Full motion gaming was all set to take over the video game world in the early 1990s. Games like Night Trap, Phantasmagoria, and Wing Commander III were going to take FMV and video games to new heights, but the fad never truly caught on. Even after vast technological improvements resulting in smoother gameplay, FMV in particular and interactive games in general are a very niche genre.
Developed and published by Rhinotales, She Sees Red is an interactive thriller. The story takes place during a murder investigation at a nightclub. In a change of pace, the player does not take the on the role of the investigator. Instead, choices are made for a mysterious third party.
This is a very nice touch. No matter what direction the story goes in, the female investigator always seems to be one step ahead of the player. Though the heroes and villains of She Sees Red are loosely defined, it is as if the gamer is trying to beat the detective. It is a fun cat and mouse that adds weight to decision making and depth to the characters.
As with any FMV, this is a game that is more about watching than doing. The story is extremely important since there is no true gameplay to cover up any deficiencies. She Sees Red will draw players in from the opening scene. As the plot progresses, it becomes clear this more than a matter of simple murder. The game does a great job of keeping players eyes glued to their screens despite the lack of gunplay or mechanics. These are real choices and consequences.
The acting is tremendous in She Sees Red. Veronika Plyashkevich stands out in the lead role and the writing does not have to hold the player’s hand. From the second she enters the game, she comes off as smarter and more capable than anyone else. Plyashkevich exudes quiet confidence while also taking command of every scene she is in. She may not be the one player’s control, but the investigator is the one they will be most invested in.
Replayability is an important part of FMV games. This is especially true of a game with length of She Sees Red. Clocking it at just over thirty minuets, the story ends just as things seem to be really heating up. This is not to say it does not provide closure. As soon as the climax happens, anyone playing will immediately think “how could I have avoided that?” There is also an intriguing prologue that promises the story has so much more.
Once the credits roll, it is easy to jump right back in. The characters and story that have already intrigued gamers opens doors that lead to more questions. The game is incredibly hard to put down once it is over. This is not due to it being short, but because the plot is so well constructed. She Sees Red will even have the most ardent interactive movie critics wanting to see what happens on a second playthrough.
Full motion video never did meet the loft expectations it was supposed to. In all likelihood, it never will since video games are a strong enough art form without needing to capture video. This does not mean the genre should be entirely discounted, however. Games like She Sees Red use a tight storytelling and great performances to illustrate just how great FMV games can be.