A Day In The Woods in Review – To Grandmother’s House We Go

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When I first read the description for A Day In The Woods I got a bit nervous.  The iTunes description pegs it as a “stylish re-imagining of the traditional sliding puzzle game”, and I started having flashbacks of cheap plastic molding and the need to physically rip some tiles from their tracks and position them in the proper place forcefully in order to beat the puzzle.  Thankfully there is really very little similarity between this game and those frightful little toys.  Instead what we have is a delightful puzzle game that expands on the Red Riding Hood universe and challenges the mind to look beyond the trees for the forest (okay, I’m reaching with that pun, but it had to be done).

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The task is to help Red get through the woods to grandmother’s house.  As it turns out, this journey is a lot longer than any story has ever given it credit for, and it’s also apparently filled with a lot of imposter houses.  Nevertheless, you must aid Red in reaching each house and knocking on the door so you can get some sort of snide remark from the dwelling’s occupant, who usually doesn’t want to be bothered.  You can’t control Red directly, however, nor of that matter any other object or obstacle in the game.  Instead, you must use a magical sprite, constantly swapping tiles between the sprite and whatever object you wish to actually move.

Long before the wolf comes into play you’ll have to deal with bears and trapdoor spiders.  Thankfully you’ll have things like campfires, beehives and poor, fluffy rabbits to deal with these vile creatures.  Each has their own set of rules for how they interact with each other and with you, and as this is a family friendly game you’ll be spared the gruesomeness of watching innocent red get devoured by some hungry beast.  In fact, if there’s something you can’t get too close to the game just won’t let you do it.  This does mean you’ll have to work your way around things at times, though, and since one of the goals is limited number of footsteps, you’ll have to be creative in your movements.

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The game is comprised of 60 levels, and each level has 3 stars you can earn: one for simply completing the level, another for collecting all the flowers and berries on the level and a third for finishing the level on or below a certain number of moves.  Thankfully you can always earn one star.  The trick becomes trying to collect all the goodies on a level and still making it to the cabin door under the required number of moves.  It is quite possible on each level, but as my sorry scoreboard suggests it’s not all that easy.  There are no leaderboards to rank on or achievements to earn, but for a game like this being able to earn all three stars on a level is reward enough.  One thing that is kind of neat is that as you earn stars you’ll be able to unlock new accoutrements for the sprite as well as additional backdrops for the scenery.

Speaking of which, the graphics in A Day In The Woods are really neat.  At first things seem a bit washed out and lacking in detail, but when you realize that the characters and tiles are supposed to look like hand carved wooden pieces everything takes on a whole new dimension.  Granted the bits of animation detract from that illusion, but they are welcome none the less.  The sound effects work quite well and are much appreciated, especially since there is no music playing during the game itself.  This is really the single biggest flaw with this game, especially given the slow, methodical nature of the game play itself.  It’s easy to notice the lack of background music.

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A Day In The Woods is a breath of fresh air on the App Store.  It’s engaging, it’s challenging, and it doesn’t feel quite like anything else I’ve played.  The visuals do a great job of capturing the board game nature of the product, and the sound effects actually help bring a little life into this imagining of the Red Riding Hood tale.  If they would just add some music this game would be an A+ instead of an A.

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App Summary
Title: A Day In The WoodsDeveloper: RetroEpic Software
Reviewed Ver:1.0.0Min OS Req: iOS 6.0
Price:$4.99App Size:159.10MB
  • Great concept
  • Challenging but manageable levels
  • Cool board game look
  • Nice sound effects
  • No music

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