Video games are at their best when they make you feel empowered, which is probably why first-person shooters are so popular. After all, the violent projection of force is the fastest shortcut to that sweet, sweet feeling of strength. That’s not the only path to an adrenaline rush, and Redshirt is a perfect example of that.
The best way to describe Redshirt is as a simplified, sci-fi, turn-based version of The Sims. You take the role of a lowly recruit on the space station Megalodon 9, who must work his way up the social hierarchy in order to acquire a ticket off the troubled space station in 180 days. Why the time limit? And why do you need to get off the station? There are answers to those questions, but Positech Games is keeping them secret, for now.
There are a couple ways to increase your social standing in Redshirt. The first is to simply get a better job. There are dozens you can fill—from cleaning up after teleporter accidents and painting hulls to various skilled, technical and administrative positions—as long as you have the proper skills. Your first promotion, for example, can be acquired once you’ve built up your Zero-G Aerobics to level 1, and your Speedy Cover Ups to level 2. Improving your skills is a relatively straightforward process of working and taking training courses in your spare time. As you get better and better jobs, your social standing will rise, but this is a slow and time-consuming process.
The second way to increase your social standing is to have lots of friends. As you increase your friend count and build up certain social-related skills, your Charisma score will go up, and your social ranking with it. This allows you to access new opportunities and meet influential people, but you have to be careful, because your Charisma can go down as well. To prevent this, you need to ensure you stay on good terms with everyone in your friends list, which is easier said than done.
Managing your social life is handled through a fictional network called Spacebook. It works like a simplified version of Facebook, complete with likes, status updates, creeping, trolling, and private messages. You can see what your friends are up to, how much they like you, find new people to add to your network, and arrange social events. You can only perform a limited number of actions each day, however, so you have to choose what you do very carefully. Liking a status update might be a good way to improve your relationship with one particular person, but that takes up a valuable action point. Different events require different amounts of action points, so there’s never enough time to do everything, and that means making hard choices about which friendships you want to pursue, and which you are willing to let slide.
You have to be aware of all sorts of social landmines as well. Invite someone to an event they won’t enjoy—say, for example, you invite a person to play Zero-G Golf, but they’re not into Fitness Lifestyle—your standing with them will decrease. On the other hand, if you don’t invite them, they may feel neglected. Make a new friend, and the people who hate that person will hate you. Get a promotion, and your former coworkers will get jealous. These are just some of what I encountered during my playtime. No doubt there are others.
Being aware of, and managing, all these social issues is important. If you’re on good terms with, say, the hiring manager for a certain job, you may be able to get that job even if you don’t have the necessary skills. This is where I got my first hit of empowerment. I entered into a romantic relationship with the hiring manager of a job I wanted, then applied for the position, even though I had none of the qualifications. To my surprise, I got it, simply because I was sleeping with the boss! After that, I found myself in a cycle of preying on hiring managers. I’d become friends with whomever was in charge of the job I wanted, woo them, and then—BAM—get the job. Before I knew it, I was in a Rank 4 job without even trying. The endorphin rush from accomplishing this was equivalent to any protracted virtual-murder session I’ve ever engaged in.
Conclusion – Is It Worth The Money?
Sadly, I don’t know if my sleep-your-way-to-the-top strategy will actually pay off in the end. Redshirt isn’t complete yet, so I couldn’t progress all the way through. I’ve enjoyed what I got to play immensely, though, and can’t wait for the final product. The game’s currently available for the pre-order price of $20, and I’m going to tell you right now, even in its unfinished state, it is very much worth every penny.
- Time Played—4 Hours
- Widescreen Support—No, black bars on sides
- Resolution Played—2560×1440, Full screen
- Windowed Mode—Yes
- FOV Slider—Not Applicable
- 5.1 Audio Support—No
- Bugs/Crashes Encountered—None
- Control Scheme—Mouse
- System Specs—Core firstname.lastname@example.orgGHz, 8GB RAM, Radeon HD 6770M 512MB
- Game Acquisition Method—Preview Copy
- Availability—Official Site
- Demo—No. Pre-ordering gains you access to the beta