|The main screen is a bit busy but hey, so is the real Facebook right?|
- Developer: The Tiniest Shark
- Publisher: Positech Games
- Release Date: 13 November 2013
- Time played: 5 hours
I received this game as a gift from a generous Steam friend (thanks Mix-Master!) so thankfully, I didn't need to spend the $20 entry fee to experience this game. Judging by the screenshots and information I gathered before playing this game, I expected it to be a parody of Facebook set in a sci-fi setting similar to Star Trek. That's pretty much what I got although mileage may vary on whether this is a successful formula for a game.
You play the role of a Federation officer on the space station Megalodon-9. You start off as a lowly technician but can work your way up the ranks to become the Commander's Assistant. There are also many other crew aboard the station you can interact with but things only really get interesting a few days into the game when you realise something serious is going to happen in a matter of months. As the game progresses it becomes that your actual goal is to get off the station.
And that's about it, there's not really much in terms of an actual plot but I'm really rating the humour and writing style here which is hilarious. If you're a Trekkie, you'll appreciate the humour in this game even more (e.g. an achievement called "THERE...ARE...FOUR....LIKES"). There are also various references to other sci-fi franchises like Space Quest (a space-mop being the most noticeable reference) and of course Star Wars.
Above all though, the game is a parody of Facebook and you'll snicker at the various Facebook activities that are made fun of. I especially liked it when you were scolded for liking your own Spacebook status updates mentioning that it was a major faux-pas. If only some of my real life friends on Facebook would get the memo :).
The game is basically a time management game like several older Japanese PC games in the 90s and games like the Kudos series, particularly Kudos 2. You basically decide what activities you'll do each day, whether that be socialising, studying, eating or playing games on Spacebook (yes, that is sadly an option). At first, it seems pretty aimless what you're doing, one of my initial criticisms in my first look at the game. Thankfully, there does appear to be a purpose to the game (at least in Story Mode) as you'll realise later on and that gives the player a sense of urgency and purpose. So the game isn't merely just a social commentary on how shallow Facebook is or a repository of Star Trek in-jokes and puns.
Unfortunately at times you'll be asking yourself, "why am I playing this when I can just use the real thing?" (i.e. Facebook). Also, even though it does have fictional characters it could've been made more exciting by seeding actual individuals in there with different background histories to differentiate them from the milieu of cardboard cut-out aliens.
|One of the potential ways to "win" is to become the Commander's Assistant|
There's nothing particularly special about the sound effects and the computer voice, while performed perfectly well, can get rather annoying after awhile since it chimes in for almost every action in the game e.g. "You have a new Spacebook message!" or "You have a new Spacebook status update!" etc. etc. Since the whole game revolves around Spacebook, it gets old really quick. Thankfully, I believe there's an option to set the voiceover volume down if need be.
The music is pretty average. It's your standard sci-fi fare although I did notice that when occasionally doing certain actions that a little victory fanfare would play, so at least there's some effort in making the music more dynamic and reactive to the player's actions.
The graphics are rather amateurish and not just because it's a cartoon 2D style. I don't mind that at all but think it would've been better if a style adopted in Kudos 2 for example was employed instead (i.e. a more realistic, comic-book style).
It takes about 5 hours to complete the game but there are five different ways to get off the station. While I was tempted to play again there is just so many repetitive tasks that discouraged me from giving it a try. If you're one to hunt Steam achievements though, that's what you'll need to do.
The game is pretty well polished - I only encountered a couple of times where I appeared to be stuck in the menus or a certain button would not seem to work. There are occasional typos too.
Score – 6/10Redshirt has a humourous premise and it receives bonus points if you're a sci-fi/Star Trek fan, however the game doesn't really have any lasting appeal after you get over its primary goal in belittling Facebook. You might start to question why you're wasting your time playing a Facebook simulator for $20 when religiously using the real thing is available to you for free (okay, at least Redshirt probably won't provide your information to US intelligence agencies). If more time was invested in making some of the characters stand out or more believable, the game would've then at least been worth the $20 asking price.
If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.
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[LINK: Official Redshirt website]