Friday, 2 September 2016

Redshirt (PC)

Redshirt title screen
Developer:The Tiniest Shark|Release Date:2013|Systems:Win, Mac, Linux

This week on Super Adventures I'm celebrating the 50th anniversary of 'Star Trek' by playing a new Trek game each and every day! Or at least that was the plan, until I remembered that a: most of my readers don't want to see seven Star Trek games in a row, and b: I don't have seven Star Trek games I haven't played already. Also most Star Trek games are crap anyway!

So instead I'm playing seven games with a some kind of tenuous connection to the venerable sci-fi franchise, mostly just games with 'Star' or 'Trek' in the title to be honest, starting with recent indie game Redshirt by miniature microstudio The Tiniest Shark (aka. Dr Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris).

I know next to nothing about this game, but one thing I do know is that it's a sci-fi themed satire simulating Facebook... in space! So I'm not exactly the target audience, as I quit the site about the same time it started asking me what schools I went to. I ain't got no time for nosey websites. These days the closest I come to social networking is occasionally remembering to put site updates on Twitter (follow @RayHardgrit on Twitter for site updates!!)

I've seen a few of them 'Star Trek's though, so that's got to help.

(Click the screenshots to expand them to exciting new dimensions).

Already the game's got me trying to figure out what sci-fi stories it's spoofing. Megalodon-9 kind of sounds like 'Babylon 5' I guess, Geldar is 'Eldar' with G... no clue what 'Federation' could be from. 

Also I did bring a mop!

Though it looks more like a wig, and I'm not sure why there are four lights on it.

Spacebook, hah! Also there's a cunning reference to Anakin Skywalker's famous 'I don't like sand' line in the description of humans.

There's a few options here to customise my character (including a gender slider) but there's only a tiny handful of faces and hairstyles to choose from. Also it's letting me change my shirt colour, which is just wrong. I don't care that redshirts became mustardshirts in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', you call a game Redshirt, you give me a red shirt!

I can also choose to play as a cross between the sexy blue Asari from Mass Effect and the sexy green Orions from 'Star Trek', a miserable android, the end result of a Vulcan and a Ferengi getting into a transport accident, or...

...Kang/Kodos from 'The Simpsons'.

But I think I'm going to with the android, because I'm always playing as organic lifeforms in games and I feel like a change.

Wait, Asari... Orions... Asrions, wow I can't believe I didn't notice that earlier. The Asrions are a race entirely made up of women and are the only characters who get to wear skirts, which they must all wear without exception. Possibly a reference to the original 'Star Trek' that, though in Trek's defence it was the actresses who wanted to wear miniskirts and boots!

Wow, it's been a while since I've seen a 'Bigotry' slider in a game. I think I'll leave everything at its default values though, to get the most average typical play experience. I'll also leave it on 'Story' rather than 'Endless'.

By the way, you might be thinking that this space station looks just like the one in J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek' reboot movie, but it's actually very different.

See, the one in 'Star Trek' has six circles around the outside.

Also the 'Star Trek' space station doesn't have this mysterious grey triangle sticking out the side. annoying me. It looks like a bit of the shadow layer that wasn't masked out properly.

Ain't no nitpick too trivial for Super Adventures.

Words! Words and buttons all over the screen, with more words and buttons appearing on top of them! So much information to take in. By the way, I'm playing in 4:3 because widescreen just adds a starfield to either side, so you're getting bigger text this way.

Alright, it's July 2366 (midway through Season 3 of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'), my character is definitely a nobody, he's got 100 creds and 0 charisma, he's unhappy and unhealthy, he's not in a relationship, and he has 3 aspirations to attain.

My first aspiration is to add Astra to my Emoid's Spacebook friends list, which is also what the tutorial's telling me to do, so I'll spend one of my 4 actions clicking the 'ACCEPT' button on the top left. Oh duh, 'ad astra', there's another joke that eluded my long range sensors.

Oh cool, now I can spend a second action liking Astra's post about being friends with my character! Or maybe use this social map to find other people to send friend requests to.

Hey that Emoid on the top right is called Joh Xag. My second aspiration is to get Marvin romantically involved with someone called Joh Xag, so I'll spend my second action on sending her a relationship request on her Spacebook page. She's on Marvin's friends list so I'm hoping they've at least met before. I'm sure it'll all work out.

Every time an aspiration is completed it's replaced by a new one, and my new aspiration is to get three likes on a status update. So I'm going to update Marvin's Spacebook status by clicking one of these eight buttons!

Marvin also aspires to master his Transporter Accident Cleanup Technician job, so I'll see what I need to do for that.

Turns out that to master a job Marvin simply needs to stick with it for a while. But moving up to a better job requires higher level skills. You can see here he'll get better at REASSURING VOICE and TEDIOUS PAPERWORK just by turning up to work, but the others I'll need to level up elsewhere.

Fortunately the interface is so user friendly that clicking a skill brings up a window showing me how he can get better at it with events, jobs and items, and clicking on an event brings up the window that lets me start it.

I haven't got enough actions left for assertiveness training though, and I don't feel like spending Marvin's precious KarmaCreds to buy more, so I'll go check out the shop instead.

Oh damn, I'm just 150 credits short of being able to afford a RoboCat! This thing will work to give Marvin skills and happiness for a limited time. Then after 5 days I'll have to scrape together another 250 to repair it.

Well I can't buy that yet and Marvin really does already have a mop, so I'll finish the day by liking one of Joh-Xog's comments.

Redshirt end of day summary screen
Wow, two of Marvin's coworkers don't entirely hate him! I'm doing well. Also 8 hours mandatory sleep sounds nice.

The next day I found I only had one action to spend and Joh Xag was still mulling over Marvin's relationship request, so I decided to send her a message to help fill up that green bar under her portrait a little more. The messages are composed from four sentences, each with three choices, so I'm going to be seeing a lot of these same few lines.

After I used up my action I was immediately dragged off to the work screen.

That's a whole lot of ++2s Marvin's gotten with his coworkers. Seems that work isn't just good for money and skills, he's also getting the benefits of hanging out with people.

I like the little cartoons at the side showing the stuff my dude's been up to during the day by the way. There's no decisions to make during work though, this isn't The Sims (no matter how much it seems like it at times).

Hey now work's done I have more actions to spend (and KarmaCreds). I bet Joh Xog will really like Marvin if he takes her out on a 20th Century Earth Western Adventure, and it'll get him +5 happiness and delusions of heroism too!

But screw that, I'm doing assertiveness training! I don't want Marvin to be a Transporter Accident Cleanup Technician forever. I need better pay so I can get him a RoboCat and food. Though there's also restaurant events so he can eat out and get social benefits as well.

Events also adjust my character's interests, so the more he does something, the more he likes it. This is important because it affects the three top interests on his Spacebook page, which affects his compatibility with other people. It's all very complicated.

Awesome! Joh Xag accepted Marvin's relationship request! Now maybe the two of them will cheer up a bit. Also that completes an aspiration, giving me the new aspiration of... 'Buy this item from the S.H.O.P.: RoboCat'. Hell yeah.

Next time I got some more actions I took Joh out to Make it Pho to get some noodle soup (it’s all I can afford) to get some ++s and try to slow Marvin's decline into illness, and everyone came out of it very happy! Everyone except Ralph Landaverde who's feeling neglected that he didn't bring him too. So it's going to be like that is it? Whenever Marvin hang out with a group of friends, some of the others like him less?

Plus if he keeps eating out like this I’ll never be able to afford the cat.


159 days to go? What?

Well that's... ominous. I'm getting the impression that I need to get Marvin's ass off this space station before January or else he's doomed. At least I got some warning about his impending death though. In 'Star Trek' it was usually a lot more sudden.

Though whenever Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and Ensign Redshirt beamed down to a planet...

Star Trek 25th Anniversary he's dead jim
Star Trek 25th Anniversary (Amiga) knew one of them wasn't beaming back up. So the trick is to never leave the space station.

Oh balls.

After a few more days of liking messages and going to restaurants with Joh Marvin was suddenly pulled onto a mandatory away mission. There's no kind of gameplay here or even animation, Brama Felaeon was just disintegrated immediately due to low self-esteem and that was it. Still if these things didn't happen Marvin wouldn't have his transporter clean up job, so I guess I can't complain.

I think I’ll be saving more often though.

But hey Marvin got mission pay, made a new friend, and no one he knew died! So he came out of this pretty well all things considered.

Well that's over with now. Back to the regular grind of five days of work, two days off. He gets paid daily, so weekends can be a big drain on his cash as I get 6 actions and no income.

Joh’s been pestering him for a ROMANTIC date, so I tried to take her somewhere nice, but she was busy, so I sent Marvin out to the movies with his co-workers to watch 'Back to the Future' instead.


Well I learned a lesson here. If you're going to start an event, don't invite high ranking people or friends who aren't interested in the activity. I just wanted to send Marvin on a fun 20th Century Earth Western Adventure, but all he got out of it was loneliness and a charisma penalty.

This is all Joh Xag's fault for being busy again. Each action is like a slice of time, so I can fast forward a couple of hours by liking something on Spacebook, but there's no guarantee she'll be free then either, and people like to throw Marvin invites to stuff too so he's got stuff going on too.

Uh... that's not the kind of invite I'm really interested in right now Zenia. Marvin's currently seeing Joh Xag right now, and you can clearly see that on both their Spacebook pages! Sure Joh keeps sending messages saying that she's lonely and feeling neglected because they never do anything romantic, but they totally do! On the days when she isn't busy.

The thing about other people in this, is that they care more about what they want than what your character wants. So if your redshirt has publicly declared that they're a lesbian in a relationship they're still going to get men trying to ask them out, especially if they're Asrion (though this is apparently affected by that 'Bigotry' slider from earlier).

Awesome, Marvin's a master Transporter Accidental Cleanup Technician at last! So I immediately made him quit and became a Transporter Accident Cleanup Supervisor instead.

Though I've just realised that these Rank 1 jobs don't need him to have mastered a Rank 0 job to qualify. With five minutes of Zero-G Aerobics training he can quit this job and move up again! Unfortunately the higher paid jobs do require that a job from the previous rank has been mastered, so he'll be stuck repainting the hull for about 15 days before he can move up again. I'm starting to worry that I won't have time to get him all the way to the top job tier before my 149 days run out.

A couple of days later Marvin got the hull painting job and took Joh out to a fancy romantic dinner in his quarters to celebrate! But unlike most events, this has actually given me a single choice to make. I decided to talk about her interests, because that's often a good play, and it worked out. I got Interest++ in Creative Pursuits, ++10 with Joh Xag and a Charisma bonus too!

Holy shit Joh! Is this what all the romances are like in this or did Marvin just happen to date the one Emoid on the station who needs to do something romantic every 48 hours or she explodes?

She has time to pester Marvin all the time but never any time to go out. Why doesn't she ever invite him out if she's that desperate? He'd say yes, I'd make sure of it!

No, they got Zenia! She wasn't on the best of terms with Marvin after he turned her down, but she didn't deserve to spontaneously ascend to a higher place of existence like that! Or maybe she did, that doesn't actually sound like a terrible fate.

Wait, I have to choose the final person who dies? That's bloody harsh. Well I'm sorry Ralph Landaverde, but I'm going to have to kill... your buddy Erwin. Because Marvin doesn't know or care about him.

Before she died, Zenia gave me the heads up about a place called the Omega Bar, which seems to be a possible avenue to freedom. But it costs a fortune to get through the door, even more to afford the pass, and I need to work on his schmooze skill before that's even an option.

I can also just buy a shuttle ticket... for 50,000 KarmaCreds. Which is not going to happen. But this commander's assistant idea sounds like something I can do. I'll send Marvin climbing the ranks right up into a cosy shuttle.

To celebrate the slim hope of escaping certain possible death, I decided to invite Joh out somewhere romantic... and she stood Marvin up because he'd brought her there too recently! I... I don't even... I really don't. Well at least I was able to get him a RoboCat to keep him happy.


In fact I've been buying all kinds of crap, sometimes to achieve aspirations, sometimes because I want the extra happiness points. And every five days my happiness boosting items run out and I have to spend the full retail price repairing them. Because this is the cost of joy.

I admit that I don't get every sci-fi reference in this shop, but some of them like Worf's ceremonial blade up there are a bit too obvious to miss.

Also there's Talkie Toaster from 'Red Dwarf' (season IV version), and Jet Black's bonsai tree from 'Cowboy Bebop'! No sign of a giant miniature space hamster unfortunately, though I did find a regular non-hypnotic frog.

Wow, the game's given me an aspiration to start a romance with someone else now. Everything's conspiring to break Marvin and Joh up! I'm going to have to spend cash to get it out of my aspirations list, and the cost goes up each time.


Sorry Ralph but you've got to go. You've always gotten on pretty well with Marvin and you seem like a decent guy, but every time he invites people out they turn him down because of you. Not because he keeps inviting you along, but because you're in his Spacebook friends list at all!

It's not easy being a logical Emoid on a station of irrational assholes.

Seriously? I mean full marks for the 'Red Dwarf' reference, but seriously?

Well at least the relationship is over now. Marvin's free! Free to immediately start dating Rina Bohov to achieve another aspiration.

Hey, I got to take every achievable aspiration I can, as it keeps throwing 'get a mention from X', 'get three likes on your status update' ones at me, which I can never get. It costs money to replace a difficult aspiration and that price is going up each time.


Marvin's just one click away from a Rank 7 job! I've figured out the secret to speedy promotions now: be best friends with the hiring manager. Consuela will let him take the job with only one of the skill/rank/interest requirements achieved, meaning that he'll soon be the highest paid redshirt on the station.

Oh that's interesting. Marvin can leave the station right now if I want him to, though if he stays he'll be able to save someone else as well. Alright Rina, Marvin's going down to the Omega Bar to use his vast salary to get you an illegal shuttle ticket out of here.

Only just got it with 24 credits to spare!

But I don't know what to do now. I've got 57 days left until FINAL DEPARTURE and I've already achieved everything I need to. Unless... this ticket replaces Marvin's seat in the captain's shuttle and I need a second one to get Rina off the station. I have no idea if that's true or not, but a goal to accumulate 50,000 KarmaCreds at least gives me a reason to keep playing until the end.

So that's 40 days of work, 2 weeks off, I'll have to repair RoboCat 11 more times, send Marvin on 28 more romantic events, survive a couple more away missions and try to balance all his jealous petty friends until then. Also I'm making friends with all the officers too because I can now.


I don't believe it... Rina dumped Marvin on the day before the timer ran out! She'd rather die than be in a relationship with him for just one more day, that's pretty hardcore.

Well my next choice to receive the 50,000 KarmaCreds seat on the lifeboat is Marvin's oldest and dearest friend Astra, but I can't seem to scroll through this list, so I'll give it to... his new friend Officer Dada!

Redshirt you escaped screenshot
Oh I just remembered that all the officers already have a ticket to leave. Uh... oops.

That ending was even more abrupt than I was expecting. Just a picture and a couple of sentences and it's over. All the people I spent so long struggling to keep in the green have been incinerated, all those posts I liked were basically meaningless in the end. Though Marvin does get to keep his his high-paid job and his RoboCat!

Maybe I'd get to see the station explode for a different reason if I replayed it and got the ticket a different way, I dunno. I'm in no hurry to start it up again though.


The trouble with Redshirt is that I keep thinking that it's called Redshirts, and having to correct myself.

It's a likeable game, so I feel like starting with something positive: the UI is actually pretty good! Sure it looks like an avalanche of information at first but I quickly got my head around it and found that if something was mentioned on screen I could generally click it to end up where I wanted to be. The game looks and sounds pretty much what a Facebook/Star Trek parody should look like, though it really is just static screens and menus. You'll never see more of the station, or the events the characters go to, or much of anything really.

Also it looks like the kind of game that might have a bit of a story hidden inside, but not so much. It's definitely not a visual novel or a choose your own adventure at any point. Plus outside of the a few messages to set up your goals and the limited selection of repeated status update jokes, everything you read on Spacebook is built from the same limited message creator you use to post messages yourself. There's no characters in this, just names with traits and interests and petty dislikes attached, repeating the same familiar lines. Romances are all about your partner constantly sending messages saying ‘can we go on a date pls’ ‘are we going on a date yet?’ ‘date pls?’ unless you spend precious actions sending them somewhere romantic every couple of days, and that's apparently it.

It's one of those games where you want to keep playing for one more turn because there's always something to do, but after I completed my goal of getting the ticket I realised that I didn't want anything to do with these people any more. Keeping them happy is a pain as they invent new reasons to dislike you and complain when they're left out, and once you've reached the top and bought everything worth having there's not much else to play it for. You're not decorating a house or working on a farm on the side, just managing a friends list and liking posts. Though to be fair I utterly failed at the Facebook side of the game, never achieving even the most basic 'get mentioned' or 'get likes' aspirations, so maybe there's more of a game to it than I'm seeing.

But I did stick with it to the end, so it's got that going for it. The creator apparently grew up in the same universes I did, and it turns out that as long as I've got buttons that need clicking and sci-fi references I recognise I'll be happy enough for a few hours. In fact I can honestly say that it is the best... whatever this is, that I've played.

Super Adventures' Star Trek 50th anniversary week continues tomorrow with something a little older. I'll let you try to guess whether it's going to be a 'Star' game or a 'Trek' game.

Remember to leave me real human feedback to validate my site's existence!


  1. Doesn't look very fun. All those images of menu screens are sleep inducing.

  2. Doesn't look very fun. All those images of menu screens are sleep inducing.

  3. I've always though that there was a decent (term used advisedly) mash-up to be made between Leisure Suit Larry and Star Trek TNG.

    With a few tweaks this game could fit that mould, with Riker continually sending you invites to join him on the holodeck whilst you fend off increasingly insistent overtures from Captain Picard to join him 'in his Ready Room'.

    I'm also amazed there was never a Red Dwarf game (although I guess it's height of popularity was after the British home-brewed video games bonanza of the mid-Eighties and nobody was going to stick actual money behind a BBC tie-in); I'd love a Lucas Arts style point and click aventure ('TAKE Bronze Swimming Certificate' 'USE Hoover on Recharge Socket') set in that universe.

    1. I'm amazed we never got a STAR WARS LucasArts point and click adventure, seeing as they no trouble using the licence for a fighting game, a first person shooter, a super-deformed racing game, Monopoly, a desktop adventure, a Kinect dancing game, and Angry Birds. Sure Star Wars is a very action-adventure franchise, but 'C3PO & R2D2 Hit the Road' could've totally worked!

      But yeah, I wouldn't be crazy about Leisure Suit Larry in space, but it'd be nice to play a Star Trek game with some more humour to it. And good character interactions. And beautiful graphics. And exploration. Actually I basically just want Star Trek: Mass Effect. I've been holding out hope that a company like Obsidian will get a chance to make it ever since I gave up waiting for Knights of the Old Star Trek to happen.

  4. Though it looks more like a wig, and I'm not sure why there are four lights on it.

    It's a Cardassian mop, obviously.


Semi-Random Game Box