Friday, April 15, 2016

Redshirt - 2/20 hours

The main thing I'm learning from Redshirt so far is that social media is an emotional minefield, where relationships can ebb and surge without warning and where the slightest misstep can have ramifications not only in one's personal life, but in their professional life as well.

Maybe that's accurate? I've never actually used social media in that way, but through cultural osmosis, I've been able to gather that some people take it very seriously (although perhaps that's just a fictional conceit). It's kind of fun, in the way that video-game sociopathy often can be, but I certainly wouldn't want to live through it.

While I'm pretty sure "Facebook Drama Simulator" is a compelling enough idea to stand on its own, Redshirt also has the advantage of being a platform for some fun Star Trek references. Most of it is pretty broad, but I've noticed a couple of shout outs to some specific episodes that convince me the makers are genuine fans of the show (I'm guessing TNG is probably their touchstone, but then again, maybe it just seems that way because it is mine).

There was this pretty great episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Lower Decks" and at its best, Redshirt is like playing a time-management visual novel based on that episode. At its worst, Redshirt is like playing a time-management visual novel based on randomly generated science fiction cliches. So far, it's averaging out to a pretty fun and subtly addictive game experience, but I am seriously worried about the game's longevity. I'm already seeing repeats of various NPC statuses and combined with the fact that the personality simulation seems like it must be pretty shallow, is going to give characters a kind of "samey" feel to them.

It's like, there's this guy who I have a history with - we used to date and then he dumped me for a gelatinous alien creature and shortly afterwards, the creature started taunting me viciously about how it hated me . . . and it would be nice if that sort of emergent story had details which gave it a sense of specificity. At the time it was very memorable, because I wasn't at all expecting it, but the more of the game I play, the more it just seems like an inevitable consequence of the RNG.

I'm pretty sure I have at least 4 or 5 hours left to go with my current character (assuming Jo Spaceman doesn't meet a sudden and ignominious end on an Away Mission, that is), and seeing as how there are five possible endings, I'm not worried about making the deadline. However, it's also possible that two hours in and I've already seen the bulk of what the game has to offer. There does seem to be an overarching plot about a mysterious and deadly Federation mission, and that promises to be pretty interesting, but it is going to be the small details that make or break this game.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go trashtalk a space-jellyfish.

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