- Developer: Deconstructeam
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Release Date: 14/03/2019
- Review code provided by Devolver Digital
The Red Strings Club is a pixel art cyberpunk narrative-driven thriller experience. Donovan the owner of The Red Strings Club is also an information broker with almost mystical powers of extracting information. You do not order a drink in this Club, rather Donovan mixes a drink depending on the mood he wants you in to get the most information from the client.
After a mysterious android Akara-184, falls into the club it emerges that the company Supercontinent Ltd is on the verge of releasing Social Psyche Welfare: a system that will eliminate depression, anger and fear from society. Donovan and Brandeis a cyber-hacker, believes this to be brainwashing and not an improvement in human society. The two with a host of other ‘interesting’ characters get drawn into stopping and taking down Supercontinent Ltd.
The Red Strings Club explores the causality of happiness and the lack thereof, as well as ethics, social-political views and sentience, to name but a few.
Here Is Your Drink!
When mixing a drink, Donovan will read the mood of the client, this will be represented by circles on the silhouette of the character in different places and sizes and the player’s circle in the middle. In order to get to the mood that is desired mixing the perfect drink is required. On the bar are four alcohols each one moving the circle in one of the four cardinal directions. Circle to big? Add some ice which will shrink the circle to the right size. As the story expands so does the amount and types of drinks Donovan can make.
Once the client has had a drink their mood will change, this will allow Donovan a line of inquiry that may not have been open to him before, but also will close other questions down. This, in turn, will affect the overall story depending on what is learnt.
Let’s Make Some Pottery
Akara-184 is an empathy android and is able to make clients happy and give them what they want. In order to do so, she has to make pottery style implants.
This is done by firstly examining the client’s file and seeing what they ‘need.’ Once the blue print is acquired it needs to be made and subsequently installed. Just like with real pottery the wheel needs to be spun and the shape carved out. In order to do so, Akara-184 has access to three tools, a semi-circle, rectangle and pointer, each allowing the pottery to be moulded. There is also a rewind button which proves incredibly handy.
Depending on the implant installed, the world around you will change, for better or for worse.
Akara-184 has another function in the game I will not say what it is to avoiding entering spoiler territory. I will say however, pay attention!!
A Glitch In The System
The Red Strings Club was a PC game to start with and, it becomes abundantly clear with the controls of the drinks and pottery sections. The sensitivity it to high for both aspects making it at times frustrating, to say the least.
For myself it was more so on the pottery aspect though. Everything would be going well then I would move the stick too hard, and boom, had to rewind and start over. This happened a number of times. It would have been good to be able to reduce the sensitivity of the sticks in the options.
Game Length And Replayability
The whole game last around 4-5 hours, as this is an interactive story this is around the average length for these types of games. Also with these type of story-driven games, it is also replayable with multiple endings and different choices to make throughout.
The narrative game has three distinct types of players. One type is the people who will play and keep playing. The second type is the ones who will play once and will consider playing again. The third type just does not play at all. These are the same in all the games I hear you cry!! This is very true therer are but they are not so clear cut as they are in narrative games.
This is a shame as some people will be missing out on some beautifully written and thought-provoking stories. I do however understand these feelings, my general thought on games is “It has to be no less than 8 hours long.” I am hesitant to go into games like this one knowing it was 4-5 hours long, especially with it wanting £13 for it. I am however so glad that I did as this is setting the bar for how narrative games should be done.