So at this point, I’m going to assume indie games with a chill cyberpunk bar setting that has drink mixing mini-games is going to become its own niche genre. VA-11 HALL-A was the best of that genre, but I guess we can assume the 2nd topper for it would be The Red Strings Club.
The Red Strings Club is an interactive indie title where you play as a bartender named Donovan and occasionally his favorite customer, best friend, and possible gay lover, Brandeis, as you go through the story of a corporate empire wanted to change the world for the better, which in short takes away their ability to think for themselves. First thing I took note of was the games pretty good sprite art. I always hear people call sprite art lazy, but it always feels more stylistic in a simplified way. Besides, 3D isn't always good. Remember Mass Effect: Andromeda? Yeah, I’ll take pixel art over that any day of the week. So the game actually gives you a ton of variety in what you can do. Most of the game will be spent as Donovan as he serves drinks to get a person in the right mood to ask the right questions, and Brandeis will try to expose the company from talking with others and sabotage. Brandeis has a lot more variety, but you never get much time with him until the last puzzle of the game which I will get to later. With Donovan, it’s very samey, but it feels so much more laid back and chill and the variety of attendants that show up makes me prefer the bar setting more, honestly.
That said, some of the best moments come from Brandeis’ side of the story. One of the most suspenseful parts is when he runs into a person whose mind set was changed, only to realize the wrong she did working for the company and plans to kill herself. Here, Brandeis has to try and talk her out of it, and you can feel every second pass by with the beautiful scenery and calm music all clashing with this serious moment. The game can also get really complicated with the puzzles, in a good way. The drink mixing gets a lot tougher later on as you get new drinks that can change the flow of the emotions. And the final part of the game, where you play as Brandeis as you have to use his voice changing modules to try and unlock a code in the company office is tough as hell. This is a part that I can see stumping a whole lot of people and being a speedrun killer. The insane level of confusion mixed with some decent puzzles took almost an hour. Even if you know what you’re doing, it could still take half an hour. And it all leads to an ending twist that is so strange and mind screwing yet so out of nowhere that I can’t tell if it is one big ass pull or is actually ingenious.
I am aware that this review is much shorter than say any other review I’ve made, but that’s because I don’t want to spoil any parts of the game than I have to. It’s more fun to go into The Red Strings Club completely blind and to experience the sheer insanity of the world and the story and to get fully drawn into the world. It’s one of the more interesting interactive point and click indie games out there and one that I recommend to anyone who wants a more slow paced cyberpunk title
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