The Red Strings Club is a bartending visual novel released by Deconstructeam in 2018.
If you’re a person that has had experience with alcoholic drinks, you’d notice that different drinks have different effects on you overtime in the same way being wine drunk doesn’t exactly make you want to keel over and puke out your insides. (Oof, that’s a little too graphic.) The Red Strings Club explores “feeling-bending” bartending skills; bringing out the different sides of a person and learning different kinds of information with emotion targeted drinks.
Delving deep into the whys of the world, you play as a bartender and part-information broker. The Red Strings questions the most basic social issues brought about by technological innovation.
The Red Strings Club is set in the far future, with the presence of robots that are capable of understanding human emotion: an empathetic android. These droids serve to bestow psychological implants based on the requests of customers and clients — crafting these implants with the use of pottery that can range from an implant helping you become more noticeable and increase your follower count to not caring about what others think of you.
Similar to other visual novels, this game branches through different paths depending on each thing you choose to say. The difference is that it simulates real life — meaning if you make a mistake, you can’t load your (auto)save. Although it’s not so much of a problem until after you’ve replayed the game enough times just to finish off its Steam achievements (well, that’s what I
obsessed with did).
It’s honestly so interwoven that I was kind of boggled as to how the developers pulled it off. It was genuinely entertaining to explore different story routes as the game tackles topics on universally relatable things such as morals, and how you sincerely believe the world should be: a perfect but allegedly mindless utopia, or leave people as they should be, to learn things on their own?
Gameplay + Art
Pixel art is, as I’ve mentioned before, my most favorite kind of art. As this is a visual novel. compared to most others, you have The Red Strings Club showing seamlessly animated pixel scenes with the neon light/bar aesthetic. The color scheme is actually very calming as well with nicely placed accents keeping the vibe from becoming too bland. It really helps it to stick to its cyberpunk theme.
With other cyberpunk bartending games like VA-11 Hall-A, The Red Strings Club surprises by also including an interactive mini-game aspect such as mixing drinks and even pottery. Rather than filling up bars by pressing buttons, you pour the drinks into your shaker and mix them yourself.
It really gives you the feel of actually being a bartender/information broker by allowing you to mix your drinks.
The game’s soundtrack is very complex and fitting for its theme. I truly enjoyed the experience it as it really helped complement the art and enhance the atmosphere. Sometimes the mystery in the tracks scared me more than needed, however I am a scaredy-cat so let me know if you tried the game and felt the same way. 😅
Throw in a little jazz and I’m sold, although personally the music can only really be enjoyed with the game rather than alone, but I have kept it playing in the background while doing other things.
Chancing upon the game’s cover art, I was instantly intrigued. I wanted it as soon as I saw it and looking through the game’s description and teasers, I literally sold my hard-earned/bought Steam trading cards just to buy it. I was freaking out at almost everything and the game truly did not disappoint. Not to mention the fact that it had everything I liked and was interested-in in it, completely sold me. I can’t recall how many times I played the game just to acquire all the Steam achievements (though I gave up – recall that you cannot save mid-game to change your served drink or answer).
It’s around a 5-hour playthrough and may be best for players aged 15+. I still lost sleep playing it because I just loved playing this game so much.
Rating: 10 / 10
***This game contains pixel nudity and violence/gore.
This game is available in many languages and can only be played on Windows/Mac/Linux.