Dear RED - Extended (PC) Review

By Jordan Hurst 14.05.2016

Review for Dear RED - Extended on PC

Multiple endings in games work when used in one of two ways: as the culmination of an entire alternate narrative, or as a hidden extra for devoted players. They do not work when determined by single choices made in the story's final moments, and they certainly don't work when those choices comprise the majority of the interactivity. This is the case with the Extended Steam version of Dear RED, a title that's basically the game industry's obsession with multiple endings made manifest.

The plot follows Red, a girl who witnessed her mother's murder at a young age and has tracked down the killer years later for a shot at revenge. From there, events progress via a small series of simple choices taken by the player, leading to one of 17 possible outcomes. That sounds reasonably intriguing as a bite-sized narrative experiment akin to Aisle or The Stanley Parable. In fact, for the first 15-20 minutes (out of a total of just under an hour), the experience is moderately engaging, because at that point, there's still a sense of mystery and potential to the setup. However, it quickly proceeds to make every mistake the premise could possibly house.

First, about half of the endings are merely inconsequential variations on the same event. This is especially frustrating, because there are plenty of seemingly significant locations and objects that could have been used for more diverse choices, and instead we get to decide between "Kill" and "Introduce yourself, then kill." Additionally, the extreme, abrupt contrast between several of the conclusions stretches Red's personality in every direction until she's just whatever the scene needs her to be to create the most drama. It's either a commentary on the malleability of human emotion, an unspoken indication of playable bipolar disorder, or a symptom of bad writing.

Screenshot for Dear RED - Extended on PC

That may sound overly cynical, but it's only because Dear RED's story lacks discipline everywhere else. The lie/truth dichotomy that's advertised as the central theme has no more significance than any other choice or dialogue presented. The "open to interpretation" defence is soundly demolished when the game labels one ending "real" as literally as possible - the words "Real Ending" appear onscreen for a few seconds before the credits roll. Finally, despite 17 opportunities to weave revelations organically into the narrative, it instead explains the ultimate reason for everything in a context-free text dump after one of the conclusions.

Some of this could be forgiven if that ultimate explanation wasn't the most boneheaded thing ever. That's not even an exaggeration; it is indisputably the stupidest non-joke plot twist ever encountered in a game. Not even the game's numerous translation issues could be responsible for it; there is no version of this revelation that makes sense. Honestly, the only reason Dear RED doesn't land at the bottom of the barrel for story-based games is that it's at least a functional product. The audio is respectable and the sprite art is simple, but effective, even though it comes with the usual RPG Maker trappings of static animation and rigid movement.

Screenshot for Dear RED - Extended on PC

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

It would be easy to call Dear RED - Extended another case of "interesting concept, terrible execution," but the concept isn't actually as interesting as it thinks it is. With its half-baked themes and inoffensive presentation, it's really just a run-of-the-mill visual novel that happens to be condensed into the space of a lunch break. The fact that the plot is built around such an absurdly illogical surprise is just the biggest nail in a coffin already riddled with them.

Developer

Lee Sang

Publisher

Sometimes You

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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