There are a plethora of video games out there that deal with death, but there are few that really hit hard emotionally during game play. Red Bow has managed to find its way onto my list of games that have made an emotional impact on me while playing. The indie adventure horror game from developer Stranga is stylized after the typical top down Gameboy style games. Please be mindful that the review below contains spoilers for the game so tread carefully. Also please note that, Red Bow contains themes that deal with death and suicide and may be uncomfortable to some players and not recommended for younger player.
Is This A Dream or Death
Players take control of Roh, a young girl who has woken up in her room, yet feels like she is in a dream. She sports a red colored bow that plays in the symbolism later in the game. The two main mechanics are to move about world and interact to collect and place items. After exploring her house a bit, you find a key that unlocks the front door and sends you out into the world.
Except this is where things get weird. In the first zone outside you are on a street. After finding Kubi, a creature that helps guides souls to the other side, he gives you an idea of what you need to do in the game. The player needs to help the lost soul stuck there to move on. This is done by talking with the non playable characters and finding items to use. Once clearing the zone you move onto two more where you will follow the same pattern.
Did I Make The Right Choices?
What I really did enjoy throughout Red Bow was the feeling that you might not have done something right. Each area gives you multiple ways to clear it, but without completing the game you won’t know which one is right. The game features three endings that correspond with your choices. There is two ways to die in the game and leads to an achievement for both.
Throughout the game, you can save at anytime, giving you a way to get back track if need be. However, I did find that at times during the game if I did things out of order it left me stuck. This could be adjusted by not allowing the player to do something without doing the thing before. Aside from that, the only other mechanic based thing was that they game is a lot of running back and forth to interact with items the entire time.
Red Bows and Second Chances After Death
What really makes Red Bow a game worth playing is in the story alone. The idea is that Roh is a girl who learns she needs to help the denizens of each world before she can go home. She must help them overcome their deaths and move on. For example, in the first zone a mother has taken her life after the death of her daughter. You must help her comes to terms with the accident in order to move on.
Each zone features the idea of a red colored bow. It is the piece that really helps to tie everything together. Learning their stories and how you go about helping to save them is really what added to the emotional depth of the game. While short and rather simple, it is one that will stick with me. With all three endings, it gives you an excuse to really unlock everything in the game and explore.
Red Bow honestly is a must play on my list as long as you are comfortable with games that deal with death and suicide themes. It is a short game, I actually spent way more time then needed in order to unlock everything and get all three endings. I hope that Stranga decides to add additional content to the game in the future that continue the stories of this world.
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