Revisiting Dark Fairy Tales, ‘Woolfe’ Developer Has Big Eyes

Every now and then, game developers like to put creative twists on fairy tales. While not original, games like Alice: Madness Returns have seen great success with the tactic, and the folks at GRIN Game Studio will try their hands at fable spinoffs with their opening title Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries.

In case you hadn’t guessed, GRIN is going off The Little Red Riding Hood, turning a tale about a wolf eating an innocent child’s grandmother into a dark and gritty adventure (imagine that). This project started when someone found a render a hopeful employee of GRIN made of Red Riding Hood being harassed by a menacing, animated tree, thus inspiring the team to create an entire action platformer, with hack-and-slash and puzzle elements. If not for its side-scrolling nature, Woolfe would have almost the same concept as the aforementioned Alice title. That’s certainly not a bad thing, as Alice was a deep adventure into the already-messed-up world of Wonderland. Can Woolfe replicate that experience in an original and fun way? We’ll see.

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In a short demo of the game, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries showed off a little of everything GRIN hopes to highlight, including combat, platforming and puzzle-solving. While the Kickstarter page promises deep, combo-based hack-and-slash, it came off in the demo as mashing the hit buttons until the toy soldiers were one pile of scrap metal. Still not sure why toy soldiers are the main enemy in a game about Red Riding Hood, but Woolfe has shown its love for other fairy tales, unveiling Pinocchio, the Pied Piper and “Creeping Beauty” as bosses. While the basic combat is uninspiring at first glance, the boss fights do look interesting.

The platforming, though, wasn’t good enough to be considered a feature of the game, but not clunky enough to be a mark against it. As you can see from the GIF above, Woolfe isn’t aiming for new and different with its platforming. In all fairness, though, the developers don’t want to make that a point of emphasis, instead focusing on engaging combat in an imaginative fantasy world.

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GRIN Studio has taken to Kickstarter to get one more gameplay element added: magic powers. What’s a fantasy game without more fantasy elements? Alice: Madness Returns added a lot of gameplay depth by added something as simple as shrinking its main character sometimes. Promising to integrate this sorcery into the game’s environmental puzzles, GRIN is not content with simply tacking on magic and calling it a day, according to the Kickstarter page. GRIN also seems to be aware of the pitfalls of its current combat system, so if they can turn that around by making encounters more combo-dependent, with more intelligent AI, they’ll have something worth buying into.

One of the highest points of this game thus far, and perhaps the area that needs the least attention is the art direction. The environments in each level are diverse and detail-oriented, with much to explore and appreciate visually. While there is of course room for improvement, even AAA titles are often a little bland on first gameplay footage, so Wolfe is on pace for a game that’s easy on the eyes.

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The good news is that the developers at GRIN seem hyper aware of the shortcomings the game faces at its current stage, so at least they’ve identified the problem. Whether they can furnish the solution upon success with their Kickstarter campaign remains to be seen, but there’s a lot of potential in Woofe: The Red Hood Diaries.