Space may indeed by the final frontier, but if Redshirt is correct, even at its furthest reaches, we’ll still be living the same miserable, boring lives we have now. In the game, you play as one of the thousands of new recruits on a space station in the far reaches of the galaxy. Your goal is to get off the station and get a less dangerous shirt color by any means necessary.
The game’s general premise will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played a life simulation game before, whether it be the various flash games online or the non-dungeon crawling sections of the recent Persona games. With a set number of time units per day, you must plan a path that will lead to the best possible character and victory within the time limit.
There is a certain cynical charm to the game. Most of the jobs and scenarios that are present are ones that never really occurred to you before, but once you see it, it’s clear that someone on the Enterprise surely had to do it. The less-than-riveting selection helps to remind us that the important people you see on your favorite Sci-Fi series had to pass through a lot of terrible jobs to get where they are.
Unfortunately, the game just doesn’t have a lot to offer beyond the “cynical Science Fiction” feel to it. For starters, the game is far too easy and short. Playing on the default settings, I was able to win with over a month of game time left, which is a sizable chunk when you get less than half a year to start with. I also never died, in spite of the dozen or so away team missions that I was sent on. While not every game needs to be challenging, a game about the trials and tribulations of the barely-seen extras seems like it should probably let you die once in a while. Instead, I came away feeling more like part of the invincible bridge staff while the rest of the crew met their makers. To the game’s credit, it does offer sliders for various aspects, but you can’t adjust the survivability of these missions, only their frequency.
The away missions themselves underscore another issue. There’s nothing to them. Aside from the rare chance to choose which of your fellow crew members you want to die, all you get is a still image and a quick one-sentence description of the danger of the week as it lists the day’s casualties. If you had any say in what you do, the illusion of danger could still be there.
The other major issue the game has is with the interface. The entire game is filtered through the not-at-all-copyright-infringing “Spacebook” social media site. It would seem that website design is an underdeveloped skill in the future, as getting around is far more frustrating than it should be. Good luck trying to host an event. Finding the people you actually want to invite through the non-sortable list of every character you’ve ever met is more than a little aggravating. People post all sorts of trivial status updates regularly, which is certainly true to life but makes finding the information you’re looking for frustrating.
In the end, Redshirt is a charming little game that will make every Sci-Fi fan smile in understanding. Once the jokes and nostalgia glow wear off, however, there’s just not a lot left to keep you playing. Keep an eye on it for when it goes on sale, but for now it’s not worth the asking price.