With a title like Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood, the game might make you think that it’s a typical retelling of Red Riding Hood or some such. I mean, the literal scarlet hood alone should be enough of a dead giveaway. Booting up the point-and-click-ish adventure, however, I was instantly (and pleasantly) surprised—with all the Munchkins and the flying monkeys, it’s definitely nowhere near what I thought it would be.
There’s actual danger at every turn, because if you’re not careful, you might just get stabbed by a dodo in knight’s armor fluttering down from the sky or get hit with a poison dart from a monkey hiding in the trees.
Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood is, at its core, a Wizard of Oz-esque narrative-driven game as inspired by the Brothers Grimm tales. You play as Scarlet, who—much like Dorothy—gets swept up in a tornado and lands in a magical land filled with Dodobos and Monkeytas who are out to get you. You then discover special abilities as you don the red cloak of a previous red witch (plus her Womping Stick), and set off on a course to save a troupe of Munchkins who want nothing more than to just ride down the road to Royalton without murderous wolves and sharpshooter baboons getting in their way.
The big baddie looming over you is the black witch LeFaba who seems keen on stopping you at all costs. Thanks to your recursion hex, you get to relive the same day and get a second shot at beating her along the way. In your do-overs, you gain famous friends and canine enemies and boost your skills with new powers from Seelie Shrines, all so you can beat LeFaba in her own game.
Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood isn’t just another point-and-click entry, though, because you don’t simply solve puzzles and unlock doors then go on your merry way. There’s actual danger at every turn because if you’re not careful, you might just get stabbed by a dodo in knight’s armor fluttering down from the sky or get hit with a poison dart from a monkey hiding in the trees. You only have a limited number of hearts, and taking damage whittles down your HP until it’s game over. Getting poisoned reduces your health over time too—not to mention running and evading depletes your energy bar. You can purchase some consumable items to replenish your health using coins you pick up here and there, so it’s best to keep an eye out for shiny things on the ground as you go down the proverbial yellow brick road.
This unique mechanic definitely ups the ante throughout the game, especially since after unlocking pivotal parts of certain chapters, a huge Brer Wolf (LeFaba’s familiar) will eventually rampage around and chase you down, slashing away at your clothes (questionably) until you croak.
The game is also unique in that you don’t have to think of ridiculous combinations of items in your inventory just so you can progress using good ol’ trial-and-error. When you pick up a key item, it will only have a very specific use in a very specific place. You can’t mess around in your inventory, either, as key items are untouchable—only the consumable items that replenish your energy and health are usable.
Still, that doesn’t necessarily set a lower difficulty level, as the puzzles you need to solve range from easy-peasy to downright frustrating. There are clues littered throughout the area, of course, so you really have to put your detective cap on to get through the impressively varied puzzles in every chapter.
Aside from the vibrant art, colorful characters, and immersive storyline, what really stood out for me is the fact that your actions can take you down multiple paths, so there are tons of replayability opportunities here. Your main goal is to find a way to defeat LeFaba, but getting there is a different story. You can learn special abilities to fight off minions on your own, or you can recruit storybook faves like the game’s own versions of the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow to lend you a helping hand when you’re in a pinch.
Finishing certain objectives will immediately progress the game, so you can’t go back and re-do stuff if you didn’t save your game. It definitely makes the whole thing even more interesting, and because the story is super engaging, you really wouldn’t mind replaying chapters in multiple playthroughs.
Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood | Final Thoughts
While I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of the game, I actually encountered what may or may not have been a glitch toward the end of the game, keeping me from finishing it. I’m not entirely sure if this is an actual bug or if I missed something along the way, but I genuinely got stuck with no way out, and thus couldn’t progress any further—which is, given how excited I was to find out what happens in the end, a damn shame.
I also didn’t particularly enjoy how the controls combined mouse and keyboard actions in clunky ways. For one thing, you can’t really use the mouse to move or interact with stuff (you’ll have to use the keyboard to do that), but you do need to click on things whenever a close-up of a puzzle pops up on the screen. It’s just really, really weird and not very intuitive, so here’s hoping there’ll be an option for alternative all-mouse controls in the future.
TechRaptor reviewed Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Colorful Art And Cast Of Characters
- Unique “Fight” System
- Multiple Endings and Ways To Get There
- Wonky Keyboard and Mouse Combo
- Some Puzzles Can Get Really Frustrating