REVIEW | Red Colony 2

Is it simply the breast?

I’m not sure where to start. Red Colony 2 is a kind of game that I’ve never really experienced before, and I can’t make my mind up on whether I enjoyed it or not. 

Let’s just get this part out the way – there are boobs in this game, BIG boobs. They are all over the place, but for a reason, which is to match the ecchi genre that the game is based on. Ecchi is known for exploiting sexual themes to an absurd level, a parody where simple sex themes are blown out of proportion. There is no nudity in the game, and sex is only hinted at in the text, however Nicole’s clothes are skimpy, leaving nothing to the imagination, and she is constantly running around in high heels.  I mean, if i were Nicole, I personally would have ditched the high heels right away – they must have hurt like hell after a while!  

Red Colony 2 is a side-scrolling 2D survival horror game, slightly inspired by Resident Evil and Dino Crisis, and developed by RunicCodes, a solo developer who took just six months to create this game. While that’s impressive and should be admired, I do wonder what they could have achieved if a little more time had been spent improving some areas and giving it a little more polish here and there. That might be missing the point though, as I believe RunicCodes vision has been realised – they wanted to create a homage to a ‘so bad it’s good’ horror movie. Job done!

You don’t have to have played the first game to understand the story here. I hadn’t, and I felt like I wasn’t missing out on any plot points. You control Nicole, a sex worker who lives on a colony on Mars. The government has kidnapped her daughter and you have to help Nicole find and free her. Unfortunately a virus (introduced in the first game) has made it here too, and turned most of the population into zombies. On top of that there are, very randomly, Velociraptors roaming around, ready to pounce if you get in their way. I would like to say that all this makes it a more challenging game, but it really doesn’t. The enemies don’t give you the sense of danger like they would in a Resident Evil game. This then affects your playthrough as there is no tension or fear created when coming across an enemy, but this might be intentional as part of the good/bad horror movie thing going on. RunicCodes has thrown in some twists to the story, which I appreciated, and tried to include some jump scares that did add to the atmosphere of the game, even if they weren’t that effective.

“Nicole’s health is measured by her clothes. The less health she has, the less clothes she is wearing due to them getting shredded by zombies.”

To progress through the game you must solve various puzzles scattered throughout the world. These range from finding codes, opening briefcases or safes, finding keys to locked doors, and finding upgrades for your wristband which allows you to gain access to higher level areas. Most of the time the answer to the puzzle is not that far away, though only occasionally cryptic.This made the puzzles themselves fairly redundant as they were easily solved. Saying that, there were a couple of puzzles that did get me, but I’m not sure whether that was down to me or the way the game was designed. I would have liked to have seen some more variation in the puzzles as coming across yet another code puzzle got quite boring after a while. 

The actual look of the game is acceptable. The backdrops are well designed and everything you see is realised to a good standard. In some areas the walls and floors are splattered with blood, and the apartment section is furnished as you would expect. The character models have been drawn well enough, with the raptor design a highlight. The problems begin when things start moving. The character animations are so stiff – when Nicole has to crawl through a vent or under a table the animation of her going from standing to crawling looks like she has a stickup her back. When Nicole walks she seems to have a limp, and I’m not sure her feet are actually touching the ground. The  animation when attacking an enemy with a baseball bat is just as ‘wooden’, and she doesn’t seem to have any movement in her arms. The zombies too are like cardboard and move unnaturally (even for the undead) and I’m not sure if this is supposed to match the anime style or just a good example of a rushed video game. I also came across a glitch where after the animation of moving from one area to another had ended, I was back in the original place where I started. 

The controls are simple – pressing the Y button makes Nicole run, which you will be doing all the time as Nicole walks very slowly. Holding ZL while Nicole is brandishing a firearm will put her into aim mode. ZR shoots the gun or swings the aforementioned bat. The A button is used to interact with the environment, also letting you pick things up or talk to other characters, and the plus button brings up the inventory. 

The inventory itself packs a lot in, showing everything you’re holding, giving access to maps of the area, and settings for the game. It’s designed to look like you’re accessing it from Nicole’s wristband and therefore doesn’t fill the whole screen. This makes it all quite small and hard to navigate – the items are not labelled and you must select each item for a description to appear, which I found frustrating. While on this subject, when I found and picked up items in the game I didn’t have a clue what they were as they were not labelled and looked similar to each other, so it was always guesswork on whether I had found the item I had been looking for or not. 

There is a small selection of firearms to craft, with three guns at your disposal; a pistol, shotgun and a rifle. These are found at a 3D printer, which you use to print both the guns and ammo. The aiming is hit and miss, with three positions: up, middle and bottom. There’s no precision with it, and I tended to just not bother and always aim for the middle of the enemy. Weapons such as baseball bats can be found in various places, but these are breakable and you can’t print them. Ammo is scarce which helps add to the tension of the game, but I found I enjoyed the baseball bat more as it was easier to kill the enemies than with the guns. The 3D printer also has the ability to save your game, but you can only do that if you have a save card handy as everytime you save, you use up a card. More can be found scattered around the environment, but I would have just preferred being able to save whenever, as when you do die you might have to repeat a section that took 20 minutes to clear. 

Nicole’s health is measured by her clothes. The less health she has, the less clothes she is wearing due to them getting shredded by zombies. As I said, there’s no nudity but it gets pretty close! The dinosaurs are sparse in the game but if you do come up against one you have to run the other way as your weapons will have no effect on them, and if they get you it’s instant death. I liked the inclusion of the dinosaurs, although a little random, and if there’s a third Red Colony game I hope for them to return. The death scene you see from being killed by a raptor is also pretty decent. 

The music is nicely done with some atmospheric tones, and a lot of the sections had ambient noise which really set the tone of the game. Japanese voice acting with english subtitles are featured throughout the game. There are no prolonged sections of chat so the Japanese never became a problem, plus the subtitles are easy to read with a simple and large font. Local voice acting would obviously be nice, but I can imagine that the money needed for such a task was way out of the developers budget. 

Red Colony 2 is like a video game version of a bad B movie. It has a lot of issues, from the combat to the animation, and the save function to the confusing items. But, despite the rough edges, there’s something that kept me engaged, wanting to explore more and see how ridiculous the story would get. It feels like a guilty pleasure. and I am now tempted to play the first game in this series. It’s difficult for me to recommend this game, but there is certainly some enjoyment to be had, and with the two hours of gameplay it offers, it at least won’t take up much of your time. 

Rating: 2 out of 5.