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Games The O.D. on Games

The O.D. on Games: Dandara and The Red Strings Club

Rulerofowls and Nathan Drowl cross paths in the lunch room and discuss this week’s gaming activities and what has eaten up their time:

  • ND: Hey ROW, made any progress on the RDR2 article?
  • ROW: Yep! I have a pretty good idea of what the article will be and need a bit more time with the game, to “grow” it into something satisfactory; not sure if it’s going to be a one-off or a few articles spaced out yet, but I’m making progress…
  • ND: Wait, so it won’t be out this week?
  • ROW: Nope, it’s not ready yet.
  • ND: So, what are we going to do for this week’s article? Another round of F.A.C. game reviews or an actual O.D. on a game?
  • ROW: Neither; instead we’ll talk about our “pallet-cleansers” from this week, because there’s one I’ve been playing this week that I looked forward to playing and want to talk about.
  • ND: Is it that “The Red Strings Club” game?
  • ROW: Yes; that game’s really cool.
  • ND: It’s kind of a visual novel right?
  • ROW: No, I think it is precisely a visual novel, but with a lot more interactivity and “dressing up” the text-heavy portions of the game with a more “active” pixel-art style and a few neat mini-games.
  • ND: So, if I don’t like visual novels will I like this game?
  • ROW: I think it depends on your patience for story-heavy games; “The Red Strings Club” has a few neat gameplay ideas (like mixing drinks for customers to tap into their feelings and get them to talk to you), a really great looking style, but mostly, you’re there for the story, the characters, and the world.
  • ND: What’s the setting, then?
  • ROW: It’s a cyberpunk game where the player follows a few ‘strings’ of connected stories involving a conspiracy by a mega-corporation, the imminent release of an advanced android, the rebellion active in that city, and a few other surprises, through Donovan—the bartender/information broker of the titular Red Strings Club.
  • ND: So mystery, conspiracy, and philosophy; the writing better be good…
  • ROW: It—mostly—is; the characters are all fairly well written, the story actually takes a few interesting routes and explores them quite well. I didn’t really like the 4th wall breaking humor attempts (they don’t really fit well in this game) or the supernatural elements, but I was enjoying myself playing through the game and experiencing the world, the story it wanted to tell; stories are best experienced unspoiled so I won’t say anything about it besides that it is very good and I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • ND: You mentioned some mini-games…
  • ROW: Yeah, some of them are more important to call mini-games, but the interactivity makes the experience a lot more “friendly” and entertaining. You get to mix drinks, makes “sculptures”, take quizzes to test your knowledge of a client, etc. Some of the controls are very finicky, but they were a nice addition and a good way to pace the game properly; an added bonus is that at 4 hours long, the game knows its intended length and does not overstay its welcome.
  • ND: Sounds interesting…
  • ROW: Which reminds me to give a special shoutout to the music of the game; it’s a pretty good mix of electronic, rock, and jazz music, which I really enjoyed. So, on to your pallet-cleanser! You’ve been playing Dandara, right?
  • ND: Here and there; I haven’t put as much time as I wanted in it, but I like what I’ve played so far.
  • ROW: It’s basically an action-platformer where the player-character does not walk, run, or jump, right?
  • ND: Yeah, you basically teleport to specific spots in the map; this is basically a game-jam game, where the theme was to make a genre-game without a defining characteristic of that genre; regardless, it works very well and presents you with a fresh experience that feels really good to play, great to look at and hear, and mixes a few other elements from other genres to create a challenging game.
  • ROW: I know where this is going…
  • ND: Yes, you have bondfires and collect the equivalent of souls, it gets pretty hard very quickly, maps loop into each other creating shortcuts, you die a lot; it takes a lot of inspiration from Dark Souls, no doubt! But, it’s also a competent 2D platformer and a MetroidVania game, which all mix really nicely with the new ideas the game has, and create a pretty fresh-feeling game. I haven’t played as much as I would like though…
  • ROW: Why is that?
  • ND: I suck at it and keep dying, which could lead me to lose interest and stop trying, but I don’t regret picking up the game and still think it is worth a shot; also RDR2 is taking A LOT of my time right now!
  • ROW: I know what you mean! I’m around 40 hours in and I just started the 3rd chapter, but the article is coming along nicely and will—hopefully—be ready for next week!

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