The Red Strings Club is a narrative, cyberpunk experience about happiness, depression and humanity as a whole. In this future, a corporation called Supercontinent is on a mission to eliminate all negative emotion from society via their Social Psyche Warfare system; an objective which freelance hacker, Brandeis, and his bartender partner, Donovan, don’t agree with.
When a rogue empathy android enters The Red Strings Club, they find themselves embroiled in a deep corporate conspiracy and will stop at nothing to uncover the truth and bring them down.
Donovan has the ability to see into people’s souls and he uses this ability to mix drinks that manipulate the moods of his customers. Customer’s moods are important because they allow you get different types of information out of them while talking at the bar. Some customers may refuse to divulge certain nuggets of information if they aren’t in the right frame of mind. You have several bottles of alcohol and a glass with which to serve the drink in. Your client will have ‘soul nodes’ placed at different points on their body, which is basically a circle with an emotion in it. You have to move something called a ‘soul disk’ over the emotion that you want to induce by mixing the drinks. Each drink you pour moves the ‘soul disk’ in a particular direction and you finish off by using ice cubes to make the disk fit over the ‘soul node’. It’s a unique but very fiddly experience that requires precision and patience; even more so when advanced mixing is added later on.
The clients of The Red Strings Club themselves are fascinating, with unique personalities that shine through in their dialogue. Once a mood is induced, Donovan will have several questions he can ask them and a variety of things to say as conversation flows. The responses you can choose are extremely thought-provoking due to the philosophical and ethical debates you will be having. Even if you choose what you believe to be the ‘right’ response, clients questions and viewpoints can make you think again. Some responses can even make the client doubt their own beliefs which you can see the effects of in later sections.
It is through the android, Akara, you will find out that humans are not quite like they are today. They have special modules implanted into their bodies which install desired skills and personality traits. Akara is the one responsible for looking at the client’s issue, then creating and installing modules to solve whatever problem they are having. Here, you are met with some moral dilemmas. Which module should you install? Will it
really make them happy? Should they even be having them in the first place? For instance; for a client desiring more social media followers, should she have a module to increase social network charisma or should all need for social acceptance be eliminated?
The modules are created on a pottery table where the module must be sculpted to fit the shape of the hologram. There is a machine to change tool shape, put music on for concentration or reset the module back to a previous state. The table must be kept spinning at all times while sculpting is taking place, which is done by a lot of rapid mouse clicking.
Some modules are an easier shape than others and areas that are correctly sculpted will turn green. Like Donovan’s drink mixing, this is an incredibly fiddly task which takes a steady hand and a lot of focus. As the story intensifies, Brandeis uses his skills to gain access to Supercontinents
headquarters. This section is a type of puzzle which involves calling people on the telephone and impersonating the right people’s voices to get information. It’s interesting to experiment with calling every other character as certain people to get different reactions based on their
The writing is fantastic and captivating the whole way through and it is almost impossible to stop playing once you start. An ambient soundtrack perfectly compliments the changing moods and locations while the stylish and charming 2D pixel art excellently conveys the feeling of being in a cyberpunk world.
At 3-4 hours long The Red Strings Club is short but makes a big impact. Replayability is there if you want to try out different responses. It is a game that makes you look at your inner self, and anybody into deep narratives with morally grey aspects should play it at least once.
+ Captivating writing
+ Interesting characters
+ Thought provoking
The Not So Good
– Mixing drinks and crafting modules is fiddly
Overall score 9/10
Developed by: Deconstructeam
Published by: Devolver Digital