It’s quite apparent that at this very moment, the world in which we inhabit is in a crisis. This isn’t just a crisis pertaining to war or poverty but more so on the psychological battlefield. Much of this issue is attributed to the fact that we’re now living in the information era, one in which there’s just too much to absorb and our brains become oversaturated with unnecessary data. We become blind to the truth and often find ourselves entangled in the many traps corporations set for us to walk in. Can we truly blame them? Or perhaps it is the individual who should be accounted for? The Red Strings Club is a game that questions your moral intent, your belief system and overall awareness of what’s actually happening in society. In a way, The Red Strings Club is a visual novel that’s compelling in that, it’s telling us a story which in fact is a direct representation of our current social climate, and the psychological issues that we all deal with on a daily basis. It’s nevertheless a game but it strikes a chord in your mind as you play through the story, picking apart every investigation and having to determine whether the information given to you is of clout, or just another scheme to further deter you from the truth.
What to Expect
The Red Strings Club speaks about mature themes, but these very themes are the ones in which many of us grow fearful of the minute they reach our lips. Politics, corruption, and prejudice among many others. This all takes place in a cyberpunk world perhaps not too far from the current situation we all live in and places heavy emphasis on a strong narrative that pokes fun at the ignorance of society, and how many seem to follow the sheep mentality in order to avoid breaking the status quo.
What to expect? Expect there to be a lot of thought provoking scenarios where you’ll need to determine whether the person you’re investigating is a total fraud, or if they’re truly holding up to their word. You play as bartender Donovan as he systematically breaks down the mind of the individual using persuasive tactics to generate pivotal information about a corporate conspiracy, which will help to bring justice to a world filled with deceit and brainwashing. Let’s dive deeper into the gameplay and emphasize just why The Red Strings Club is such an incredible title, and why you definitely need to play it many times to see the underlying truths that are presented to you.
Right off the bat, you’re thrown into a world that feels all too real. A society burdened by corrupt corporate politics and the majority are reeled in by its deceitful ways, which only creates a mountain of issues. Donovan, his android assistant along with his freelance hacker partner are pitted against this big corporation known as Supercontinent Ltd., who are on the verge of releasing a product that is supposed to eradicate feelings of depression, anger and fear from society altogether. What this essentially means is that the company is planning to create some form of utopia in which everybody behaves the same, and in the end, creates a peaceful environment. However Donovan thinks that it’s all rubbish and this scheme is just another corporate tactic to undermine the human psyche and brainwash society into believing that such an environment would prove worthy. Much of the gameplay revolves around you reading dialogue between Donovan and those surrounding him, using his bartending tactics to reveal flaws in clients explanations and generating more clarity as to what’s really happening within Supercontinent Ltd.
Every dialogue provides you with an eerie reminder of just how cruel our society can be, and why we need to extremely mindful of the information we take in. It speaks about the impurities of the human agenda and how big corporations try to paint a pretty picture to generate a form of security, when in reality it’s all just a plot to steal your freedom and manipulate the mind into conformity. Many people in our society wear a mask and can never truly tell whether they’re actually who they think they are, of if they’re just a mould that society created for them. This is where things get weird and is where Red Strings Club tries to dig into, not to scare you but rather to inform you that not everything that the eyes can see is truly real. As you serve certain beverages to clients and obtain a great deal of information, your android partner plays a small mini game with you to see just how well you were paying attention to the details, and if you managed to score high, she provides you with rewards to help gather information more accurately. Some of these gifts include a short-term capsule which essentially erases the mind of the client to a certain time, allowing you to dig deeper into their psyche without generating a negative response from questions earlier.
It’s very interesting and becomes a somewhat strategic approach because overusing your rewards can often generate little leads, so it becomes a balancing act of knowing when to administer the drugs and when to just keep the conversation flowing. You also get to know each character exceptionally well and can see their own flaws as well, for example Diana Neves, one of the clients you work with, is very adamant that the Social Psyche Welfare system will prove worthy, noting that if everyone’s at peace then there’ll be less concern in the world. Donovan is more of the pessimist in this regard as he feels that emotions play a very big role in the evolution of humanity, and that jeopardizing that natural tendency would only invoke more problems than solutions. This back and forth of philosophical dialogue is what truly makes The Red Strings Club such a thrilling ordeal, because it provides you with two sides of the same coin and it creates a beautiful synchronicity in a way.
“Reminds us of the movie Ghost”
Shakespeare had said that there’s no such thing as good or bad, only thinking makes it so and yet, Donovan claims that without duality in the world, there would be no balance. So while you constantly play through the game, it really stimulates your brain and makes you question a lot of things not just about the game, but the overall integrity of those ruling our society. Are what they’re feeding us really benefitting, or is it just another tactic to desensitize us even further and create this need for social acceptance? Our emotions are not toys and yet for most corporations, most notably Supercontinent Ltd., their mission is to toy with the minds of the people and create implants that will restrict certain natural human behaviors. The subject-matter is certainly a controversial one, but is it really? Perhaps what we think is controversial is actually pointing us in the right direction but because we allow the powers that be to dictate our emotional state of mind, we grow fearful of change and instead, we alienate the truth. The deeper you continue to dive into The Red Strings Club, the more thought provoking things become and the plot thickens heavily, unveiling some pretty surprising details that even made us scratch our heads.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Ultimately, The Red Strings Club focuses on issues that many of us would avoid and that’s what makes playing it so endearing. The relationships you create with clients and the ways in which you use persuasion to lead them into spilling the beans is quite fascinating and perhaps a bit over the top, but in the end, it paints a very vivid picture of just what can happen if we aren’t careful. Information can be vital but it can also be a detriment depending on where you look, and so being extremely careful about the directions you take is just as important as the information itself. The visual novel approach to the gameplay creates a nice relaxing pace, allowing you to really think through your decisions and decipher clues more effectively. The lack of voice acting surprisingly doesn’t take away from the experience. In fact, it provides more to it because as you read the dialogue, you can create your own flow in the mind. You learn about human expression, dealing with depression and anxiety among other things, and piece these all together to create a remarkably enthralling experience.
Brilliantly written dialogue with powerful themes and philosophical anecdotes.
Simple visuals but incredibly compelling gameplay experience.
The visual novel appeal really adds more emotional depth.
Moulding modules reminded us of Patrick Swayze in Ghost.
The themes explored within the game may not be suitable for everyone.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We had an absolute blast with The Red Strings Club and truly wish more titles like this would release more often. Often times, we allow ourselves to get to caught up in the social media landscape and create this pitfall of despair. Perhaps it’s nice every once in a while to just take a break from it all, sit back and meditate for a minute and really think about what’s actually happening around us. Like Diana stated in her conversation with Donovan:
“Art is emotion through the filter of calm focus.”
Perhaps we all need to just filter out all the nonsense and start questioning things around us so that our minds can create a clearer picture of just what’s happening in the world. Maybe then will we be able to truly express ourselves artistically without the need of a mask.
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!