A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is a downloadable action game featuring a heroine bent on violent revenge and prone to cutting her enemies down with an ax. Although that sounds gruesome, the violence is cartoonish and primarily against robotic opponents. There are occasional splashes of blood against some human and animal enemies, though the heroine frequently talks about what she will do to her nemeses. There are some control-scheme and visual-feedback issues that can confuse and frustrate players, particularly during boss fights. Language issues are limited to "bastard" and things being described as "crappy," and, although there's no sexual content, there's a suggestion of women and girls held against their will in a dormitory.
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What's it about?
WOOLFE: THE RED HOOD DIARIES is an industrial twist on the classic Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Here, Red's living in the woods with her grandmother while her father works in the city of Ulrica for ruthless manufacturer B.B. Woolfe. He's killed in an industrial accident, but Red suspects Woolfe is behind the incident. She swears to find out what really happened by infiltrating Woolfe's factory and uncovering the circumstances of her father's "accidental" death. She finds the city deserted, its citizens forced inside by life-size tin soldiers who enforce Woolfe's will, and she decides to fight through the soldiers and other associates of Woolfe in her quest for revenge.
Is it any good?
Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries takes the classic Grimm fairy tale and brings it along a darker path, with Red, not the woodsman, being the vengeful righter of wrongs. She's cast as an angry young woman (older than the traditional Red Riding Hood by about 10 years) and is brave, athletic, and trained to defend herself. The adventure has very expressive lighting that supports the narrative, along with environments that are as lush and detailed as some of the best fairy tale illustrations. The sound is equally distinct, with moody music that adds emotion to Red's grown-up yet girlish voice as it relates poignant memories from her past. The game also has strong platforming mechanics with lots of interesting areas to jump, climb, and run through, making it fun to explore this updated take on the adventure.
Although it's a good start to what should be a compelling story, the heroine is done an injustice thanks to odd design choices. Unless you use a console controller, the control scheme is confusing because it places attacks on traditional movement keys. Boss fights are just as strange, with false clues on defeating enemies provided to players and no visual feedback on damage to enemies. Also, Red's giant head is disproportionate to her tiny body, and, without lip syncing, she and other characters stare blankly like department store mannequins during cut scenes while their voices come floating out of nowhere. But these presentation issues aren't as problematic as Red Hood Diaries' lack of content -- from start to finish, the game can be completed in roughly 90 minutes, which is incredibly short. But, although Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries appears to be somewhat limited by design choices, it's a potentially promising start to a complex fairy tale series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as The Red Hood Diaries. Is the violence OK because most of the attacks are against robots? Should fairy tales feature violence at all?
Talk about how families look out for each other. What do the members of your family do to take care of one another?
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