I honestly didn’t intend to cover three horror titles in a row, but I was gifted a review code for Red Colony by the publishers (thanks!), so here we go!
The story kicks off with Maria awakening in a warehouse on the border the morning after a party celebrating the 100th anniversary of the colony. It doesn’t take long for her to realise that the colony has been wrecked from a virus originating from the lab she works at, turning most of the residents into zombies. It’s a pretty standard set-up for a zombie story, and you get some more details on the cause as you progress through the colony trying to find and save your daughter.
The story, for the most part, works. There are twists and turns throughout, but are mostly made up of genre tropes and tend not to be overly surprising. Unfortunately, the weakest part of the story is also what is focused upon in the trailers – her husbands affair and everyone’s obsession with sex. It’s not quite as bad as it comes across in the trailer, but there are some moments where some characters are more bothered about sex or potential sex than they are about, well, everyone dying from a zombie outbreak. These two story elements undermine each other, with the outbreak elements being interesting and the relationship elements being slightly obnoxious. The dialogue too is a mixed bag, ranging from B movie cheese to the frankly juvenile – guess which part of the story contains the latter?
LEFT 4 BREASTS
The visuals too tend to be hit and miss. Environments are well designed, with each of the locations having a pretty unique look that perfectly fits them. Characters, meanwhile, have a distinct anime look to them – even if their chests are inflated to unrealistic proportions. There is a story reason for the look of the characters, but it’s pretty laughable (I won’t spoil it as not to ruin the ‘surprise’). Once you get over the sexualised look of the characters, the art direction is surprisingly decent and well drawn for such a budget title. What lets the visuals down, however, is the animation. The animation looks …. off … for the most part. The main character is mostly ok, although her running animation is a bit janky, but everything else seems to be animated poorly. I know zombies are supposed to move stiffly, but it just looks awful in this game.
Music in the game is mainly atmospheric, but for a horror game such as this, it fits well. It’s well composed even if you won’t remember any of it. It’s such a shame that the same quality isn’t reflected in the rest of the audio. Voices, whilst in Japanese, seem a little too quiet, and the sound effects sound cheap – often not even matching the visuals. The knife sound is particularly bad in quality, which is even more noticeable since it’s the weapon you will probably end up using the most.
Performance is reasonably solid throughout, although some cutscenes can take a little too long. I didn’t encounter any game-breaking bugs throughout my playthrough, but bugs certainly were present. Backtracking to previous areas, for example, tends to reset certain events: I’d often get old phone calls multiple times, or having the same sound alert for a fallen chandelier that had already fallen. The worst was with a certain story choice towards the end of the game, which will reset if you re-enter the area. The dialogue and the response to your action will change if you make the other choice, yet the character model does not respawn – leaving you having a conversation with thin air. It certainly adds to the unpolished feel.
MEET THE COLONISTS
Most of the colonists died during the outbreak, but a handful still survive, including:
With zombies having ravaged the entire colony, you’ll need everything you can in order to survive.
Here’s a quick guide to help you fight your way to the end.
ALONE IN THE DDs
At its core, Red Colony is a survival horror game, except in 2D. Going into the game, I really did not expect it to work. I had played a little of Lone Survivor before, but dropped it quickly since it never really clicked with me. It’s surprising then how fun I found the gameplay of Red Colony to be.
As per 3D survival horror games, a lot of the game boils down to searching for health, ammunition, and puzzle elements – all while fighting off undead foes.
Maria starts off unarmed, but soon gets a trusty knife. This is more than sufficient to see off undead foes, provided you have room for manoeuvre – although occasionally you are able to crawl under tables to avoid their notice. You won’t find any extra guns or ammunition on your journey, since firearms are prohibited on the colony; however, you can find resources that will allow you to create weaponry from the 3D printer. It’s a nice change from the standard way of doing things, but is completely undermined by how underpowered these weapons are compared to the knife. None of them really have any sense of impact or do major damage, whereas the knife can take out zombies quickly and easily. Even though the hit box of the knife is extremely janky, it doesn’t really affect its overall usefulness. I rarely used any other weaponry in the game, saving it for more difficult monsters or bosses later in the story – a time which sadly never came. The zombies at the start of the game are the same as at the end of the game. The game does tease a harder variant later on … but they never show up. It’s a big disappointment and results in the game lacking any difficulty at all.
Puzzles fair far better though, and there are some interesting solutions to figuring out the various passwords and door codes. Some are basically given to you, whereas others require you to take notice of the environment. You’ll never get stumped, but it helps keep you interested in the game. It’s a shame it never extends beyond working out codes, since I think that having some other puzzles in the game would really help push up the overall quality.
Red Colony definitely turned out to be a mixed bag, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy my time with it. Sure, it may have only taken two and a half hours to beat but the game is also pretty cheap. The game also certainly has a lot of flaws: the animation and sound effects are pretty terrible, the story is a little hit and miss, and there should be more enemy and puzzle variety – but this is definitely not the shovelware title that the trailer implies. In fact, if the devs can iron out these issues in a potential sequel, then I will be first in line to give it a shot!