Thursday, April 21, 2016

Redshirt - 20/20 hours

This was a difficult game to search for on the internet. In addition to being a small indie game, "Redshirt" is also a commonly used piece of slang. So I never learned the function of mastering a job (aside from opening up the next rank of employment, but then you can master more than one job per rank or the jobs of the final ranks). It also made the additional victory conditions a little hard to figure out (romance someone, but who - befriend powerful people, but which ones). I wound up winning again, but by the same method I used the first time.

My final opinion about Redshirt is that it's very clever. This is both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that it offers a novel experience, one completely unlike anything else I've ever played. The weakness is that once you get past the cleverness, that's all there is. I'm glad I played this game, because it broadened my horizons, but even though I still have almost a dozen achievements left to unlock, I don't feel like I have any unfinished business with Redshirt.

It's pretty neat that we live in a time when such purely conceptual games as Redshirt can exist. There's a part of me that wishes I could find the "perfect" video game - the one which allow the virtual me to do everything the real me is interested in. But if I start to think about how one would actually go about creating such a game, it becomes clear that it would be an unwarranted extravagance. You'd basically have to pile game on top of game and compress them into some unholy chimera, with the result that every individual aspect would be subpar (or prohibitively expensive) on its own.

That's the advantage of gaming's current creative explosion. You may not be able to get everything in one neat little package, but small, specialized games can offer incredible diversity, well-implemented, and at reasonable prices. Redshirt is probably not the last word in simulated social-media games - there's a lot more that can be done with characterization and setting - but it is a fine place to start.

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