Preview: Red Shirt

Now a lot of us have come across social hooks in video games, whether it be a "Like Us On Facebook" message or "Post My Updates To Twitter," but what if the social aspect WAS the game? Red Shirt may be the single most obscure game I have ever played, taking the world of Facebook and implanting it within a parody of the Star Trek universe thus combining interstellar style characters with high school like drama. The idea here is that while there are heroes in Sci-Fi universes, there are also just regular people, and these regular people would subscribe to social media. Unfortunately, it hasn’t evolved much in a hundred years because it just looks a lot like a fake Facebook. You'll spend the entire game as a Red Shirt assigned as a janitor for a space station and interact with all of your friends and colleagues through "Spacebook." You literally spend all of your time looking at fake profile pages and feeds as you try to involve yourself in the social lives of others for personal gain which is a unique concept but not entirely thrilling from what I’ve played so far.

I can see what the game is going for with the idea of “why not make Facebook the actual game” but I feel like the game missed the point of what makes Facebook addicting. Still there is something interesting to be said about a project like this one. I was intrigued by the concept of a Star Trek-like social media game and there are some clever attempts at humor here. The game is all from the perspective of the Spacebook pages that you interact with. Energy and health for your character are influenced by the actions you take in work and the moves you make on Spacebook. Depending on the relationships you make you can earn promotions in your job and earn a new position. The day is broken up into chunks and you only have so many actions before taking a break by going to work, eating some food, or going to bed.

At the bottom of the screen is a list of what you would consider your only real objectives in the game which range from making friends with certain people to becoming “in a relationship” with others. And how do you do this? By liking their posts and sending them messages. Sending messages consists of the game asking you for the tone of the message while the actual typing is automated. The game is fairly simplistic, making it easy enough to figure its ins and outs. The alien character designs are pretty interesting but a big part of the game is exploring their Spacebook pages and finding out more about the other people in the space station.

For a game based entirely on the UI, it could have been made easier to navigate. The placement of objective text is odd and the ability to keep track of your character stats could be brought to the forefront a little more as to make the game slightly more compelling.

I think Red Shirt is something that has potential but has yet to come to fruition. This is an interesting idea that could be amazing in a bigger Sci-Fi game, but as a standalone experience it is hard to see where the appeal will lie. I’m a big fan of Sci-Fi games, especially when it comes to parody, so I hope this is a game that will turn out fun and hopefully provide some laughs. So far the game is kind of lackluster for content but with some clever writing and little more effort into the actual ins and outs of gameplay this could be a really interesting and fun game and only time will tell to see how it all turns out.