Switch version tested
Review code provided
From the creator of My Big Sister (Stranga Games) comes Red Bow. An adventure, story-based game published by Ratalaika Games. This title was released on January 17th for Nintendo Switch and will available on Steam soon. Red Bow took two short sittings to complete so this review will be a big spoiler. Stranga Games is a one-person development team so if this title intrigues you in the least, use your gold coins for this $5/£5 title to support future endeavours.
Our main character Roh can move and interact with key objects that will help the game move along. Tinkering with any object that projects their name on screen is really the only thing to do besides read thoughts and conversations. Red Bow does not waste any time getting right into the story. Roh awakens from sleep feeling confused, locked in her own home. As she ventures outside she meets darkly characters to realize she this may not be real life.
This is one of my first story-driven games that surrounds mostly dialogue over actual gameplay. Roh’s story revolves around possibly living a nightmare, being stuck in purgatory, or her own personal hell. One character stated it was purgatory but when she wakes up in her bed multiple times it feels like the repetitious movie Groundhog Day, so that makes me think it’s her own hell. Odd and scary looking characters convey a disturbed look into their past which scares Roh into having the willingness to do anything to get home, even kill. In a few scenes the player is given a choice to make but there are only two, so if you choose the wrong choice? You have to redo the progress you’ve made and choose the latter. I wish there were more choices in dialogue and in actions taken.
Conversation sequences lose their momentum because the music stops. It would certainly help the story move along without silence instead of just the clicking of the words as they’ve rattled off. The music is paired well with the tone of the game once it’s playing though, and that’s always a nice touch.
Art style is the first draw for me. Initially seeing the Super Nintendo inspired graphics, I had a strong urge to look into Red Bow. Billowing smoke, large trees, everything looks awesome. Larger characters turning around showcases Stranga Games art skills the best. Something about 16-bit art styles really speaks to me. The game doesn’t take up the entire screen but has sidebars showcasing two hands tying a bow. This doesn’t hold the game back as all fits on screen that needs to, without feeling the space has been wasted.
Aside from the story, the main objective is to explore and find objects to progress the game. Controls are simple so once near any object and the name pops up, hit A to interact with it. Check every nook and toilet for the key to unlock the door. Move with the joystick and hold B to run. These simple controls were a surprise joy when I found out Roh could die and the game restarts without saving. All the conversations I had, running around I did, and objects I found. Must be completed over. Lots of clicking A fast as I could to get back where I left off. At first, I thought the game would be different if I had to restart but alas that is not the case. As I stated prior it’s a short game, so going through all the motions again didn’t take long but a pain nonetheless.
Looking at Stanga Games they are big fans of dark, story-driven games and Red Bow fits that part. I felt the story could have either gone deeper or tied together differently. Red Bow ended abruptly and left me a bit confused and somewhat at a loss, but the SNES graphics were charming and made me want more. To see this developer delve further into RPG elements, story, and gameplay would be fantastic and I hope they do so in the future.
TBG Score: 5/10
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 17/01/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, RPG
Developer: Stranga Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop