Redshirt: Expendable characters. Usually say one line or less before being killed in a plot-convenient manner. Most often seen in classic 60’s Star Trek. (Urban Dictionary)
One of the recurring thematic elements of Science Fiction modeled after Star Trek is that there is a place for everyone in the future. Stories however are generally told from the perspective of the heroes, the villains, and the movers and shakers of its universe. What about the lowly Astrophysics Technician, or the guy who cleans up the Holodeck after the Captain is done playing ‘detective’? Where’s that person’s story? Well, developer Positech answers that question with its new life simulator, Redshirt.
The central conceit of Redshirt is that you begin as a lowly member of a starship crew. Being a new member of the team, not to mention alone out in space, you naturally gravitate to social media; Spacebook, to be specific. The majority of the game is played on here as you manage friendships, relationships, and feuds as you climb the ranks to become a leading member of the crew. Along the way, you participate in away missions which (for me anyway) always end catastrophically.
Redshirt is essentially a turn-based strategy game. In it, you have a set number of turns in order to do various tasks through the Spacebook interface, such as form relationships, improve your quality of life, or go out with friends. This game is extremely open-ended in that you can choose not only your species and gender, but relationship preferences as well. While society is at the point where we really shouldn’t have to be praising games for allowing you to create a character with fluid sexual preferences, I applaud the developer’s approach of just going for it and allowing you to build a complete character as you see fit.
The first part of this game is literally just Facebook but with a science fiction sheen on it. Depending on who you are, that can be a positive or negative attribute. While a lot of this section can be very tedious and feel like work, it is well put together in that it tickles that part of your brain; the ‘just one more turn’ section that we all know from playing Civilization. It’s addicting, albeit not terribly engaging…until I go on an away mission and my whole world changes instantly.
The road to a command postion aboard your ship is a rocky one, and it’s not without a number of personal sacrifices. Life and relationships on Spacebook, and in space, can be volatile to say the least. The high-stress situations lead to a lot of hastily formed relationships with other crewmembers. In my playthrough, I was up for anything, but it wasn’t long before harsh realities crept in. Two of my boyfriends died in front of me during away missions, and a girlfriend dumped me by running off with an alien ambassador. On top of that, I have to deal with Helena Hartung badmouthing me on Spacebook because I got a promotion over her, even though I was completely qualified for the job.
As you can see, relationships can be every bit as complicated in Redshirt as they are in real life.
To its credit, Redshirt does a very good job of approximating the different types of people you encounter on social media, such as oversharers, racists, frenemies, and complainers. Along with that, you need to consider the implications of each decision you made. In one case I submitted a Friend Request to a potential boss for the next tier of jobs. That person accepted because we had enough attributes in common, but I lost points from many of my existing friends because they perceived I was being overambitious and trying to get ahead (which, to be fair, I was). This is in some ways a tough title to review, because when you get right down to it this is pretty much a gamified version of Facebook, and I’m not sure that’s enough to sustain an entire game, especially one selling for $20.
I have to admit, as much as the idea of playing this game for a long stretch of time horrifies me I had some fun with it. As a life-management sim, Redshirt is pretty robust and led me into some challenging life choices about how to go about my relationships. My tale may end up being markedly different from yours, and to be honest I hope yours isn’t as fraught with damaged friendships and memories of ex-boyfriends lost to the darkness of space. If only there were more varied content to justify its cost.
[+Funny and knowing Star Trek parody] [+Decent Management Sim] [+Endless character options] [-It’s literally Facebook: The Game] [-Very grindy and repetitive] [-Overpriced at $20]