February 14, 2023
When an angel unexpectedly finds themselves banished from Heaven, they must work their way through Hell Incorporated to meet the boss. You hope that by meeting the boss, you can resolve this mistake and return to Heaven. What follows is the uncovering of a conspiracy that will shake both Heaven and Hell.
Red Tape manages to inject silly energy into a normally depressing situation, amusing you throughout the game. The bureaucratic setting becomes your playground for corporate shenanigans and goofs as the cast you encounter run into struggles that wouldn’t be out of place in a real company, despite the supernatural theme. The puzzles presented throughout will also have you thinking outside of the box, sometimes involving different floors of the company to find a solution. Unfortunately, the adventure doesn’t last long, and the comedic story feels unsatisfying after its conclusion.
As a former angel, everyone tells you that there’s nothing you can do and that you must accept your fate. Your stubborn refusal has you meet Beelzebub, one of the company directors. He explains you will never leave and the sooner you accept your fate, the happier you will be. The feeling of inescapable fate is a recurring theme throughout the game, and it reminds you of an unhappy corporate worker. You will be here forever, it’s better to accept your fate, don’t change the status quo because it doesn’t work.
The other theme on offer is that of grit and determination. The angel refuses to believe the situation they’re in can be as bad as they’re told. It’s interesting to see these themes clash together and ultimately drive the story, because it hits close to home. Anyone who has been in a soul-crushing job can relate to the angel because you refuse to believe this is your ultimate fate. On the other hand, you end up fitting into your environment, and despite your belief, end up becoming a good corporate employee. This clash makes you want to see the game through to the end because you want to know how the story resolves itself.
The cast of Hell Incorporated is a mix of characters from historical settings and literature with a corporate twist. What makes the cast endearing is that you are rarely seeing the dangerous threat they normally represent. Instead, everyone’s bogged down with the same issues that you would find in a corporate environment. Middle management trying to usurp power, workers refusing to work, and tasks that have been left undone for far too long.
“What makes the cast endearing is that you are rarely seeing the dangerous threat they normally represent.”
You relate to the characters because it’s easy to see why workers are dissatisfied and frustrated. Even if you are helping them because you want to leave, you still want the best possible outcome. They endear themselves to you, and it draws you into the story. You aren’t just helping characters to achieve an objective, but because there are still good people who need a hand.
The issues you must solve are real, but the problems are often exaggerated and the solutions are simple. From solving a fight between floor directors to stopping a strike, you must resort to supernatural and mundane solutions. Despite the apparent ease of solving the puzzles, you must use all resources available to find a solution. This includes traversing previously explored floors, or jumping to new areas to make new discoveries.
Having to think outside-the-box makes the puzzle-solving fun. None of the solutions are outrageous or hidden, but they do require some legwork. For example, finding a coin may at first appear difficult until you remember the first floor has a fountain full of coins. The solutions to problems often require creativity, which fills you with pride when you find them.
Unfortunately, the puzzles in Red Tape have little variety to them. You are often just moving around and finding solutions. Red Tape does involve platforming as part of the gameplay, but it feels forced. It doesn’t help that the last section of the game throws out puzzle-solving in favour of jumping around for clues. The lack of variety begins to take its toll as you head to new floors and know exactly what’s coming next. Any jumping activity feels like confusion as if the game doesn’t know what it wants to be.
The story itself seems basic but also takes a turn towards the contrived. Despite the supernatural setting, the plot is remarkably mundane and doesn’t make sense at some points. The ending takes this even further by filling in the gaps rapidly, as if the story was just a nonsensical plot. Red Tape is a short game; it’s possible to finish it in just under an hour. The lack of story development is disappointing, especially because the characterisation and themes are done well. While the game doesn’t need to be an epic journey, its short play time makes you feel unsatisfied, as if more could have been done. Seeing potential story development wither away lets the game down because there is potential in the silly setting.
“For a psychological horror game, the terrors don’t seem to linger in your mind. Unless caricatures of demons frighten you at night.”
Red Tape also advertises itself as containing psychological horror, but there isn’t much of that in this game. Despite the supernatural setting of Hell, it’s too silly to be horrifying. It’s more of a comedic adventure with supernatural elements rather than something that stays in your mind long after you play. Even the corporate terrors are just the routine of dealing with corporate problems with supernatural elements, rather than something terrifying. For any horror fans looking forward to a few frights, there aren’t many of those around.
Despite the short time you spend with Red Tape, it promises to be an hour of silly fun that provides a few chuckles. You will be proud of yourself for finding the solutions to the puzzles after doing some quick thinking. Finding out what happens to the angel at the end becomes your sole mission because you want to know how it all ends. While the game is held back by a lack of actual horror and a weak story, you will somewhat enjoy your short time in Hell Incorporated.
- Relatable corporate setting for anyone who's had a job
- Puzzles encourage creative thinking
- Excellent use of constrasting story themes
- The story is weak overall, with gaps hastily filled in towards the end
- Puzzles lack variety, and jumping sections feel forced
- Lack of true horror elements despite psychological horror label
Red Tape offers a comedic look at a fallen angel’s trip through a corporate version of Hell. It’s filled with silly characters and outside-the-box solutions that will have you chuckling as you navigate the game. Unfortunately, the story is weak and it ends hastily, filling in the remaining questions once you’re done. Other than fetch quest puzzles, there is little variety in the gameplay. Any attempts at variation through jumping activities feel out of place. If you are looking for a psychological horror experience that gets you thinking, you’re better served looking elsewhere. But if you want a funny game that lasts about an hour, Red Tape will do the job well.