by Zachary Sergi, fantasy (2012)
Choice Of Games, $2.99, ISBN N/A
Like other interactive multiple-choice gamebooks from Choice Of Games, Heroes Rise is a Choose Your Own Adventure-style affair that allows you to create a hero from scratch and run wild in Millennia City.
The setting is, er, a homage to many comic book tropes in the last twenty years, so don't be surprised if some of the elements here seem very familiar. Basically, in this story, Powered people are registered and regulated by laws that govern their actions, even when catching evil-doers. Registered Powered heroes often form supergroups and become celebrities.
You, however, start out at the bottom of the barrel. Your parents were taken away after accidentally killing an evil-doer, and you have been daydreaming about taking up your parents' cape. In this campaign, you eventually get your license to be a Powered hero, and you will have to prove yourself by bumbling around in a series of adventures, pitting yourself against some of the nastiest gangs in town. You will also get entangled with other heroes, although the line separating a hero and a villain may be blurred in many instances.
You can create any hero - or even anti-hero, if you wish. Whether you are playing as Trixie the law-abiding by-the-book hero or Moxie the self-serving mercenary hero, however, the story arc remains the same even if some of the choices you are offered allow some cosmetic changes in the story line. Whether you are gay, lesbian, chaste, into necrophilia, whatever - the hero Black Magic will always try to get into your bloomers. What is really annoying is that you will fail and bungle up nearly all the way to the end, no matter what your choices are. This perpetually unchanging story line drastically reduces the replay value of this gamebook. What's the point, when the only real impact your choices make is restricted to perhaps a few altered lines of conversation or some variations in a few paragraphs that make no impact on the overall story?
It's a shame that any of the more old-school Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks offer far more genuine options than this new-generation interactive gamebook, because the story by itself is actually entertaining despite the player character often being forced into making a mess out of everything. Mr Sergi has a nice way of putting clichés together in a way that feels fresh and interesting. There are some entertaining one-liners here and some elements, like Black Magic's source of power, can give rise to interesting moral dilemmas if the player character's decision had mattered in the overall scheme of things. Thus, this one would have made a far better conventional story than a gamebook.
At the end of the day, it's all about expectations. If you want something that really offers you the power to make decisions that impact the story, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a pleasant diversion, this one may suit the bill. Just don't expect much in terms of replay value, as every run of the story will be the same, apart from some superficial changes here and there.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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