Heart’s Medicine – Season One is a must-have for time management game fans.
GameHouse Eindhoven (formerly Zylom) simply knows how to create wonderful and entertaining time management games. This is proven again by Heart’s Medicine – Season One, the newest game by the developers of the beloved Emily’s series. A charming and unique storyline, top-notch production values, and an overall fantastic gaming experience make this game a must-have for every time management game fan.
The player follows Allison Heart, a young woman who became interested in becoming a doctor after saving a man’s life during a horrible accident. But there is more to her story than the player first assumes. Some years later she starts her residency at the hospital of her mentor John, assisting in five different stations including general diagnosis, the laboratory, and paediatrics. Heart’s Medicine features 25 levels, which does not sound much, but you will need three to four hours to beat them – and that’s not counting the game’s three difficulty levels that cater to every type of player.
Heart’s Medicine shares some features with the Emily’s games but it’s far from being a carbon copy, and both games end up feeling very different in the end. the goal of Heart’s Medicine is to treat patients varying in age, gender and what treatment they need. The health of each patient is indicated by the hearts above his or her head. The healthier a patient, the more hearts you earn by cashing a patient out, and earning those hearts also constitutes your goal for each level.
The departments highly differ in look and tasks, which makes Heart’s Medicine – Season 1 very rich in variety. In contrast to the Emily series, the game is dominated by mini-games that improve a patient’s health, which is somewhat similar to Operation Mania, but blends in with the game very well, especially because time stops while you are playing these games. In the paediatrics department, for example, you have to navigate foreign bodies out of a patient without touching the walls; in the lab you have to reassemble broken bones; and in prenatal diagnosis you have to correct your patient’s yoga practices. Those mini-games are extremely unique and they never become boring because mini-games change in each department, ergo after five shifts.
What makes Heart’s Medicine highly motivating are not only the upgrades and expert goals, but also the trophies that will fill Allison’s bureau, the “gamehouse objects” that can be found in some levels, and the cute guinea pig that shows up in every level but at different places. Furthermore your performance in the mini-games is rated, too, so that there is a lot of stuff you have to consider to finish a level perfectly. Apart from that there are also special tasks in every level that are combined with the storyline in a wonderful and convincing way. Sometimes you have to collect cookies that are scattered throughout the room, in another level you have to treat an emergency patient individually by performing certain movements and clicks with your mouse.
Those emergencies are extremely exciting, and some more of them would have been welcome. Furthermore it is stunning how many thought the developers have obviously put into the creation of this title again, particularly with regards to tiny charming details, the storyline, and the characters. The staff is really interesting and it will be exciting to get to know the rest of the staff in possible sequels. Apart from that it is also noteworthy that not all parts of the storyline are finished, which makes Heart’s Medicine all the more realistic. This richness is even increased by the wonderful graphics and animations. The characters look very distinct, move very smoothly, and the rooms and scenes are drawn rather perfectly.
All in all GameHouse Eindhoven is on a very good way to redefine the time management genre. Both the last titles of the Emily-series and Heart’s Medicine prove that connecting time management elements, puzzles, hidden objects, and a great storyline closely results in a very satisfying and original gaming experience. If general traditions such as fixed shifts (levels) and upgrades would be abandoned for more coherent and free gameplay Heart’s Medicine could really become a very interesting and original series in the future. As of now it already is one of the best options you can find in the time management genre.