Facebook has been a popular entity for so long now, becoming a part of our everyday lives. From teenagers to the elderly, Facebook is used to talk about whatever comes to mind, making connections with old high school friends or coworkers before blocking them for whatever reason. Facebook has games too! It was only a matter of time before a game was released based on the general idea of Facebook's social aspects and making acquaintances. Redshirt is a game developed by Tiniest Shark where the entirety of the action happens through a fake Facebook page aptly named Spacebook. Making connections, starting relationships, and alienating others while the player figures out a way to escape Megalodon-9 before something horrible happens. It manages to be intriguing and addicting when it decides to work, emphasis on the latter.
Redshirt game is incredibly interesting as you attempt to make friends with the right people without causing those that don't yet matter to hate your guts. You'll start at the bottom of the spacestation ladder as a janitor who has aspirations of becoming a glorified personal assistant. Never really meeting the bridge staff and captains of the station, the player must talk and work their way up. Status is everything in Redshirt, people refuse to associate with you if the job isn't important enough, and some decide to hate you depending on how fickle they are. The proper way to do things? Expanding your skill set, being relatively pleasant to others, and maintaining a healthy attitude all through the hub of Spacebook.
The layout of Spacebook, while a novel idea for a game, can be confusing to navigate. All too often I found myself lost in the endless menus shoved into my face. Ensuring the right skill is trained and even navigating back to the main page of Spacebook is cumbersome, with character social webs and skill requirements being locked away in specific menus that require another menu to access.
The whole point of the game is to talk to others, go to work and socialize afterward. Socialization can be easier or harder thanks to the malleable difficulty settings before launching into a game. Malleable in the sense that the player can choose how racist crew members can be or how many messages they send to the Spacebook main page and to your character. It feels like every single scenario can be tinkered with in order to tailor a perfect mode for just about any person picking up the game, an incredibly smart decision by Tiniest Shark.
Throughout most of the game, repeating dialogue isn't that much of an issue depending on what settings are chosen before starting. Front page wall posts are varied and offer colorful and sometimes witty comments poking fun at Sci-Fi tropes or the state of affairs in their own lives inside the station. The one time when repeating dialogue becomes a massive problem is in the messaging portion of Redshirt, where the player sends a personal message to another character to either berate, praise, or flirt with them. The game at the most gives you three options for every line you're able to send, considering how often other players would like you to message them it becomes tedious quickly. The humor is more hit than miss, I appreciate self-awareness and the deliberately atrocious interactions and flirts with others. The charm can wear thin as time goes on, it's not the sort of game that one should dump much time into in one sitting.
The only time when the player isn't in front of Spacebook is when they and others are picked for away missions. Sent to various planets where something always goes wrong, people can die. Not so much the player, as it's incredibly easy to maintain good spirits and health that the away missions are never a direct threat, though they can cause significant others, best friends, or even bosses to die. The away missions throw wrenches into the potential plans of the player depending on who dies, running the risk of having someone that dislikes the player gaining a promotion or having their attitude drained beyond repair.
Though I say that the player is never directly in danger in away missions, but that's not necessarily true. I found the game crashed often during the away missions, locking up near the end of the encounter. This becomes incredibly annoying, especially if people who hate you are hurt and you catch a lucky break. It's a smart idea to save almost all the time in order to keep progress from being lost, but this is an issue that shouldn't exist in the first place. It's always the away missions that lock up the game as well, stuck staring at the poorly placed characters on a boring flat background. No other instance of freezing has occurred besides on away missions.
Redshirt is an incredibly fun and interesting game mired in small problems that prohibit it from becoming a must buy. The social science behind making characters like you and working your way up the food chain is fun and addicting, but the sometimes unwieldy interface and tense while ugly as well as broken away missions are unfortunate spots on an otherwise good game.