There have been many debates across the world of gaming – things like when is a game not a game, or can games be considered as true art? In the world of FMV (full motion video) there has always been a fine line between making limited in-game decisions or just leaving you to sit back and watch a movie, as you are left choosing a specific dialogue option or the chance to head down a path. She Sees Red is no different in its gameplay concept, but does it manage to keep your attention like a movie would?
She Sees Red is a Russian criminal interactive movie, and a very entertaining, highly surprising, murder mystery experience. Your job is to make decisions from a number of choices that are played out in the story, all in order for you to unlock different endings and be able to view all 62 scenes that are included and available to watch. The narrative is a good one too, beginning in a nightclub where several employees have been killed. A detective arrives at the scene and begins to deal with the hard Mafia-styled owner to try to work out the order of the events.
What the game/movie does in a very clever and interesting way is to blend the two worlds of the detective following the case, and the actual murderer who is still going about their business. For instance, you might be found in a corridor as the detective following some clues, and then the film will cut to the murderer, set in the same corridor only 20 minutes earlier – the time when the first attack happened. The story is a very clever one that is told nicely, and it will only take you half an hour or so to complete on your first playthrough. But what it does in those 30 minutes is introduce several intriguing twists and turns; twists and turns that hardly answer any questions you may have about the plot and story, thus ensuring you will want to take in another playthrough.
Gameplay-wise there isn’t really much to She Sees Red I’m afraid – only some path choices to make from the murderer’s point of view. You might get to a situation where the murderer has a guard walking towards them and it will be up to you to quickly choose to hide or distract. Each path taken will lead to a different scene and the possibility of affecting the ending of the playthrough. There is quite a small time window with which you can make your decision, and this all adds to the tension of the story. Whether you’re going to enjoy this limited gameplay will ultimately dictate whether a purchase of She Sees Red on Xbox One is going to be for you or not.
Personally I think this is no different to most other FMV games, except here there are fewer decisions to make along the way. But to compensate, the package feels very tightly constructed and nothing really ever feels bloated. This means that once you’re done with one playthrough, you’ll be more than up for a second and third, without that dreaded feel that you’re going to be left taking in the same old things again. The difference in choices really does give you new scenes and completely new strands to the story, ensuring this stands away from some other FMV titles in which your decision only affect the narrative slightly. You’ll want to go back through multiple times too, as it will only be then where you begin to get an overall understanding of the story and the motives behind the attack.
As you would expect, the visuals in She Sees Red are all film-based, but the menu design is impressive with some behind the scenes footage delivered via images, whilst further videos of how the scenes were produced are interesting. The video quality used throughout is of a very good standard and the development team have used the limited locations they have extremely well, with some excellent lighting and extremely good use of edits throughout. The direction is brilliant as well, with some clever storytelling techniques and excellent fight scenes that would sit nicely amongst a summer action movie. When it comes to the performances the cast is on point, especially the main villain who you wouldn’t want to meet down a back alley any time soon.
Sound-wise the music works effectively with the beats of the story. I would advise choosing the Original Russian language option with subtitles rather than the dubbed English version as for me it comes across better. There has however been a decent job of matching the tones of all the original Russian actors.
If you want a good solid FMV that is clever, brilliantly filmed, and has enough twists and turns to keep you interested then you should definitely give She Sees Red on Xbox One a go. However, if you after gameplay, or anything more than some action-orientated choices every eight minutes or so, then this isn’t the game for you.