Heroes Rise: The Hero Project
Last year you began your saga with Heroes Rise: The Prodigy and now Zachary Sergi and Choice of Games present the next step with Heroes Rise: The Hero Project, a interactive fiction/RPG game where your choices determine your fate in a rich, complex world. If you still have your original save file, you can continue from the end of the first chapter with your stats and relationships in check, or start anew. Don't worry if you haven't played the original, the game does a good job of keeping you up to date as it walks you through the character creation process, though it glosses over a lot. With stats that keep track of public opinion, your relationships, health and powers and more, everything you do has a consequence. From the way people perceive you, to potential romances, unexpected events, battles and beyond, The Hero Project is all about giving you the freedom of choice to succeed... or fail.
As the game begins, following the events of The Prodigy, you find yourself once again struggling to juggle what little remains of your personal, private life with trying to regain the favour you lost and outrun the vivid nightmares you've been having. With few high profile missions coming your way, rent due, and Unemployment Checks not cutting it, you decide to sign up for The Hero Project... a reality TV show designed to find the heroes best suited for forming The American Protectorate. And really, what better way to find the best heroes for the job than a sleazy TV program complete with backstabbing, trials, and alliances? Or maybe that's exactly what you like? You'll get your chance to find out and play the game how you want, but just because you're in show business now doesn't mean the rest of the world is standing still, and an entirely new threat, more deadly even than the rising anti-powered opinions, is about to come into play...
And, again, The Hero Project continues Choice of Games's tradition of allowing for all the inclusive customisation other games sorely lack, from allowing you to choose the sexuality of your character and even a more fluid gender option than man or woman, which is something you rarely see. All of it is very well written and thought out, buoyed by a new cast of interesting heroes and villains to get to know, but it does feel a bit less personally relevant than the origin-centric story of the first game, which may lose some appeal with certain players. Especially when the game jumps forward months at a time. Like its predecessor, The Hero Project is very text-heavy, and you can go pages without making a choice at all, much less one that feels like it has any weight beyond the cosmetic. But it's a lengthy game with a lot of surprises and action, as well as perhaps a greater emphasis on character and even political relationships that before. The Hero Project is a worthy successor that may lack the personal appeal of the original, but expands its world and cast of characters in ways that make for an exciting read.