Monday, 22 January 2018 14:25

REVIEW: The Red Strings Club (PC)

Written by Jayden Healy
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Up and coming developer Deconstructeam have started the New Year with the new indie title called The Red Strings Club. Like most indie games, at a glance this game would appear relatively simplistic but what lurks beneath the surface is a thoughtful, cyber punk story played out in a similar manner to titles like the Telltale series’ games.

Like a lot of similar titles of this genre, what this game lacks in action and core gameplay is instead compensated by a gripping and intriguing plot that easily peaks one’s interest. However, this can often leave the gaming community at large relatively divided as this particular style of storytelling can leave many gamers impressed while others may end up putting this game down craving something more ’hands on’.

So as mentioned, The Red Strings Club is story driven and one might even say it is more of an animated book then a game. The plot is played out through 3 characters; Brandeis the revolutionary hacker, Akara – 184 the android and Donovan the bartender. They’re all very much a part of the same story, and the events of the game unfold through numerous dialogue sequences broken up by mini games catering to each characters uniqueness. For example, the game begins in a bar that goes by the games title. Brandeis is casually playing the piano while conversation about recent events bounces back and forth between Brandeis and Donovan. During this exchange of words Brandeis then requests a drink whereby the player assumes the role of Donovan and must mix up a beverage using various ingredients to perfect the brew and proceed the story further.

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How the story proceeds depends on the drink the player mixed as different drinks affect ones mood differently. Quite early on the game takes some rather dark turns living up to its cyber punk nature. The setting itself sets up for some very thought provoking themes and a lot of this games story telling focus’s indirectly on a lot of real world problems experienced by popular internet culture and modern day morality. This is especially evident when playing through the perspective of Akara – 184 in the factory she was made. She is situated by an assembly line working a kind of ‘pottery’ machine where she is to fabricate ‘modules’ that can be implanted into humans to alter their mental health. These implants perform various feats such as boosting their online popularity or numbing their senses to the negativities of social media completely.

Such things are largely controversial in 
the real world today and the very idea of such a possibility is definitely food for thought. That’s where this game shines in my opinion, it’s not just telling its own story but also reaching out beyond the game and touching the personal narratives of its audience simultaneously. Such a thing is not an easy task.

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From the opening sequence the game showcases it’s graphical 8-bit, 2-dimensional beauty. The whole retro vibe of the art style ties in nicely with the cyberpunk theme, all of which is complimented by the soundtrack performed by Fingerspit who also did music for Deconstructeam’s previous title Gods Will Be Watching. It should also be mentioned that The Red Strings Club was published by none other than the largely successful Devolver Digital, famous for other titles such as Shadow Warrior, Serious Sam and all-time indie fav Hotline Miami. It makes a lot of sense that DD would be the team to publish this title as it seems to share a lot of themes with Hotline Miami from the dark, ominous over tones to the stylishly violent old school visuals.

Overall The Red Strings Club is a solid indie contender. It’s classic approach to visual art is always largely popular with indie game enthusiasts and its menacing, inauspicious narrative keeps your senses hungry for more. The cyberpunk setting can make for some unique approaches to storytelling, however this kind of experimentation in gaming can often create weird and unsual gameplay seqences. But if you have a taste for indie classics and a relatively open mind then this game is very much like a good book; easy to pick up and hard to put down.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 3.0 / 5.0
  • Release Date: 23rd Jan, 2018
  • Platform: PC, Steam
  • Developer: Deconstructeam
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Genre: Indie, Adventure