Last year, Shinyuden released two games in the Red Colony series. I expected them to be pretty bad, but they were strangely enjoyable despite their issues. The second game definitely represented quite a step up with improvements in the story, the puzzles, and a genuinely well implemented dinosaur mechanic.
Now, a mere year after the launch of the original, we have the final part of the titty trilogy – time to wrap things up and see how well things end!
Many thanks to Runic Codes for the review copy.
After acquiring dinosaur DNA for the Queen, android Mina returns for her reward – which is to be ‘Turned’, a process that will grant her freedom and emotions. However, an incident occurs and the next thing she knows, she wakes up in the scrapyard with the Queen dead and everyone has Turned except for Mina. Oh, and Mina is being blamed for the Queen’s death…
… and a lot of the androids have gone mental too, resulting in crazy robots trying to kill you in addition to the zombies, raptors, and zombie raptors that roam the planet. Well, I suppose the devs had to step things up from the last game.
The story itself is fine for what it is, but unfortunately it’s just not told very well. Most of the exposition comes between conversations with Juli – a former android ‘reporter’ with constantly nodding breasts who seems to be primarily focused on stealing Mina’s martian ‘boyfriend’. If this sounds like a pretty bad plotline, you have absolutely no idea. Whilst the original game had a step up with the storytelling, being far more interesting and far less childish, this seems to regress back to the original as every android seems to be obsessed with sex, despite everything going on. The dialogue really does spoil the horror atmosphere as it seems like it’s written by a horny teenager rather than the B-movie feeling of the second game. The story does have some interesting twists and turns, but a lot of it never goes anywhere and every single character is so unlikeable that you probably won’t even care what happens to them regardless.
ALL ACTION, NO CLIMAX
Much like the previous games, Red Colony 3 plays out as a 2D survival horror game. Starting with nothing, and obtaining little more than that, you are left to survive against the creatures that lie ahead. In order to obtain keys and items, you’ll have to solve some rudimentary puzzles that will unlock certain areas or cabinets for you to loot. Don’t expect anything too complicated, as most of the time it’ll be as simple as taking note of some paint on a wall or a nearby note. If you’ve played the previous games, you’ll probably know what to expect. Mina is also pretty fragile, so you’ll be wanting to take care of her health and save when you can using the limited-use USB sticks.
The original game focused purely on braindead zombies as your opponents, but the sequel improved things by adding some threatening dinosaurs into the mix. Whilst seeming like a silly addition, they actually worked rather well as they were so threatening that you were forced to either hide or run on the rare occasion that you came across one. They were genuinely terrifying, as the game had some great set-pieces for the dino-foes. Where do you go after dinosaurs though? Well, the third game seems to think androids are the answer. Malfunctioning androids are an interesting addition in theory, as they have numerous weakspots that you need to shoot in order to destroy; in practice, they don’t make a huge difference as their slow shambling nature makes them feel like zombies.
What makes the androids even more superfluous is the new direction in the combat. New stealth mechanics have been introduced, whereby you can turn off / shoot lights in order to sneak past most enemies. Rather than being an optional way to overcome enemies, it feels like the game is forcing you to go this route by limiting the ammunition you find drastically. The starting handgun grants you four bullets, and the first ammo cache I found have me one single handgun bullet. For a little extra context, enemies typically require three or four bullets to take down. If you’re out of ammo and the lights are on, you’re probably screwed. There’s no dodge mechanic, so you just have to take the hits, which will no doubt take you close to death. As such, you’ll be wanting to save your ammo for lights where possible. There are other stealth options from time to time, including steam vents you can use to distract zombies, but they’re so infrequently placed that I never used them once. Whilst towards the end, things do pick up – with extra guns and ammo, the final part of the game requires quite a few bullets to get through, so if you don’t have enough bullets or clothes to make it through then you’re pretty much screwed. Yes, I did say ‘clothes’.
If (or when) you get hit, your character’s clothes start to fall apart to show that you have taken damage – much like the previous games. However, in order to restore health in the third entry, you need to …. find new clothes. As nonsensical as this seems initially, it’s made even more counter-intuitive due to the protagonist being an android. I was expecting to find a garage with a wrench or something to restore my health, but instead I had to find some skimpy clothing to protect myself. Whilst I praised the additional outfits in the second as an optional collectible, forcing them upon the player as a form of health restoration seems like a weird move.
And that’s unfortunately the crux of everything wrong with Red Colony 3: it seems like a regression in almost every way. The improved dialogue from the second game is now worse than in the original, the added collectibles are now forced upon you as health restoration, the improved combat that stopped the game from being too easy has now been changed to such a point where combat is rarely even possible, the added depth to the inventory system has been transformed into a clunky mess that is hard to both navigate and work out what’s going on. Not only are a lot of the changes a step back, but many are even a leap back to worse than the original.
Where the game truly flounders though is on a technical level. Despite being the final entry in the trilogy, this one definitely has the most bugs. Right from the start, I had important items just not appear leading me to think I’d find them later on; as it turned out, leaving and re-entering respawned everything correctly, allowing me to proceed as intended. Other bugs include normal zombies dealing extra damage for no discernible reason, zombies seeing you in a darkened room, bullets not damaging their targets (this one is particularly annoying considering the scarcity of the ammo), and a bug returning from the first game whereby NPC events reappear if you leave and re-enter an area. The game feels remarkably unpolished, and is capped off with a very unstable framerate. It’s not too bad most of the time, but areas such as The Link and The Morgue are terrible. The performance in The Link is so bad that it’s hard to look at without resulting in a headache. The developer has stated that the framerate issues are caused by the wrong version being added to the eshop, so hopefully this gets rectified by release; either way, the game clearly needed even more time in the oven.
It’s not all bad, though. As I mentioned, there are additional mechanics that are genuinely interesting additions, even if the developer decided to sacrifice everything else in favour of it. The story too has some genuine mystery going on at times, but is spoiled by godawful dialogue. Heck, the raptors that debuted in the second game are still really well used whenever they make an appearance. The dev really does seem to care about his series, but I really wish more time was spent on each game to make sure that they can be the best that they can be. Some issues are far deeper than design choices, and it would have been nice to see a bigger difference between titles.
The original Red Colony surprised me by not being terrible. The sequel surprised me by being surprisingly competent and even pretty well done in parts. The final part, however, seems to have stumbled and fallen. Whilst it does introduce some interesting new mechanics, its issues really hold it back. Design issues, technical issues, and a return to the cringeworthy dialogue of the original make this a disappointing finale. A good patch would help a lot, but even then I’m not sure it would be enough. Those invested in the story may want to give it a shot to see the storyline through to its anticlimactic ending, but otherwise there’s not much reason to bother. Regardless, I’m still interested in seeing what RunicCodes does in a post Red Colony world. I hope that his experience with this trilogy will help him with his future projects.
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After using my bullets to kill Bad guys rather then shooting lights, I ended up screwed with ko ammo since when the game loads, the ammo count doesnt reset. I was shocked by the number of bugs in the game and not being able to progress after running out of bullets seemed nuts. Spot on review
Yeah, definitely. It’s a shame it’s such a mess.
Nice to see you again Nicholas, it has been a while!