A Day in the Woods
As you may or may not know, many fairy tales have been sugared up from their original versions. For example, in Cinderella, did you know the evil stepsisters originally cut off their toes to fit their fat feet into the glass slipper? While not as awesomely gruesome, South Africa-based RetroEpic’s A Day in the Woods is a sliding puzzle game that shows us just how extensive Little Red Riding Hood’s trek through the forest actually was.
In this game, you must guide the hapless Red along a field of panels to her grandmother’s house at the edge of the woods. To do this, you simply slide one panel at a time until the basket-carrying damsel is within knocking distance of Granny’s abode. The catch: the cabin you finally reach is, as misfortune would have it, never Grandma’s actual house. It’s all too reminiscent of the Super Mario Bros. recurring message: “Our princess is in another castle!” And so the next level begins.
Controls are a cinch, as there’s only really one command, and that’s clicking on the panel you want to slide. You can also click to zoom in on helpful signposts that feed you hot tips for each level. Such swooping camerawork is a nice touch that really takes advantage of the game’s beautiful, 3D landscape. The graphics really do have a dreamy, fairy tale-like aura to them, and the music is appropriately Brothers Grimm-ish as well. Another charming touch is the fact that the graphics have the appearance of being carved wooden figurines, which goes well with the whole “we’re lost in forest” theme.
As you progress through the game’s 60-odd levels, you’ll encounter obstacles that are introduced at an appropriate pace. For example, you’ll eventually encounter bears that are scattered about the meadow. Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for our fleshy, protein-packed, easy-to-swallow-in-one-bear-gulp heroine), Red’s panel cannot be switched to be adjacent to a bear panel. Meanwhile, flowers and berries eventually appear, and if you go out of your way to guide Red to the flora, you’ll be rewarded extra points.
Each level will give you a star rating. If you finish under “par” (the recommended number of slides it takes to get Red to the cabin), and if you pick up flowers or berries, you might nab yourself a perfect three out of three star rating.
The only discernible downside to this polished piece is perhaps the number of levels, but even that’s kind of a stretch. Sixty levels is definitely a respectable amount, but if I had to come up with some criticism, a triple-digit amount of missions would have been enough to satisfy even the hungriest of puzzle players, I think.
With its charming board game aesthetic, easy-to-pick up controls and objective, obstacles that feel well-integrated, and no unnecessary bells and whistles, A Day in the Woods is a refreshing take on the sliding puzzle genre.