Redder is rad little science fiction themed platformer designed by Anna Anthropy, the woman who made Mighty Jill Off. Much of the game’s basic design is taken from Metriod and the opening shot, a spaceship (in this case, low on gas) slowly descending onto alien soil, is really nice homage to that series. The protagonist, a little dude (or lady) in a space suit, hops out of the ship and the player assumes control.
Your first choice is simple: Left, right or down. It doesn’t really matter which way you go, since the game’s map is labyrinth of underground caves. To collect all the shiny trinkets needed to get your ship off the ground, you’ll need to go everywhere anyway. The little dude’s only means of interaction is jumping, which is the first way Redder separates itself from Metroid. It’s a pure platformer that’s focused on exploration, and there’s no ice beam or missile pack to save your ass from the robots that patrol the levels. If you touch one, BAM, instant obliteration.
The biggest impediment is a series of color coded gates and switches. If you touch a red switch, red gates disappear and green gates blink into existence. Touching a green switch has the opposite effect. Since the game is one big level, the switches affect every gate on the planet. The level is designed to tease and prod you along, often showing you gems that will take careful planning across many screens to reach. It’s a simple, but brilliant gameplay mechanic that forces you to observe your surroundings carefully in order to navigate through the maze
Quick warning: The rest of this article spoils Redder’s surprise. It can be completed in about an hour, so if you want to see how it plays out for yourself, go play it."
As your gem collection grows, the graphics begin to glitch-out, like a NES game with dirty connectors. The more you collect, the buggier it becomes until the moment you grab the final gem and the lovely little world you’ve been exploring reverts to primitive blocks of color. By taking the gems you’ve sucked the life essence out of the world and turned it into an empty husk. It’s a sad moment. You have what you came for, but the cost was pretty high. The only thing left to do is climb into your ship and head for the next planet.
I suppose you could interpret Redder as a message about conversing resources and protecting the environment. The gems are oil or the rain forest or whatever and once they’re gone, they’re gone. The space man is the bad guy, taking what he needs and moving on. Personally, I found Terry Cavanagh’s analysis more satisfying and in line with my own thoughts. Redder visualizes that slightly empty feeling that always comes with finishing any really good piece of media. You’ve enjoyed another little slice of some one’s imagination and now that you’ve seen it all, it’s time to move on, time to go play something else. Honestly, he said it way better than I could.
“This happens eventually with any kind of non linear, open game – at some point, you will have seen everything there is to see, done everything you can do, and there is nothing left except to trigger that final mission. Or wander a broken world like a ghost. Source.
You can read a bunch of interesting thoughts on game design and play Terry’s games on his blog, distractionware. Redder creator Anna Anthropy also has a blog worthing checking out called Auntie Pixleante.