She Sees Red has you sneaking through a nightclub trying to avoid security guards. Standard Saturday night in Birmingham, really.
Interactive movies have seen something of a resurgence in recent years, with the likes of Wales Interactive, IzanagiGames, and even Netflix bringing this fusion of movie and game to larger audiences. Whilst there are those who would shoot down these experiences and point out that they might be better as just being movies. I am not one of those however and enjoy watching/playing through these Full Motion Video (FMV) games multiple times to find different endings. Recently, I’ve been playing She Sees Red, an interactive thriller from Rhinotales. This is a story-heavy experience as you might expect, so I’ll be light on the spoilers.
In She Sees Red, you play through the story of an individual sneaking through the back rooms of a nightclub all whilst a detective tries to unravel what happened. These events are shown together, so you’ll play through a scene with the criminal, making decisions based on pairs of choices along the way, before seeing how the detective reacts to those actions. It’s quite nicely done and keeps the pace up as you work your way around the guards and other staff before watching your opponent piece together your actions.
As the story goes on, you’ll find that your choices make both small and large differences to the subsequent scene. Whilst you’ll still reach the finale regardless of your decisions, there are four different endings. You’re encouraged from the start to play through more than once to get a complete picture of the story, and it’s certainly true that I needed a couple of runs to put it all together. Replaying scenes was a touch annoying, but after two playthroughs you unlock the ability to skip scenes you’ve already watched. This is fine, but you’re unable to skip ones that only have minor differences. With that said, each scene is pretty short — in fact, you can finish a run in about three-quarters of an hour — so rewatching one isn’t a huge issue.
Unfortunately, there aren’t really that many choices to make along the way. Over the course of a single run, you’ll make maybe a total of eight decisions, and regardless of the choices you make early on, the ones later on are rarely different. The fact is that only a few choices really do matter. Most make things change slightly for the next scene, but only a couple really have an effect towards the end. I appreciate that crafting an interactive movie with hordes of different endings and scenes is a bit much to ask, but when you tell me that every choice matters, it’s not unreasonable to expect that to be true.
Considering She Sees Red is a movie as well as a game, the acting and camera work are key factors, and these are fairly solid. The acting is mostly good, and there are few inconsistencies based on your choices. The voices are a little off at points as this is dubbed from Russian. There were points where the voices clearly didn’t sync up with the environments the characters were in. I’d strongly recommend setting the audio to Russian and putting on subtitles as I found this much more enjoyable. The camera and lighting are both really quite good, with the former being used quite effectively during the fight scenes that crop up in most paths. I was quite impressed with these, and they were much better — and far bloodier — than ones I’ve seen in other interactive movies.
In spite of this being very short and having a fairly simple plot, I did enjoy my time with She Sees Red. There’s potential for a lot more here, but as a reasonably priced interactive movie it’s an enjoyable option. I’d happily see Rhinotales make a larger scale stab at this genre in the future.