It was honestly just a matter of time before someone utilized and marketed the redshirt concept in a video game. In case you’ve been living under a rock (or just really, really HATE “Star Trek”), a redshirt is a title given to a no-named Ensign who usually accompanies Captain Kirk on an away mission. There’s also a seventy-five percent chance that said redshirt won’t be coming back…perhaps Gene Roddenberry hated the color red, who’s to say? At any rate, “Redshirt”, a comedy sci-fi “Facebook” simulator of sorts, recently made its way onto the market and I’m here to take a final look at how it stacks up in the grand scheme of things. Before we set our phasers to “Like”, I want to quickly thank Cliff Harris from Positech Games for providing me with a free press copy.
Editor’s Note: While the game is presently designed for the PC and Mac, I’m told that Linux and iPad versions are in the works.
As you may have gathered from the opening paragraph, the game partially resembles a “Facebook” simulator. In-game, you’ll be navigating what has been dubbed “Spacebook” and be interacting with other NPCs in the game. You’ll be able to “Like” their status, create events & invite others to join you, and more. To sum up the back story, you start off as a low-ranking peon (hence the title) assigned to a space station and must advance both professionally & socially in an effort to achieve your ultimate dream. While doing this, various conflicts will arise that will test your skills, such as they are. You’ll find out within the first five minutes of playing that there is a ticking clock and that “something” will happen in 160 days…I’ll opt to say no more than this so as to keep things spoiler-free.
Now, I’ve played my share of social media games mind you. I’ve shared coins, plowed land, spent energy, gifted rainbow cows…I eventually had to give myself a “Facebook” intervention and block all those apps as they were simply taking over my life. I knew I had gone too far when the dog from the “Zynga” logo menacingly approached me in my dreams and droned “resistance is futile”. With that being said, “Redshirt” is one social media simulator I can get behind…not because of its addicting qualities (though that does play a part), but because of the sci-fi humor that comes along with it.
Just to give you an example, the races that you’ll be able to choose from in the character creation screen resemble those found in “Star Trek” a bit. The Rigellian race is colored green by default, which is a nod to the Orions. The Geldar have pointed ears, giving them the characteristics of a Vulcan. The Xx’th’xx (don’t even bother trying to pronounce that), on the other hand, look a little like the aliens from the Simpsons who are ironically labeled as Rigellians. The station itself is constantly referencing something all the while insulting you, or at least, the fact that you are a nobody. One of your aspirations (special life goals that reward you with various things) is titled “There are FOUR Likes”…a nod to the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode “Chain of Command”. It’s the little things like this that gets my inner-geek going.
The interface, once you get the ball rolling, can be a bit overwhelming at first. The game doesn’t pull any punches and throws a lot at you, all at once. Luckily, the ticking clock in the game only passes when you perform an action and doesn’t progress in real-time. This will give you some time to navigate the menus to see what’s what. In addition to liking statuses and creating your own, you can send private messages, create events, buy items with credits, view your position on the corporate ladder and even apply for a new job, view personal logs and stats, and more. The only other screen I saw was when my character went on an away mission, but I wasn’t really able to interact with it. I just watched as my friends got killed off one by one, which then affected my character’s happiness level. At the same time, these away missions are a good way to get characters who loathe you off your back.
Speaking of a ticking clock, the game is broken up into days and you’ll only be allowed to perform so many actions from day to day. The game does observe a weekly cycle in that you’ll be working some days of the week and be free other days. The details of which depends on your job in question, as you’ll be climbing the corporate ladder in order to earn both fame and credits to help complete your day to day tasks. Once you’ve used up your action points for the day performing various tasks, you’ll sleep and awaken the next day refreshed and ready to go. The career ladder kept me focused, and I liked having the ability to click on a job down the tree to see what the pre-requisite skills were. Clicking on a skill I didn’t have opened up a list of activities I could perform to boost that skill, whether it be parties, classes, or an object from the S.H.O.P.
While landing a good job is important, forming social relationships and keeping them will be a challenge in itself. As a result, I never found myself to be bored despite the repetitive nature of the game. I was constantly looking at stats, performing actions, and rechecking said stats to see if I could advance in a particular way. As such, this game will not appeal to everyone. There are those that get their kicks via the action genre, while there are others who only enjoy playing real-time strategy games…there’s no right or wrong here. If you’re not a fan of the simulator genre in general and can’t stand games based mainly around statistics and text, then this game may not be for you.
With that said, I found “Redshirt” to be a lot of fun to play. It combines sci-fi humor and the concept of personal growth simulators in just the right ways. The price does give me some pause, however…I think $19.99 may be pushing it a bit. Keep in mind that we all value things differently, so some of you may not mind spending twenty bucks on a simulator such as this. Despite the price tag, I think it deserves some credit for being unique and original, not to mention clever and funny. All in all, it’s a game I wouldn’t mind coming back to every now and again, mainly just to see how far I can get before I’m flushed down the galactic toilet.
Final Verdict: 8/10