A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
While Scarlet Hood does feel a responsibility to help the Munchkins, her primary goal remains to return home, which is neutral. But the game's use of cultural artifacts from Native American and Black cultures raises questions around cultural appropriation, creative license, or possibility of benign misunderstanding.
Positive Role Models
Characters in Scarlet Hood resemble familiar fairy tale characters, and their goals are typically neutral, such as reaching a destination, traveling home, or defeating an enemy. But evil witch character and her accomplices are all "evil" just for the sake of being so.
Ease of Play
While some puzzles are challenging, the controls are fairly intuitive, and the combat mechanism is easy to pick up.
Violence & Scariness
Cartoonish violence, including use of guns and bows.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two female characters are dressed in revealing clothing.
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Occasional use of the word "crap."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasional drinking can be seen for reasons that further the story.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood is a downloadable puzzle/adventure game for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This mash-up/retelling of the classic stories The Wizard of Oz and Little Red Riding Hood follows Scarlet, an aspiring musician from Kentucky. After a concert that may change her life forever, Scarlet is whisked away by a tornado, waking up in the fantasy land of Glome -- which is populated with Munchkins, a green witch, and ruby slippers. In order to find her way home, Scarlet's mission is to break free of a time loop that's causing her to relive the same day over and over again -- with the help of some characters reminiscent of the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. Be prepared for cartoonish violence, mild language ("crap"), occasional drinking by some characters to advance the story, and character drawings that could be viewed as sexual in nature. Some content, such as the inclusion of Br'er Wolf and Fox and Native American imagery, could raise questions around cultural appropriation (or be considered outright offensive), but it can also be used to prompt discussion around the issues of the source material.
Is It Any Good?
At first glance, this is an enjoyable adventure game, but its reliance on fairy tales leads it into thorny issues of cultural appropriation and offensiveness. Though the narrative has familiar fairy tale elements, there are enough amendments to Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood that the story feels new and fresh. The writing is snappy, and the puzzles are challenging and entertaining, if just a bit repetitive. The art style is beautiful, and the design of the environments players must explore is engaging. It's easy to see how kids will be entertained, even if they may be able to guess how the story is going to end. Though Scarlet Hood pulls from predictable fairy tale formulas, it's the shock and wonder portrayed by Scarlet as she enters the world of Glome that makes the story feel magical. Her personality and dialogue keep players invested -- of course we want to help this brave, ambitious heroine get home safely.
But as with other adaptations of outdated fairy tales, there are some problematic elements that shouldn't be ignored. First, the use of Native American imagery, such as headdresses and dreamcatchers, is present throughout. These don't serve a narrative purpose and feel carelessly included. Also, two animal characters, Br'er Fox and Br'er Wolf, are associated with African American oral traditions that have been appropriated by many racist films in the past, such as Disney's infamous Song of the South. While it's difficult to imagine that the developers in South Korea included these images and references for any purposefully offensive reasons, it raises important questions about the purpose that fairy tale adaptations may serve in modern times. These elements in the game present opportunities for families to discuss where these images come from, historically, as well as when they're appropriate to depict in media. On a larger scale, Scarlet Hood is an adaptation mostly of the American fantasy tale The Wizard of Oz. While still a wildly popular film many decades after its release, passionately racist writings from the story's original author have been revealed in more recent years. This has sparked debate among many arguing that, as a result, The Wizard of Oz should not still be so highly regarded or frequently shown. This all begs the question: What productive purpose does an adaptation of that story serve in the present day? Be prepared to lead open discussions about this and to educate yourselves and your kids about alternative options for kids who enjoy fantasy stories.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.