The Red Strings Club Switch Review
A bartender and a freelance hacker find themselves entangled in the biggest corporate conspiracy of all time, and it is our job as the player to uncover the truth by mixing drinks, hacking into androids, and taking down those who want to control the entire world. In general, this is the idea of The Red Strings Club, a cyberpunk narrative set in a time where genetic modifications are incredibly common. As a quick fix for their own shortcomings, the majority of humanity is reliant on these synthetic implants created by Supercontinent Ltd, but with this sort of freedom to become your ideal self, where do you draw the line? And what happens if not everything is as it seems?
Donovan, an information broker and bartender of the Red Strings Club, questions the value of these genetic implants and is one of the rare human beings who has declined to improve himself with artificial means. Alongside him is his companion, Brandeis, a hacker who sees the benefits of the implants and has a couple of his own. One night, while the two men were hanging out in Donovan’s bar, a broken-down android finds its way inside the club and crumbles onto the ground. Recognized as the Akara-184 model from Supercontinent Ltd, an android capable of understanding human empathy, Brandeis immediately tries to connect into Akara’s memory to learn what happened to it. There, he uncovers the death and murder of a revolutionary in one of the corporation’s factories, Akara’s attempt to escape from the facility, and a scheme from Supercontinent Ltd to utilize its genetic implants to force world peace and happiness into every individual. Brandeis repairs Akara and Donovan recruits the android to become a hostess for the Red Strings Club, and the two men begin to find answers and unravel the mystery in front of them.
Keeping spoilers to a minimum, the game allows you to influence the storyline using the three characters Donovan, Brandeis, and Akara. Most of the dialogue and information-revealing happens when the player is making decisions for Donovan as he mixes drinks and asks his customers crucial questions. Brandeis gets a brief moment in the spotlight, and his part shines more towards the end of the game. Akara, as part of the Club, gives Donovan her observations of the customers after they leave, including extra information through a short quiz. These quizzes allow us as players to grasp the situation and learn more about the side characters’ personalities and intentions. If you get seven out of ten questions correct, Akara will award Donovan with a prize that can benefit the outcome of his information gathering.
What happens in the game is up to your decision-making and best judgment of a situation, which will also determine your experience of the game and how much of an ending you will get to see. A map of the storyline progressed thus far is available to view, and this will show you what you have accomplished in the game. Donovan also keeps a journal in his possession which you can access on the corner of the screen. This book keeps your goals in check and is filled with questions that the men are looking for answers for. The conversations you have and the choices you make will need to be tailored to answer Donovan’s journal in order to see as much of an ending as possible.
In the moments where you play as Donovan, you will be required to mix drinks for customers in order to get the relevant information you need out of them. To pour your alcohol into a glass is actually quite the challenge at first, but with lots of practice, nothing is impossible. You are also able to experiment before you serve your drink, so take advantage of this to practice as well. Each customer that comes in has emotions you can “exploit”, and different spirits have different effects. Depending on which emotion you want your customer to be in, the information they share will be revealed in different ways. In the middle of a conversation, you will be given choices on what you would like to say and what questions you would like to ask. You are also able to choose to create another drink for them to switch up their emotional state to get more information.
Another minigame you will get to play is with Akara. At the beginning of the story when Brandeis is exploring Akara’s memories, you are able to learn about where the android came from and its original purpose of creating implants for human beings. In this part of the story, you learn how to craft implants by using three tools – one with a curved edge, one with a square edge, and one with a sharp edge. Using the controller stick on the Joy-Con, you move Akara’s hand and mold the implant into its desired shape. This minigame can be quite relaxing and there is an undo button for mistakes. One downside is the limitation of the screen because once you go beyond a certain point, a pointing cursor will show up instead and Akara’s hand will slip. This can happen often especially if you are close to the bottom, so you need not only some practice but patience as well.
Coupled with great music and smart dialogue, The Red Strings Club touches on tough subjects on the importance of sadness and human flaws. The soundtrack ranges from relaxing to chilling, capturing the game’s moments in the most fitting way. Its calming sound effects also incidentally puts me at ease when I am mixing drinks, making decisions, and asking my customers questions. There are moments of the game which agitated me – for instance, when I was making an implant and Akara’s hand goes AWOL, but the background music playing during that minigame was too catchy for me end it halfway.
The Red Strings Club is a masterpiece that introduces a creative plot with resourceful protagonists and a marvelous narrative. It presents a conspiracy with many layers that you may not get to see if you do not ask certain questions, and being able to reveal different scenarios out of a vast number of possibilities is an incredible feat. While there are points of improvement that can make the game run a little smoother, the game is undeniably charming with its memorable characters and remarkable story. The Red Strings Club is a meaningful journey for mature audiences that can teach us a thing or two about morals. It is a game with lessons to be learned and stories to be shared, as we too have important decisions to make in our own lives.
*** A Switch code was provided by the publisher ***
- An intricate and meaningful plot
- Creative storytelling based on your choices
- Difficult to control movement in minigames