|Pardon the dust!
This page includes some jargon that hasn't been added to the site's glossary yet. I'll be around to fix this later, but sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.
Review: The Red Strings Club
At a Glance
|ESRB Rating:||NR - Not Rated|
|My Rating:||Adults - 18+|
|Genre:||Other / Point and Click Adventure|
|Review Published On:||June 3rd 2020|
Your progress is saved* automatically after almost every major choice, so you don't need to worry about losing your progress.
The biggest issue with this game, by a large margin, is the large amount of swearing. Some characters also talk about sexual topics in a crass manner.
As you might expect from a game influenced by transhumanism, the Red Strings Club takes place in a cyberpunk dystopia where the majority of the population have augmented themselves with cybernetic implants. The megacorporation Supercontinent Ltd. is the primary manufacturer of these implants, but something is going on behind the scenes. There are rumors that this company has recently changed directions, and not for the better.
These rumors are more or less confirmed by the sudden appearance of a damaged "Akara" android at the Red Strings Club. Upon investigation, the club's owner and his friends quickly learn that Supercontinent Ltd is planning on installing a new update to its devices that will alter the behavior of any implant user. The goal of this project is allegedly to do away with things like depression, sadness, and other undesirable emotions, but it also sounds like a dangerous brainwashing tool that could prove disastrous if it fell into the wrong hands.
This leads to the gameplay itself. You have limited control over the club's owner and bartender, Donovan. Acting as his "muse", you'll enable him to create cocktails that channel into his client's various emotions. By changing the client's state of mind with these drinks, you can open doors that would otherwise be closed, and allow his silver tongue to sneak some sensitive information out of them.
Along the way, Donovan and the repaired Akara unit will discuss various topics related to the current situation, continuing the theme of questioning your beliefs regarding manipulation and control. This is the game's main theme: How much control can you have on another person before it becomes unethical or immoral, and how much control do people really have over their own choices?
I'd invite all of my readers to try this one out and work towards the answers themselves. But be warned: this game touches on a lot of topics that are considered offensive or problematic. The large amount of drugs and alcohol is only the tip of the iceberg. People swear, talk about mature subjects, and sometimes your actions have tragic consequences. This is not a game for the kids, and to be honest, I'm not sure they'd understand the depth of what's being discussed in this story anyway.
Points of Interest
There is also a set of steam trading cards, should you be interested in collecting them.
Concerns and Issues
Additionally, a number of the characters in this game smoke tobacco products while at the bar or just in general, and it's briefly mentioned that all psychoactive drugs have been legalized in this world. In a way, this ties back into the previous game's point about how we seek happiness with transient things.
Of course, this message is somewhat lost when you take something else into account -- if you're observant enough, you can acquire a short-term memory blocker from Akara. These are pills that you can sneak into people's drinks to make them forget about whatever they just talked about. Gameplay wise, these pills simply reset the dialogue options for that specific encounter.
As a final note about the violent content* in this game, Donovan can end up getting forced into a game of Russian Roulette. How this pans out is up to you.
The best non-spoiler example of this is a strange smuggler who visits the bar midway through the game. Calling himself Gost, he displays unusual behavior, including teleknesis and the ability to disappear on command. This visibly upsets both Akara and Donovan, but not enough to prevent them from making a deal with their strange guest.