She Sees Red Review | But Not For Long

Since the release of Bandersnatch, the Black Mirror episode that everyone has now at least heard of, the genre of interactive movies seems to have hit a new stride, and are stepping up their game. She Sees Red is an interactive thriller set in a nightclub where you jump between the present, following a detective attempting to find a murderer, and the past, where you make choices as that mysterious murderer trying to escape the club alive. This film uses the decisions you make to alter what happens throughout its roughly 45-minute runtime. 

The story presented in She Sees Red is intriguing, but a bit confusing during the first playthrough. The introduction screen does state that it recommends at least two full playthroughs of the story. I would like to second that recommendation as I was able to get a much better understanding of the story around halfway through my second run. In total, I've played through the story five times, which only took about 2 hours, thanks to the handy skip feature that is enabled on scenes you have already watched after the second playthrough, and I was able to watch 56 of the 62 scenes in the game. By the end of those watches, I was overall quite pleased with the story and all 4 of the available endings.

The plot isn't anything too new or unique, but there are still some pleasant surprises and twists. Plus the way it is presented with the multitude of scene combinations and four quite varying endings gives it a nice bit of replayability. Many of the choices you make have an immediate impact, which is a nice departure from interactive games I played in the past that made me feel like my choices did not matter. That being said, there are only 7-8 choices per run, but thanks to the handy skip feature, it is easy to spend roughly a feature film length of time as you try and discover which choice combinations will lead you to new scenes in order to try and find all 64. Much like a Telltale game, choices themselves are only on screen for a few seconds, forcing you to think quick on your feet, often unsure of how your choice will influence what will happen next. I found that this added a fun risk element to the game, as even though I did make the choice of whether to hide or distract, I didn't know what exactly either of those would entail. However, if you are looking for an experience that lets you feel in control, then this may not be the one for you, but if you want more of a fun and quick "shoot from the hip and see what happens" kinda game, then I'd definitely recommend it. 

Now, let's get technical for a bit. The cinematography was very well done with every shot showcasing great lighting and framing. The transitions between the past and the present were creative and never felt jarring or out of place. The pacing is quick but slow enough to allow you to absorb each moment, and each of the scenes are amplified by some very strong acting. Speaking of acting, I would recommend using the original Russian dialogue with the English subtitles if you think you can keep up. There is an option to use English dubbing, but I found it to be tonally out of sync, whereas the Russian dialogue portrayed the emotions exactly as you see them. The background music has a bit of a techno-flare while being subtle and building onto the intensity of scenes. Technically speaking this is an extremely well-made short film, and even if you took out the interactive portion and made it into one cohesive story, it would still be an engaging watch.

While it looks and sounds great, the biggest gripe I have with She Sees Red is that they chose to publish it as a game rather than a movie. With the pretense of it being available on consoles, players will expect it to be more like a visual novel where decisions are made fairly often, but with only a handful of choices in the roughly 45-minute short film, gamers will likely feel ripped off by the $9.99 price tag. Though if you go in with the expectations of a movie with some interactive elements, as long as you like the story, you will be left with a positive opinion of She Sees Red.

Overall this is a quick and fun interactive movie that, in my opinion, is worth the short time that it takes to complete. But that's an opinion that will change drastically depending on what kind of player you are and what your expectations are going into it in the first place. She Sees Red is available now on PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, and Android. A review code on the Xbox One was provided by the publisher.

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