Parents' Guide to

Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood

By Angelica Guarino, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Fairy tale-inspired adventure has problematic elements.

Game Linux , Mac , Windows 2021
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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But as with other adaptations of outdated fairy tales, there are some problematic elements that shouldn't be ignored.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.

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