Never before have we come across an indie game that enchanted us like Red Rope: Don’t Fall Behind. It’s a symphony of several opposites. Dark and light. Scary and funny. Monstrous and beautiful. Frustrating and simple.
Red Rope invites you into a lucid dream. And for the overwhelming majority of players, you’re going to be literally tied to someone else during that dream.
This week we had a fireside chat with the creators of Red Rope, a group of talented indie developers called Yonder. If you’ve been initiated into the Red Rope universe, you’ve already gone through the Alice-In-Wonderland syndrome. What is going on here? Who are Her and Him? The questions are inevitable for every player.
“Red Rope is a forest of symbols. All there is to know about it is under the eyes of the players from the very beginning. It is just fragmented,” says Giuseppe Mancini, Red Rope’s lead designer. “It is up to them to link the bits one at a time. And it’s only them who can answer the questions you pose, if they want.”
It’s possible to skip all the mystery and just have fun. Red Rope has over 100 levels, dozens of enemies, puzzles, mechanisms, 4 mini-bosses, 5 bosses and a leaderboard. But in the name of all the vicarious gamers out there, we dug into the mystery a bit more.
“We took inspiration from the Red String of Fate, an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend,” Mancini told us enigmatically. “According to this myth, everyone is born with an indissoluble red string that ties them to those they are predestined to be with. We thought the rope would be a great element for a local co-op game, because it perfectly symbolizes the concept of collaboration. Actually, it radicalizes it. The players are forced to cooperate, because every decision and every mistake of one of them drastically affects the other, determining the destiny of both.”
“In this sense,” Mancini continues, “Red Rope is an experience that goes beyond the screen. Being good players is not enough. What matters is the ability to care for the other as we do for ourselves, to work together, to communicate. Abilities that exist outside of the game, but that Red Rope puts to the test at all times.”
In fact, fans have connected so deeply with the Red Rope challenge that they focus on working together for the glory of becoming characters within the game.
— IndieGala (@IndieGala) August 8, 2016
The subtleties of Red Rope flirt with you in the most unexpected ways. Unlike RPGs where you harvest experience points to level up, you – as in real life you – sharpen mental and social abilities that help you deal with the game. The game unfolds in harmony with your own determination.
“We’ve watched many people play Red Rope and all of them demonstrated an innate familiarity with the rope,” says Mancini. “They used it to their advantage in many inventive ways. It was like they already knew how to use it. In a way it’s not surprising. The rope is such a basic item that people have always played with.”
According to Mancini: “If you asked me the most difficult element in the game, my answer would be the other player. There’s nothing more uncertain than that. Not even a hardcore player will be able to understand and predict it completely.”
If you’ve had your patience tested by tackling Red Rope’s puzzles while bound to another player, you might be able to imagine how equally frustrating it could get creating the game.
“Each and everyone of us contributed to Red Rope not only with our competences, but with real passion,” says Mancini proudly. “We have been working hard on it since its inception during the Global Game Jam of 2015 and today that it’s on the market we are really proud of it.”
“Developing a game surely is an exciting thing, but I would be lying if I told you there were no difficult times,” Mancini confesses. “We have been working intensively on Red Rope for a year and a half now. Being unable to afford an office, we transformed my bedroom into a workspace. Every morning I had to close the sofa-bed to make room. For eight hours a day or more, our enthusiasm was the only thing that kept us going.”
Perhaps it was Red Rope’s own circular destiny that the game’s development would be as arduous as the gameplay! A difficulty that one fan has described as “tortuously satisfying”.
“Many times we thought about the day of the release,” says Mancini. “Will it be worth it? Will the players appreciate it? Questions we had to keep at bay if we wanted to stay concentrated and reach our goal.”
With a cult following of fans vying for immortality within the game, we think it’s safe to say that Red Rope’s ethos is appreciated.
“I think that making such a complex and risky game takes a touch of madness. Clearly everyone of us has got some, and I bet that is what got us to the release of our game,” concludes Mancini. “Regardless of how the game will sell, making it was a great experience and it created strong bonds between us, both professionally and personally.”
Steam Price: €12.99IG Price:
€8.70 + bonus game (limited time offer!)