The Red String Club is a cyberpunk game set to a jazzy, lo-fi soundtrack. It has just enough of the mystical to keep the bartending mini game entertaining. Along with an underworld smuggler and a game of russian roulette, this game has all the makings of a fun adventure game. Don’t be fooled, however. This game comes out swinging with the emotional punches.
The opening scene does a great job at immediately setting the stakes. Seeing Brondeis falling to his doom is sure to send your pulse racing. The pace doesn’t slow down from here. Players are introduced to Brondeis and Donovan, the bartender. A brief scene shows their banter and camaraderie. A battered android then wanders into the bar soon after and thrusts the two men into a conspiracy that could doom humanity.
Through the eyes of Ankara-184 we get an inside look at Supercontinent LTD. This organization creates implants to meet any need a consumer could want. If that sounds too good to be true, it is. Each installation comes with a heaping of the handler’s decision on what’s truly needed.For example, come in for confidence and leave with no ambitions at all.
This look behind the scenes of the corp introduces an interesting mechanic; pottery. This mini game sees players shaping the mods they’re about to install on others. As if the setting isn’t sterile or dehumanizing enough, each person is held up in the nude like dry cleaning. At the same time players can have peaceful meditation tunes play as they make each mod. This can become tedious, so it might be efficient to make all the mods before clicking on the door. This way each mod can be slotted in as each person comes along.
As players return to the bar, they’ll be introduced to the main mini game. Most of TRSC will take place in the bar from Donovan’s point of view. Here it’s not just about pouring drinks but finding a mix that hits the right spirit node.
These appear as circles on the character’s silhouette. Different mixtures and adding ice help move the target around. Once the spirit node has been hit, it’s time to question the guest to see what info can be gained. It pays to be thorough here even though a lot of drinks will get poured out.
These conversations will do more than reveal all the details of Supercontinent’s plan of removing negativity. They will discuss the necessity of these negatives, sadness and anxiety, to the human experience. Some characters can’t be persuaded from their path. Others just might come to see that the best of intentions could still lead to harm. Unless the corp is stopped.
The Red String Club is roughly four hours long yet has the potential for replay ability. Through Ankara, players can receive either an amnesia pill or unlock different encounters if they pass the android’s quizzes. There is an option to redo these, so it doesn’t seem like there’s a way to miss out on these. There is an auto save system that locks players into dialogue choices though. Characters can also be lost, so make choices carefully for everyone to reach the end safely.
The one downside was the impersonating voices section. Calling the Supercontinent employees should’ve added to the illusion of espionage. It quickly reminded me of how tedious landlines, and even old cell phones, were instead. It drags almost immediately. There is a constant lightning flash going off every few minutes. The tutorials up to this point have been good. Here it’s easy to forget to contact Donovan every time you learn new information, so you can use the right voice. Mistakes will add up. This section mars what is otherwise an immersive game.
That being said, The Red String Club was an all-around solid indie experience. With the smooth music playing in the background throughout, the matter-of-fact personality of the main cast, the devastation players could (potentially) walk away with still feels like it came from left field. The dramatic opening warned players. Donovan warned Brondeis. By the time the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but come to the conclusion that I had sprinted towards a train wreck. One that simultaneously led to victory. For fans of cyberpunk with a heartwarming story hidden beneath the plot, The Red String Club is a great experience.