Space, the final frontier. According to Redshirt however, we will still have the same boring lives we lead now; going to work to perform some mundane task before returning home to sift through baby photos and cute cat compilations.
Redshirt is set in a world that borrows heavily from a popular sci-fi franchise where the live expectancy of the crew that wears a certain coloured uniform is minimal at best. You play the role of a young worker on a federation space station. A rookie that lives every aspect of their life through the social media juggernaut that is Spacebook. There really are no prizes as to what Social Media platform is being spoofed in this game.
After choosing your race, gender and a number of other features using the surprisingly in-depth character creator, you are shuttled off into your first day job of Transporter Room Clean-up Technician. Don’t worry, you don’t actually have to clean anything up as your working day is a vidi-printer styled overview of your tasks and relationships with your co-workers before returning home to visit the world of Social Media once again.
Spacebook serves as the main hub for the entire game. You are given a set number of “actions” with which you can message your established friends, invite people to events, send friends requests, study to further your career, etc. You also earn credits for working which you need to carefully save or spend in order to create further events, or buy items in the shops which increase your stats.
In its simplest form, Red Shirt is a game of watching meters, making social judgements (who is likely to die on away missions) and nurturing your social media circle (start a relationship with the manager of a department and you are a shoe-in for that promotion). While this comes down to purely where you are going to use your, often limited, actions there is something about it that makes you lose an hour when you only had five minutes spare.
The real draw here is the fact that Redshirt provides instant and tangible results for every single action you take. Every character within the game is a potential friend, all of which have their own unique set of interests. Once on your friend list every invite will have either a positive or negative on these characters whether you invite them or not, often forcing you into a choice between two “friends”.
Romantic interests come and go at an unbelievable speed in Redshirt; thus far I have had two partners killed on away missions, dumped one partner to start going out with the boss to secure a promotion, dumped my boss as I had gained the promotion, been dumped cos I took my partner to a burger bar rather than a vegetarian restaurant and finally, rather annoyingly, got dumped for not taking the latest love interest out enough, although we went out on a date every single day.
Lose a partner and you will also lose a friend – there are no friendly breakups in Redshirt – which means having to establish a friendship with other characters. Different people from different species have different views and attitudes to life which is where one of the challenges lies. Some people are “species-ist” – a nod to the casually racist you no doubt find on Facebook, some are greedy, some career driven, the occasional person is prone to anger or just simply as thick as the smoke in hell. Let’s be honest every single one of you has just thought of someone on your real life Facebook friend list for each of those descriptions didn’t you?
For the sci-fi geeks amongst us, Redshirt works well. All of the text is either from somewhere in the sci-fi universe or is a pop culture reference adapted to fit into a sci-fi world. Simply put, it’s fun, it’s geeky and that’s two ticks for me.
Redshirt’s lasting appeal however is firmly fixed in two aspects. It’s social commentary and that Spacebook is exactly what Facebook would be if Mark Zuckerberg implemented a levelling system with simple goals and social manipulation….ummm… I mean interaction being your main tactic.
That’s not to say there aren’t issues. There is nothing to the away missions. Literally. Occasionally you get to choose which of your fellow crew members dies but in the main you get a still picture, one sentence about today’s danger, and a growing list as the away team meets its maker.
The other major issue is that the role of web developer has not survived through the years and the interface of Spacebook is, at times convoluted and much harder to find the information, item or person than really needs to be.
Even with this in mind Redshirt is thoroughly entertaining, with the razor sharp teeth of its satire biting through at every conceivable opportunity. The puns are enjoyable and come at you at the speed of a Leslie Nielson movie. Once you play Redshirt you won’t be able to read a status update from your “too dumb to delete” friends without being reminded of the games digs and won’t be able to resist the urge to just have a quick five minute session of Spacebook.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: PC Release Date: 13/11/13
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Redshirt for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 3 days on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.