In this 2D survival-horror title from Shinyuden, you fight through your zombie-infected city to reunite with your daughter, all while wearing as little clothing as possible. Boobs, anime aesthetics and a zombie apocalypse sound like a winning combination, right? Sadly this triangulation of very popular entities has fallen short of even my lowest expectations. Red Colony had all the right pieces but the way they were put together simply doesn’t work.

Gameplay

Red Colony clearly takes some inspiration from its predecessors of survival horror: largely-ineffective knives, items required to save your progress, puzzles and exploration are key to making your way through a series of inexplicably connected locations. Oh and zombies, of course. The combat is actually quite unique: PS1 Resident Evil style combat in a 2D perspective. On paper this sounds like a nice twist on a classic formula but unfortunately, in practice, the mechanic falls flat. Since the game is in 2D, you have only one direction in which to flee and with no way to escape from a zombie’s grip, there’s no room for strategy or variety in combat. The homage is nice but it doesn’t pay off functionally.

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There is an issue I ran into while playing although I’m not sure if there’s any plan to fix it in a future update: In order to progress from an area, you must upgrade your phone with SIM cards hidden throughout the levels. Two thirds of the way through the game, I had found that area’s SIM card but it wouldn’t let me pass through that area’s exit door. Hopefully this gets patched post-launch.

Level Design

The world of Red Colony is laid out in a series of buildings sprinkled with puzzles and zombies. The backgrounds and layouts tend to blend together after a while but otherwise, it’s standard zombie game material. There’s a surprising amount of exploration crammed into the microscopic map, one of the few pleasant surprises in Red Colony. The different buildings are arranged in an unbelievable fashion (homes, schools, shopping malls and laboratories all apparently adjacent), but this is an incredibly minor issue that doesn’t really affect gameplay. It’s a shame that the rest of the game didn’t have even this much polish.

Story / Personality

There is no nice way to put this: the writing in this game is atrocious. While some of the stilted diction can be chalked up to translation quirks, the substance of the story is still airheaded and banal. In the middle of a zombie apocalypse in which everything you knew is destroyed, our main character is focused on...her cheating husband. The “goal” to be reunited with the protagonist’s daughter but the majority of the dialogue revolves around this affair. There’s no sense of urgency regarding the actual situation the characters find themselves in but this D-List daytime television drama is priority. This pushes you out of the game because this isn’t how a normal person would behave. Subversion of expectations is one thing but Red Colony doesn’t do it in a way that is clever or invokes thought. It’s simple negligence. The level of sexuality in this game also diminishes and undermines the experience. There’s a time and a place and this just felt wrong on both counts. A touch here and there might have been nice but the delivery is so frequent and heavy-handed that I found myself cringing every time someone spoke.

Graphics / Art Direction

The graphics and art direction in Red Colony are pretty decent, all things considered. What they are is bound to be polarizing however nearly every speaking character (even the one that laughably claimed to be an old lady) is a scantily clad anime-style woman with *ahem* unrealistic anatomical proportions and an overzealous use of jiggle physics. I understand that this is a title meant for a mature audience but this level of blatant fan-service feels childish and gratuitous. That being said they are well drawn (despite the sometimes choppy animation) and the backgrounds have some nice artistic touches that are worth paying attention to as they change with the area you’re in. All this culminates into a decent, albeit ridiculous, art style.

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Final Score: 35%

When I first saw the trailer for Red Colony, I feared that it would wind up being a cheap approximation of survival horror with a heavy veneer of fan service and sadly, I was right. Between the air-headed characters, woeful dialogue and lackluster combat, it was really hard to find something to enjoy about Red Colony. Even the most die hard fans of survival horror and anime games should steer clear: there are much better options available on the eShop for both genres. This game is a lot like a faulty desk you buy and have to put together yourself: you’ve got all the right pieces, but they don’t seem to fit together properly and the desk still wobbles once you’re done.

Thank you for checking out our Red Colony Switch review, thank you to Adam Phillips for the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: