Originally released to PC around this time last year, The Red Exile offers a randomly generated game of cat & mouse through its bleak red rooms – only now you can take that terror on the go with the Switch. A horror worth experiencing? lets find out.
The Red Exile takes place in, well I dunno. I don’t know who or what the why anybody is in this unknown location doing what they are doing. There’s no explanation, story lore etc to speak of outside of some scribblings on walls in the room you need to complete the exile rite
To be fair a game doesn’t need to have a narrative to follow sure, but some background to proceedings at least stops you becoming disconnected to events as quick. After a few runs you won’t really care and getting a skill point at least to purchase perks becomes the focus. On the flipside the procedural nature of the game means replayability is high, each new run has different rooms and placements of items, plus it could take some time to actually complete the ritual for the first time. Apparently the killer learns how you play over multiple runs too, but I’m not too sure that’s the case – it’d be difficult to measure something like that anyway
While the graphics aren’t stellar, they get the job done. It does look somewhat striking with the red filter and items can give out a different colour that makes things easier. Generally most rooms you enter wont differ much, there’s some clutter which gets changed up alongside some places to hide, but there’s not much variety.
Audio is similarly muted, upside being you can keep an ear out for the killer as they make their away around any surrounding rooms. At least you won’t have to worry about performance too as there’s really no issues that get in the way, the typical lack of a docked profile is disappointing – anything to negate some of the jaggies on high contrast edges would have made things better on the big screen (portable is fine given the screen size)
If you’ve played any of these chase style survival horror then you’ll know what to expect, otherwise its something skin to a game of cat & mouse. You’ll be exploring the rooms in search of items of use and to complete the objective, all while avoiding the killer. You can do this by simply running of course, but you can also hide – you’ll also find stuff to use that belie what you think they are for ie Crowbar isn’t a weapon to maybe catch a breather, its to remove planks from doors. Perks are purchased with skill points earned by surviving long enough, the only issue is the descriptions are hidden so you have no idea what a perk does until purchased – Makes finding a few to suit you a long process.
Unfortunately the game is kinda naff to play, no way around it. There’s two main issues that hamper it alongside some more minor problems, such as the complete lack of explanation on any items you pick up. Controls aren’t too good, it rarely feels comfortable enough and sensitivity is ridiculous at first (some of this can be changed in settings using an analog controlled mouse pointer) and the other is the killer themselves. This is probably more egregious as it flies in the face of what the game is supposed to offer, a learning foe. Numerous occasions I would hide or avoid the killer before heading in a safe direction, only to open a door several rooms away to find my foe already waiting for me. Not even prime Linford Christie could’ve sprinted there that quick. What’s the point in the chase if they can seemingly teleport around for a cheap game over?
The Red Exile, to be frank, flatters to deceive. Its gameplay sounds interesting with the idea of a learning AI foe and cat & mouse chase, and the graphics at least give off a horror vibe, but its all relatively mediocre once you sit down and start playing. The low price of entry (£4.49) is probably the biggest positive, so fans of the subgenre may end up enticed and will get the most out of the new chase it offers for a few hours.
Cheap thrills is an apt description, just not always in a good way.