The Red Strings Club (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 22.01.2018 12

Review for The Red Strings Club on PC

There have been some absolutely fantastic point and click adventures that have been built with a purposeful retro style, most of which are made using the Adventure Game Studio (AGS). This is not one of them. Forget the superb Blackwell series, or the cyberpunk thrills of Technobabylon, or sublime character switching antics of Resonance. The Red Strings Club is more of a text-driven, long and drawn out attempt at a social message, tied together by some mind numbing attempts at puzzles.

First off, the only pointing and clicking done for the majority of The Red Strings Club will really be for skipping through the large amounts of text thrown at you right from the off. Other than that, in-between listening to the obvious point that the two lead characters - a bartender and super hacker - are clearly in love with each other (something so lacking in subtlety it becomes cringe-worthy, especially towards the end where the classic "I love you" line saves someone… What next? A gentle tear to resurrect the dead?), there are some extremely clunky attempts at challenging gamers with mundane tasks.

Screenshot for The Red Strings Club on PC

Want to play hacker yourself and change the personality of industry bigwigs to mess with "the system"? Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, no. Instead, it starts off with having to scroll through a list of personality types to install into their minds, with each new one found needing to be…modelled out of clay. Yes, the cursor can be changed to different shapes and then carefully moved around to shave chunks off and form specific objects. Oh, not before having to hammer the left mouse button like crazy to actually spin the pottery wheel first.

What other delights are in store for players of The Red Strings Club? Ah yes, quizzes. Everyone loves a good quiz. Except when it is filled with pointless questions that require guesswork most of the time, and reward with nothing particularly interesting should you manage to actually fluke your way to a score of more than 7/10. It is even worse when it bears no relevance to proceedings, making it pure padding to fill out what is already quite a short experience.

Screenshot for The Red Strings Club on PC

What follows is more text, as character after character enters the bar to chat with the bartender (yes, there is no travelling around here) who has special powers and can change people's moods by mixing special cocktails. Oh, and guess what? YOU get to make the cocktails! Yes, in another exercise of patience, bottles with different directional arrows must be carefully picked up and poured, mixing the right combination into a glass (or mixer later on, complete with mouse-driven shaking required…) to move the on-screen marker around to fit over whatever emotion's shape is hovering around the customer. Throw in some ice to change the size of the marker, and away you go… Mood changed, back to the questioning section, hoping to draw information from the drinker… All being characters that are hardly developed, leaving no connection with the player at all.

Screenshot for The Red Strings Club on PC

More questions for the player to deal with, more social messages being pushed via the not particularly gripping writing, and then a game of cat and mouse, trying to talk someone down and stop them from shooting you. Lower their guard, move forwards, spook them, move backwards… Want to cheat? Just hack them and give some sedation. There is never any fear of failure, and also no enjoyment in succeeding, leading up to one of the worst finales ever - sitting around dialling random phone numbers, using various 'hacked' voices of the characters met at the bar earlier in the story to garner key information to do one last hack and 'save the world.' If it all sounds trite, uninspiring, and downright boring, it is simply because that is exactly what The Red Strings Club is.

Screenshot for The Red Strings Club on PC

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Sadly, The Red Strings Club will fool some into thinking it follows in the footsteps of classics from WadjetEye Games purely because of its aesthetics. Do not be mistaken, though. This is not a patch on any of that company's releases, nor is it affiliated with it at all. Instead, this takes an intriguing style and theme of the world gone mad for technology, mixes in some extremely random love story between the lead duo of hacker and bartender that bears no relevance to the underlying tale, adds in a heavy dose of some of the most painful attempts at puzzles, and then perfectly tops it all off with an overly wordy script filled with too much padding.

Developer

Deconstructeam

Publisher

Devolver Digital

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 Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Critics (guest) 23.01.2018#1

you have no clue about what you are talking

No, the reviews giving it 7, 8 and above have no idea... Seriously, I'm shocked. I even read one 8/10 review that touched upon a lot of the criticism I've levelled at the game, yet ended up scoring it so high. Makes no sense.

As someone that has played countless games of this ilk, I think I know what I'm talking about. But hey, rather than leaving a pointless comment, feel free to actually share what you like about the game and I'll be sure to reply.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Me (guest) 24.01.2018#3

I disregarded your opinion as soon as you said "skipping through large amounts of text" 

never review another game.

It's mundane prose - not deep story. Most people won't want to sit and read it all, like I did, so yeah, most will start to skip it. I *had* to read it all, but a lot of it is contrived and monotonous, trying really hard to make a bold statement about the world, but missing the mark. Technobabylon tackles the theme far better, for instance.

Have you played this, then? If so, and you enjoy the story, fair enough. However, the puzzle are awful, making the experience even more boring to work through.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

He is right Adam. Stop reviewing games.

More importantly, though, stop playing games that you don't enjoy. This way every - potential -review of yours could be a 10/10! Yay!!!

A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis
drummond13 (guest) 24.01.2018#6

"A bartender and super hacker - are clearly in love with each other (something so lacking in subtlety it becomes cringe-worthy"

They're in a relationship.  They're actively dating each other and, so, are openly affectionate.  Why does it have to be "subtle"?

It didn't add anything to the story, for me - seemed to distract from the core theme and felt kind of shoe-horned in. It's like the writers weren't sure whether to go down the full-on world's end, brain control route, or make it a love story, so hedged their bets somewhat. There's even a pointlessly Nora Ephron moment later into the game that totally pulls away from the dark setting. Maybe the team was going for some "light relief" in the dark world, but it was just jarring instead.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
drummond13 (guest) 24.01.2018#8

Interesting.  I felt the relationship was thematically appropriate in a game that focused on how people should be free to feel what they feel.  It didn't feel shoe-horned in to me; it just wasn't overly commented on, which I also felt was appropriate. 

I guess it's an "agree to disagree" situation.  I really liked the game and the story and the puzzles didn't bother me as much as they clearly bothered you (though I can definitely see how they wouldn't be for everyone).

 

Yeah, different strokes, different folks. I play through a lot of text adventures, and I can't love them all, sadly. Have you played this to the end? Ah, seriously, I got past the modelling bit and the quizzes...but then to end with a lengthy sequence of phone number inputting Smilie Killed me off, it really did.

And you know what? I'm gutted, because I love the aesthetic and vibe of the game. I've mentioned in before, but I really enjoyed Technobabylon and other games published/developed by WadjetEye, and with this having the same stylish audio and visual appeal, I got my expectations (clearly 'too') high before diving in.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
cubed3istrash (guest) 12.02.2018#10

You're a terrible reviewer with an obviously extremely outlier opinion, and this is the only click I'll ever be giving cubed3, a site that thankfully no one cares about.

guest (guest) 18.02.2018#11

This game looks like trash, and im going to guess is about that red string of fate legend which would only make it worse.

MS (guest) 29.06.2018#12

I liked this game but 3/10 is probably right.

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