Risky Woods

First of all, “Risky Woods”?  Honestly, EA, that’s the title you came up with?  I mean, it’s hardly intriguing – “risky” doesn’t exactly convey much of a sense of urgency or danger, and “woods” makes it sound like we’re going a hike in the forest.  The whole thing gives the impression of a camping trip where there’s a 50/50 chance it might rain.  Was there some kind of automated name generator that randomly combined slightly scary-sounding adjectives with various nouns (this probably explains Dark Castle, as well), and whatever title it came up with you had to design a game around that idea?  Because when I hear about a game called “Risky Woods”, the first thing that pops into my head is “low priority”, not least of all for the developers. “Yeah, make sure the new Madden and Desert Strike games are done on time, and if you have a few extra minutes, maybe do some work on Risky Woods… or just go home a little early.  Either way.”

Anyway, the game plays more or less like Super Ghouls and Ghosts, except about ten times harder.  You know, because the one thing everyone complained about with G&G was that it was just too darn easy.  Look Electronic Arts, if you come across somebody playing a game and they say “Man, this game couldn’t possibly get any harder,” that’s not a challenge – you don’t actually have to go make a similar game that’s even more challenging.  Especially when your idea of challenge involves flooding the screen with enemies who are out of your attack range and having somebody standing seemingly right on top of every spot you need to jump to.

Risky Woods001

Demo guy takes a nap.

Every so often, we’ll come across a game in this project that is so hard or, more likely, so badly designed that even the person playing it in the demo can’t get anywhere before dying.  And that’s kind of what we expected from Risky Woods – as I mentioned before, the game is certainly hard enough, at least to the degree to which by “hard” you actually mean incredibly unfair.  But that’s not what happened at all.  In the demo of the first level, whoever the gamemaster they got to play it just totally kicks its ass with a near perfect run.  For a second, I almost felt just the slightest bit of shame for my Risky Woods ineptitude.

But when we saw the demo of a next level, things had changed drastically.  Whoever was playing kept falling into the same pit over and over again.  And not because they were being knocked into the pit by enemies, or missing a jump.  Nope, just running into the pit, respawning, and running into it again and again.  Obviously, whoever had been playing the game had by this point lost interest entirely.  Risky Woods had finally broken the gamemaster’s spirit and turned the demo into in an endless cycle of protagonist suicide.  This took exactly two levels.

Which ought to tell you everything you need to know about how bad this game is – even the person being paid to play the game for the demo couldn’t be bothered to try for more than one level.

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