An unconventional noir point-and-click adventure game filled with offbeat gritty dark humor and some of the shadiest characters around, A Darker Shade of Red [Free (HD)] literally surprised me in ways I never expected possible. For starters, the voice-acting is fairly remarkable, and despite me grinding my teeth every time the beaver uttered a single sentence, I managed to sit through it thinking “that’s the point, he’s supposed to make you feel on edge.” The visuals, a blend of muddy brown and green hues with the most befitting splash of red, all perfectly concoct the bleakest atmosphere possible.
You play as private investigator Mulder… (no, not that Mulder) who is a fox tasked with solving the case of a missing chicken, a divine singer who goes by the name of Lu-Ann. Donned with just a notebook and with the world’s classiest trench coat, it’s up to you to ruffle some feathers and coax the information out of anyone and everyone you meet. Unfortunately, the motel’s visitors are more than reluctant to assist you without bargaining, which is where the typical point-and-click style puzzle scenarios come in.
The “puzzles” are ridiculously straightforward, and not at all difficult considering the target audience. It’s a bit perplexing how a game clearly aimed at the more mature adult is so easy to beat, but in any case, aside from its slight lack of creativity, it was still wholly enjoyable.
That’s not to say the story isn’t wildly imaginative and highly original. Badass talking animals with ulterior motives, who 'da thought? Well, okay, there may have been similar scenarios out there, but it’s still in a league of its own, considering how on edge it made me feel.
Though I wanted to slug half the characters, I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised at a cliffhanger on an iOS game. I won't spoil the surprise, since this is definitely a twist that has to be largely unexpected to be appreciated. It literally sent shivers down my spine, before fading into a surprise announcement that there will be another instalment. Well, I hope so, because the whole game can be literally completed in around twenty minutes max… and I was only just getting into it too.
The only main downside to the game is that it only runs on iPad, so iPhone users may feel a bit overlooked at this point. However, for what its worth, it runs beautifully on the iPad, so clearly the work that has been put in to optimize it impeccably has paid off remarkably well.
Nickname Studio’s A Darker Shade of Red is completely free, with no hidden in-app purchases or unlockables. I’m excited to see where they will take the adventures of Mulder from this point on, and highly recommend the game to anyone who loves a seriously weird but intriguingly wonderful adventure game.
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