She Sees Red

Publisher: RhinoTales
Developer: RhinoTales
Year: 2019
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Switch, Xbox One,

Rating: 5

Following the release of the interactive episode Bandersnatch by the Black Mirror folks, there’s been several copycats, including a similar episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt as well as Minecraft: Story Mode. Naturally, this was also a vehicle ripe for plucking by the video game industry as well. While the structure of CYOA is limiting as far as gameplay, She Sees Red is a fun if sometimes confusing ride.

Filmed in Kazakhstan and written in Russian, it’s kind of amazing this has received the amount of attention it has. While there’s English dubbing, it is very distracting; the English voice actors are fine, but I have trouble staying focused when the speech doesn’t match the lips. I opted to play with subtitles, which were well presented.

As for the plot, you follow an investigation by government officials into a nightclub murder. The investigator is well-played by Veronika Plyashkevich. She’s got a little bit of Sherlock Holmes and a little bit of Indiana Jones, but also makes it her own and is easily the highlight of the whole experience. The plot and the film style are mafia-laden and should be fun for those into the genre. It is graphically violent in a few spots (think Eastern Promises), so if you don’t have the stomach for that kind of thing, you’ll want to take a hard pass. That said, the action scenes are top-notch and the production values are television quality.

The interesting take on the choice structure here is that for most of the game, you actually make choices for the suspect, revealed in flashbacks from about forty-five minutes prior. This changes what the investigator finds and how the goons at the nightclub respond as well. Near the end, the investigator also gets to make a couple decisions of her own. There are four distinct endings to this story. I found the “best” ending on my first go round, but at that point the story had kind of lost me. The worse endings actually illuminate the story much more clearly and give significant reason to keep playing until you find everything. Blissfully, you can skip videos you’ve already seen, so an entire sweep of the story paths should take less than two hours. I think I would have enjoyed this more had I reached the bad endings first, but all-in-all I still enjoyed the story despite there being not enough time to get to know the characters.

Given the brevity of the story (both in terms of time and depth), I’m glad I didn’t pay more than a few bucks for this. Still, it was enjoyable and worth the price. I hope RhinoTales is able to put out another game in the future.

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