Game Review #237: The Red Strings Club (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Reviewer: Chad M.
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: 03/14/2019
Price (at time of review): $14.99
Buy The Red Strings Club from the eShop here.
Cyberpunk Like I’ve Never Seen
I love all things Sci-Fi, and even more so the sub-genre of cyberpunk, Strange Days and Blade Runner being two of my favorite movies of all time. Thinking of badass Rick Deckard rushing through the streets, hunting down rogue androids in a noir-type atmosphere has always been a dream to get in game format. So, when I heard the new game coming out from Devolver was a cyberpunk game, I was beyond excited to get my hands on it—not to mention that anytime Devolver puts out a new game it’s on my radar, since they have a very strong track record! This new game is The Red Strings Club, developed by Spanish developer Deconstructeam, who is based out of Valencia. Games like The Red Strings Club give me a Catch 22 feeling, as I love playing them and experiencing what they have to offer, but find reviewing them to sometimes be a tall task… so let’s jump in.
Blade Runner Shaken Not Stirred
So, when I hear cyberpunk, I always go to Blade Runner, but this couldn’t be further from that. In The Red Strings Club, you play as three different characters—Donovan, Brandeis, and Akara—who will interact throughout this visual novel, which also includes small mini-games. It took me about 4 hours to finish, but the game can easily be played again if you’re a completionist.
The main story follows a bartender and his lover as they work together to bring down a corporation that is seeking to reshape the world by releasing a mind control technology that blocks criminal behavior. I don’t want to go any further into the story, as the game being short and the story being the main selling point, I feel I should keep that secret for everyone that will buy and enjoy this gem of a game.
WarioWare, Cyberpunk Style
The Red Strings Club’s gameplay is broken down into two main parts. First is the larger part, which is the visual novel that allows you to choose the path of these wayward characters. The second part of the gameplay is the mini games, which felt very reminiscent of small-party WarioWare games.
The visual novel aspect will have you questioning things like ethics, morals, and humanity. This game goes deep, and I mean that! It blew me away with the arcing story, and as it drew me in, it had me really asking myself questions that would test one’s moral fiber. As Donovan, you use knowledge and secrets as forms of currency, and you quickly find out what will make people talk to you.
The second half has you playing mini games, like mixing drinks for bar patrons; and normally this would sound simple, but depending on how you mix their drinks, it will awaken certain emotions, like lust, euphoria, and regret, to name a few. This was intriguing, as not only was I taking advantage of my customers and milking them for information, but also, I’d home in and mix them a drink that would manipulate their minds and make them spill the beans.
As Akara, you have your Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore Ghost moment when you spin and craft Android parts, which felt like making pottery meets human 3-D printer. You make implants that help androids meet their goals of being more persuasive to investors and having more confidence when seeking a mate. The mini games were fun and serve their purpose, but we are here for the story, and any shortcomings in the mini games are overshadowed by the story, but the mini games do help break things up a bit.
Audio & Visuals
The soundtrack in The Red Strings Club is bluesy and jazzy, and it’s absolutely hypnotic. I can’t tell you how much this soundtrack just sucks you in and commands you to kick off your shoes, relax, and play this game. I say hypnotic because I found myself so drawn in that, before I knew it, I’d finished the entire game, and it felt so breezy. The Red Strings Club art style is done in a beautiful 90s 16-bit pixel art style, with a lot of dark colors and small amounts of bright colors littered throughout—like bright neon signs—that illuminate the dark settings. The art and character designs really are done well and are pleasing to look at—though seeing naked pixel characters was a little jarring, and it made the 12-year-old boy in me chuckle inside just a bit.
It’s A Wrap!!!
I’ll tackle value first, as some may say that the price tag is a bit steep for a game that can be beat in 4 hours, and fully completed in double the time. I understand that, but after playing the game, it’s more like an interactive book or movie, and we spend this much or more all the time on both. So, I’d say as much as I was deeply connected and drawn into the enthralling story and the beautiful art and music, the game is definitely a good buy. I recommend picking up The Red Strings Club and diving head first into this cyberpunk noir experience.
Buy The Red Strings Club from the eShop here.
Follow Devolver Digital
*Review Code Provided by Tinsley PR