Woolfe: Red Riding Hood rides again


Woolfe. The Red Riding Hood Diaries (part 1) is a beautifully narrated story about a young girl trying to come even with all the disadvantages of her life. Somewhere between Limbo and Child of Light, this indie game is worthwhile your efforts mixing psychology and late modern criticism on industrialization and mechanization.

Red Riding Hood has been released from her clipped self the Grimm brothers made her into. Thanks to Catherine Hardwicke’s film Red Riding Hood (2011) and Sheldon Wilson’s Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010) the world knows miss Hood is not the shy little girl simply trespassing her mother’s directions to stay on the right path, but rather an anthropological prism in which a young female discovers her inner strength and sexuality in spite of (and because of) the dangers that lurk in the world of adulthood.

Orphan

In this discourse, also the game Woolfe. The Red Hood Diaries (part 1; part 2 is to be released soon) has to be placed. Developed by the Belgian studio Grin, funded by the local government and by a successful kick start crowd funding project, Woolfe tells the story of an orphan Hood who tries to uncover her true identity in a steam punk themed world riddled with social injustice. The game is beautifully drawn and reminds you somewhat of Child of Light.

Not yet perfect

Woolfe is essentially a sidescroller with some three dimensional elements (when Hood is walking to or from the camera). There are some easy physical puzzles and one or two challenging fights, but especially the ‘rough sides’ of the game play make the game harder to play than it should be. Sometimes, for example, it is absolutely not clear where the ledge begins and ends on which you have to grape on. Multiple deaths for try-and-die can be fun when intended (like in Limbo), but in Woolfe there a mere pain in the ass.

Looking for father

The story, which is Woolfe’s greatest asset, next to its visuals, takes place in the town of Ulrica, reminding the player to German or English villages in the beginning of the Industrial era: small shops and little houses next to large villas and dark factories. Miss Hood has been raised by the mother of her late father. She was brought to her grandmother when her father thought the city to be too dangerous for his daughter. Unfortunately, Hood’s father was killed by a strange accident in  the factory of Woolfe. Hood is on the search to unravel her family’s recent history.

Woolfe Industries

With the accident in the factory of B.B. Woolfe, a second theme enters the game narrative. Woolfe Industries, named after a grim and dark industrial, was once the greatest employer of the town by far, including both parents of miss Hood. But thanks to the intelligence and skills of father Hood, the factory and the town were modernized by life seized tin solders brought to life by electricity. (Hello, Frankenstein reference.) Woolfe has a iron fist around the town, his tin soldiers occupying the streets.

Part II?

Woolfe is not only a story about a vengeful young woman seizing control of her own life, but also a criticism on industrialization, polluting the environment and putting thousands of working men and women into unemployment and poverty, and on the potential hazardous misuse of highly developed technology. Hopefully the second part will give more inside information about the back story. And while Grin is into this, please remove some of the game play annoyances.

We thank you.

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