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Video games provide us with the ability to leave our everyday lives and for however long we choose to play, give us the chance to be someone different for that time, be it a gangster founding a criminal empire, an intergalactic bounty hunter exploring forgotten planets or perhaps just a witch whose sole power seems to be the ability to make groups of bubbles come together … whatever it is, there seems to be a game for everyone.
This of course is none the clearer when you look at H.E.R.O. Unit a text-based mobile game, which sees the player taking on the role of a Hotline Emergency Response Operator (HERO) as you handle calls from individuals, selecting the best responses to help. The outcome of the call is charted as good or bad, being determined by the responses you give, and with some calls providing multiple outcomes, there is always an urge to go back and experiment with the responses to see how else it can play out. Either way, the end result always comes in the form of a news article, which is published when you have completed the call.
When it comes to careers, its doubtful that many of us would want to be the one responsible for handling such potentially high-stakes emergency calls, especially when these operators are constantly faced with traumatic life and death situations. As such, the game provides the ability to experience what it is to do the job, especially with many of the calls you handle over the course of the game being inspired by real-life calls and events. There is a strong sense of realism to the game, even if you’re handling fictional emergency calls, a fact that escaped me for a moment when I started playing the game and suddenly had the feeling I was taking actually calls.
The interface is clean and easy to navigate with most of the game presented like a DOS text-based adventure as the calls comes through while your responses are given in dialogue boxes below, meaning that the experience plays like a “Choose your own adventure” novel, only here you don’t have the ability to hold the page while you check the outcomes of your actions. This does however mean that with such preset options, the game can feel very much on rails, which is only made the more so when often forced to choose between the lesser of two bad options. Still, at certain points of the game, you do get the option to replay the calls, giving you a chance to discover the more positive / negative outcomes which you can achieve through alternative choices.
The calls you handle are really a mixed bunch of both dramatic and funny, which keeps things interesting as one call sees you trying to stop a possible bombing attempt using clues and subtle hints while another has you trying to save a child from his mother’s violent boyfriend. At the same time you could also be handling a call from a young girl whose convinced that Santa isn’t going to visit because she was bad, like an actual operator, your never quite sure what your going to get, but as always, how you handle these situations and their outcome lies in the choices you make.
The downside to the game though is that its very limited in its scope and after about an hour, I felt that I had pretty much got everything I was going to get out of the game while the other thing which made me want to replay the calls were the ones I had gotten negative outcomes for, rather than trying to get all seventeen potential endings, which one of these calls has. That being said, its a fun and certainly unique experience while it lasted making it a good impulse purchase to kill an hour or two but far from a satisfying long term prospect. You can download the game from their homepage.
Game description: H.E.R.O. Unit is 2017 is mobile simulation text adventure, which puts you in the hot seat as an emergency services operator trying to make the right calls.