key review info
- Game: Redshirt
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: No
- Reviewed on:
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I never thought I would ever play a video game that would ask me to think whether it was a good idea to break up with my current lover in order to accept a relationship request from my current boss, which would make it easier to advance my career.
But, then again, I never played something as weird, funny and captivating as Redshirt.
Redshirt, as the name implies, draws much of its visual and thematic inspiration from Star Trek, but this is a vision of the far future that would probably make the members of the Federation cringe because it’s about survival, social relationships and inevitable betrayal between friends.
The structure of the experience, created by The Tiniest Shark and published by Positech Games, is deceptively simple, but there’s enough gameplay hiding under its cute cartoon graphics to keep an obsessive player occupied for tens of hours.
Basically, in the far future, the gamer becomes one of the thousands of people working on an anonymous space station, dealing with two primary needs: creating relationships and advancing a career.
The main tool in Redshirt is Spacebook, a social network that allows anyone to send friend requests, post updates, sent messages, organize complex events with other people, visit the holodeck and eventually enter a romantic relationship.
A player has a set number of actions for each day that he can spend as he sees fit, trying to increase his level of charisma, gain new skills and make sure that as many friends as possible continue to have a positive opinion of him.
At the same time, each character has to choose a career and try to get the skills and the expertise required to advance, because a better job generates more money to spend on items that boost skills and on more actions for Spacebook.
So far, Redshirt sounds like a far future Sims copy, but the game then throws in bit of danger via its Away Mission mechanic.
In true Star Trek fashion, gamers are at times chosen to go on missions to strange planets where, as a redshirted member of the crew, they are likely to witness their friends dying or, even worse, shuffle off this mortal coil.
This means that every day spent on the space station becomes a complex decision-making labyrinth, filled with questions like: do I try to friend that high-level ambassador, accepting the risk of reputation shattering refusal? Do I cultivate my medical skills or do I try to find a new line of work? Is it worth repairing that robot cat? How can I keep my Ctulhu-looking alien girlfriend happy in the long term?
The interesting gameplay decisions that Redshirt creates are backed by very solid writing, which manages to make fun, in a loving way, of science fiction tropes, a lot of them taken from Star Trek, and modern culture.
I have laughed out loud a few times and chuckled as I played when the game referenced Call Me Maybe, the tribbles and Jane Austen novels in just a few minutes.
Redshirt also benefits from a solid graphics design, a mix of cartoonish art, futuristic user interface and suggestive character portraits, even if the animations are pretty limited.
The music is also heavily Star Trek-inspired and does a good job of punctuating the big events in a player’s life, including the failure of yet another friend request.
There are many similarities between Redshirt and the Kudos series, but the science fiction-based title is more interesting because of its theme, which many video game fans will relate to, and because of the increased potential for weird events.
Redshirt can get a little repetitive if a player starts over to experience the various races and station setups, but the core gameplay mechanics are mostly solid and engaging.
Fans of science fiction and comedy should try to spend at least 100 days on their space station without dying in order to experience the insanity that can result when mixing Spacebook and work in the virtual far future.