There is a legend that says people who are destined to meet one another are bound by the red string of fate. It is a concept that comes up in anime and manga. The Red Strings Club relies upon it as a theme and something of a gameplay mechanic. In this adventure game, everyone is connected. One of our main characters, Donovan, exploits this to aid in his work as an information broker. His boyfriend, Brandeis, uses these connections to help him when engaging in hacking. As we play, we constantly see how people influence one another and the impact actions have on their lives.
When The Red Strings Club begins, only three people are in our lives. One is Donovan, the bartender of the titular club. Brandeis is his boyfriend, a hacker who appears playing piano in the introduction. The final piece in this puzzle is Akara, an Android with an advanced AI capable of actual emotions. Akara stumbles into the club in shambles, apropos of apparently nothing. But as the game goes on and we learn more about each of these characters, we see the destiny they share. It is easy to understand how these three are linked and see the relationships between them. Especially when it comes to the budding friendship between Donovan and Akara.
Things get interesting once The Red Strings Club gets regular visitors. Donovan isn’t just pumping them for information so he can learn more about Supercontinent’s CEO, the Social Psyche Welfare project, Mirror Neuron Algorithm and Akara. He’s learning how people relate to one another and using this information to move forward. Diana comes in first to talk to Donovan and ask a favor. She’s immediately followed by Supercontinent’s lawyer, a woman following her because she sees Diana as a threat. Through the lawyer, we begin to learn about the new CEO and Johanna, a COO with behavior that has changed due to actions the player makes in the first half hour of the game. When Larissa, a PR mastermind for the company, comes in, it ends up leading to the Akara scientist eventually appearing.
What we know about these people from talking to one another helps us shape our investigations in The Red Strings Club. Everyone has their own specialized field, but these often tie in to at least one other person’s life. The right questions help you get the right answers from someone else later. Things are always coming together, and the game is happy to remind you when something important happens by providing a prompt. When you learn who the creator of the Akara androids is by talking to Diana, it lets you know. When the lawyer lets slip the name of the CEO, you gain the ability to start asking others about this person.
What I especially appreciated is the hints of the supernatural in The Red Strings Club. Donovan actually conjures up us as a spirit to help him make his cocktails for people. There is a patron, whose identity I don’t want to spoil, that is always rather otherworldly and has a way of impacting the game with its aid. In a virtual world where we see people with technological implants and an incredibly advanced android manning the club’s door, it is reassuring to know there is still some magic in this sort of world. You may say there is still a ghost in the machine.
We all know that people you wouldn’t expect to be connected can somehow be tied to one another. We also know that one action could have a major impact, one greater that we realize. Pulling at a thread could cause a whole sweater to unravel. The Red Strings Club is an adventure game that lets us see these concepts in action. We see how important the conversations Donovan has are. The actions taken by characters have an impact on people long after they happen. It is great to see how these red strings are tied and pull on them to make things happen.
The Red Strings Club is available for PCs.