The Red Strings Club. This is a cyberpunk bartending simulation game. And yes, immediately you can have throwbacks to this game. However, which those words can describe both games, both are very distinctly different in style. And at the same time - so similar... Goddamnit, this is gonna be hard. In any case, I haven't finished it yet, but I already got hit with a strong impression.
The story of a game is, of course, a story of The Red Strings Club - an old-style melancholy bar. The bar is run by Donovan, who is a real magician of a bartending world. His thing is, apparently, mixing drinks based on emotions. And, seeing how that gives him certain control over his clients, it's no wonder that he also works as information broker. Game centers on him, but he is not the only playable character. Other two main heroes are hacker Brandeis, overzealous with anti-corporation activism, and android Akara, who is already one huge spoiler and is probably the best artificial intelligence in existence. This group gets mixed up in event, that makes them pursue a very specific and dangerous information.
So, what is the gameplay here? Well, basically, it's a chain of minigames, out of which the bartending game seems to be most prevalent. Your goal is to move the marker over one of your client's emotions, and you literally do it with drinks. Mechanics get added with allowing to mix drinks in a shaker before pouring them, and with drinks that allow to rotate the marker. Of course, you aren't doing it just for fun. After putting your client into the certain mood, you start asking questions. And who knows, maybe they will slip up and give you some info when they are paranoid, or when they are ecstatic.
Another mini-game I saw was the implant-crafting game, which is akin to making clay pots. You click mouse repeatedly to get the wheel spinning, you select a tool, and you carve. Easy as that, and you can roll-back the changes. Interestingly enough, mini-games never rush you. You are allowed to properly craft, whatever craft you are performing, and it gives a nice feeling.
And, saying all that - there's no saving in this game. Checkpoints allow you to leave the game and continue, but you can't change your choice unless you go for another playthrough.
Speaking of playthrough, game definitely plays with multiple choices. And it even gives you visual representation in a form of - yes - red string that you can view and see all the important turns of events. At the same time, the string is still linear - it's like a road with several nodes every once in a while, and you may pass by a specific node, but you are still moving forward anyways. So I am not sure how important my choices would be.
The unfolding story, though... Yes, it is good. It's damn good. It's melancholy like cyberpunk story must be, and at the same time it got just a little hint of supernatural to make you wonder about this world more. Also, it feels like there is actually not much idle talk - you have a feeling that your every client directly progresses the story, so the whole feeling is quite determined.
Art is, as you can see, the good old pixel style, which works nice, and it's a good style for what is going on. Music is also very nice, giving you the slow, a little bit melancholy mood. You cannot select the soundtrack, but I never really felt like doing that anyways.
All in all? I love this game style, and it's a great game to relax and think about things. All while mixing drinks to maybe save the world. Or something.