For the past decade or so developers like Quantic Dream, Sam Barlow and Telltale Games have set the standard for what an interactive drama should be. Since then we’ve seen a slew of games try their hands at this genre to varying degrees of success, and I think I can comfortably say that She Sees Red may well be the worst one yet.
The main difference in She Sees Red is that it’s an interactive movie rather than a narrative driven video game, basically it has more in common with something like Telling Lies than it does Heavy Rain due to using live action scenes. This doesn’t however excuse it from being one of the worst games I have ever played on the Nintendo Switch that left me questioning who this is for and why it even exists.
Gameplay is limited to the joysticks and the B button as all you’ll ever do is pick one of two decisions… That is all the gameplay completely covered, seriously. I understand that this side of interactive dramas/movies is always secondary to the narrative but at least in games like Telling Lies and Her Story there’s a certain degree of freedom where you can play around and do a lot more than just pick option A or option B to see which scene you get.
It’s not as if the A & B options even matter that much anyway. For the most part it would just be ‘do something’ or ‘do nothing’ but worded differently to match the current situation. The decision you make would trigger a different cutscene but never drastic enough to really affect an already dull narrative void of any imagination or originality. There were even certain situations where all that would change is the timing of when an event happens, so in the end your decisions don’t matter at all, it just controls the order in which you get to experience the grind that is watching these boring cutscenes.
I could forgive the non existent gameplay if the story was well executed and addictive, unfortunately that is not the case. The story (I use that term lightly) follows our mysterious hooded protagonist (once again, using that term lightly) as they sneak through a busy Russian nightclub, murdering security guards along the way. You are then chased by a detective alongside the club’s owner who both follow about an hour behind you searching for any clues you may have left behind.
The way the plot then develops from there is boring and often confusing. From the very start when you boot up the game it encourages the player to experience more than one playthrough to see the full story, this is asking a lot because after my first 40 minute long playthrough I felt ready to scoop my eyes out with a spoon due to mind numbing boredom. I forced myself into a second playthrough however and that only made things worse. Yeah sure you could make different ‘decisions’ and see a new cutscene but that scene is often just as boring as the alternative. Unravelling the full story can only be rewarding when that story is interesting, this one is not.
The majority of each playthrough consists of watching our hooded friend sneak through dark hallways and rummage through desk drawers and boxes, fun. There’s really not much else to say, the hidden items you often discover are very generic, stereotypical bad guy club owner stuff that slowly reveals your identity which was pretty obvious from a few minutes in.
On the other side we have the detective and the club owner who pretty much do all the talking. It’s worth noting this is a Russian story with English dubs so I’m mostly criticising the English voice actors here.. To be fair, the female detective is voice acted very well but her dialogue is well short of anything of actual interest. The club owner who is positioned as the antagonist is so piss-poorly voice acted and written that it actually became funny after a while. At times it felt as if the script was written by a 12 year old and then voice acted by a corny Batman villain-reject.
I really don’t have a lot else to say on She Sees Red. I said at the beginning of this review that I don’t understand who this is for. As a gamer there is no game to be played and as a movie buff there is just a cheap, badly made movie that takes forever to get through because they want to sell it to gamers. I want to try find some positives but outside of being thankful it’s relatively short and the female detective being quite good, I just can’t.
If for whatever reason this is your first time with an interactive drama then please don’t let this abomination put you off playing other brilliant titles in this genre, in fact I’ll leave you with this piece of advise. Right at the beginning you get your first choice, it’s a yes or no decision about starting the game. If you pick no then the game sends you straight to credits in what I assume is an attempt at comedy. I suggest you do just that because you’ll end up with a better overall experience where you wouldn’t have wasted a couple of hours of your life like I did.
She Sees Red.. well she now sees red in the score below too.