Game Info:

Red Bow
Developed By: Stranga Games
Published By: Ratalaika Games
Released: January 17, 2020
Available On: Switch, PS4, Steam
Genre: Horror
ESRB Rating: T- Mild Blood
Number of Players: 1 offline
Price: $4.99 Digitally

Thank you, Ratalaika Games, for sending us a copy of Red Bow on the Nintendo Switch!

I have actively reviewed games for CCGR for almost a year, and if it has taught me one thing it is this: you never know what is going to come across the que. I purposely conduct “cold reviews” on games that are sent to me without knowing what I am receiving. I like doing it that way because it not only gives me a challenge, it also presents me with an opportunity to play games that I would never play otherwise. This is certainly the case for the most recent game that I played entitled Red Bow.

Marketed as a top-down, creepy adventure game, Red Bow is the spiritual successor of another pixelated horror game that I reviewed last year called Just Ignore Them. My review of that game could easily be considered “scathing” by my standards, so you can imagine my hesitation going into another game made by Stranga Games that features similar gameplay and aesthetics. Perhaps the developer learned a few things this time around, because Red Bow not only proved to be superior to Just Ignore Them in overall quality, it also provided a spooky, yet conservative horror experience for more discerning gamers. In other words, all the blood, gore, and foul language were left out of this title.

Red Bow

Strong Points: Creepy gameplay without all the gore; well-delivered pixel art; multiple paths to take
Weak Points: Weak protagonist; very short story; forces players to take a certain path after engaging dialogue; music does not fit the game’s premise
Moral Warnings: Some blood is shown; the story focuses on spirits who have died horrible deaths

In Red Bow you play as Roh, a young girl who finds herself in an odd series of dreams where she must choose which apparitions are on her side and which ones are not. Starting off in her bedroom, she seemingly wakes up each day and journeys into a different part of her home, only to find that she is still in an odd purgatory-like dreamscape. She must travel through these places and make the appropriate choices in order to bring the lost souls some peace.

This game is all about choices, especially when it comes to talking to certain spirits to move the narrative along. It is possible for Roh to discover multiple outcomes within her adventure, some that lead to her success, and others that lead to her demise. It is all about finding certain items at certain times between conversations because when a conversation is started, it pigeonholes Roh into a decision. There are no “yes or no” options when speaking to others, so though this game is based around choices that are made, those choices have to be made without textual prompts or guides. Some players may find this aggravating and misguiding while others might consider it a challenge.

It is important to first note that Red Bow is not a very long game at all. The description on the website says that it is between one and two hours long, but that is a pretty generous estimation for the content. I played through the game several times to see if I could find all the alternative choices and endings, and each playthrough took me about 25 minutes maximum. If someone is looking for a deep and immersive game to play, Red Bow might be a way to get your toes wet, but that’s about it.

Red Bow
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 66%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 4/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 64%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 9/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 3/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 4/10

Despite the fact that this is technically an adventure horror game, it doesn’t really present much of a terrifying or adventurous experience. The pixelated graphics are well-rendered, even though many of the spirits look flat and squished. Roh’s character shows little emotion through the game, and that makes it difficult to connect with her as a protagonist. However, the dialogue spoken by support characters and spirits is deep and thought-provoking. Roh seems to just stumble through her adventure oblivious to what’s going on around her.

Then again, I shouldn’t be too hard on this game because, as I said earlier, it does present quite an improvement from the aforementioned Just Ignore Them. Using some of the same character depictions and art style, the developer does a good job of adding little creepy details that serve this title well. The pixelated movements of the creatures and spirits are unnerving, and the simple color palette allows for the imagination to run a little wild. Unfortunately, the often peppy soundtrack does not match the eerie action of the game. I found it hard to be scared when the music sounded more like it belonged in an upbeat RPG than a horror mystery title.

Red Bow is a rather visually conservative horror title considering the themes that are presented within the game. Roh meets spirits who have hung themselves, been brutally beaten and drowned, and even murdered through a crime of passion. There are small red pixels that show very little blood on the faces and bodies of some of the characters. Surprisingly, there is no foul language with the narration, Roh even says “Oh my gosh” in place of the alternative. There is, however, a strong emphasis on such ideas as Purgatory and ghosts, which may turn away some players.

I found playing through Red Bow a moderately enjoyable, albeit short, experience. This game does offer multiple conclusions, some of which will happen early in the game, so it is good to experiment with the order in which you talk with spirits and interact with objects. The game does pigeon-hole players into completing the game one way, so know that many decisions have already been made for you. Just don’t electrocute the pretty lady, she doesn’t like that very much.

About the Author

J.R. Sommerfeldt

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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