Games are not often as straightforward in their titles as Don't Touch Anything Red. This simple infinite-runner style puzzle game is a test of cunning, reflexes, and one's ability to avoid touching red things. Though the premise and presentation are simple, and there's not a lot here, this self-explanatory title is good for bursts of pick-up and play action, as well as some multiplayer laughs.
There are two single-player modes available: arcade and gravity. Each mode sees a small square automatically moving right through a corridor of red blocks, point blocks, and multiplier blocks. In arcade mode, the block can either jump over obstacles or "flip" gravity so that the ceiling becomes the floor. The only difference in gravity mode is that the block can only flip between the ceiling and floor; the objective of not touching anything red is still the same. The gameplay here, while functional, is nothing remarkable. Jumping over red... erm... "things," and collecting point squares is fun for a short while, but quickly becomes monotonous. Players who are really into score-chasing may get a degree of mileage out of the solo modes, but for most part these will become tedious quickly.
However, the multiplayer modes make Don't Touch Anything Red shine, and are the highlights of the experience. The co-op mode has four players working in tandem to control their blocks, build a collective score and, of course, avoid those darned red things. But the star of the show here is the versus mode, which pits one person holding the GamePad against four player-controlled blocks. In this mode, the GamePad player is responsible for placing the dreaded red things on the field, and the four other players jump and flip to see who can last the longest. This mode is a riot, with the four competitors never knowing when a block will appear, or where for that matter. We got the most playtime out of this mode, with the easy-to-learn mechanics allowing for quick, uproarious gameplay sessions. One complaint here is that we noticed player four had a slightly unfair advantage when playing versus - this is because the players are lined up in order, which means the player in the rear has more time to react to "those which must not be touched" than the player(s) in the front.
The visual presentation is incredibly bare bones, with the assets being nothing more than solid-coloured squares and the background being plain and white. Since this isn't a genre that heavily relies on art direction, it's easy to look past, but a touch more variety in visuals would have been appreciated; the whole aesthetic makes the experience feel a bit cheap and slapdash. The music, composed by chiptune artist Kubbi, is bouncy, catchy, and goes along well with the action.
There just isn't a whole lot to Don't Touch Anything Red in terms of things to do or single-player elements that really hooked us. However, the multiplayer modes are smartly implemented and the 5-player mode makes great use of the GamePad. This is especially refreshing since so many developers (indie or otherwise) seem to be struggling to come up with smart uses of the controller. The presentation is lackadaisical, but considering the asking price it's not difficult to recommend Don't Touch Anything Red. Though somewhat underwhelming as a full experience, it's a decently fun (and cheap) party game. Just make sure to have friends to not touch anything red with.