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About the Story
Get to work early, don't get too angry and get your raise.
20th Place - 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2010)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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I usually take a star off of most annoying games precisely because they are annoying. But this is a game about a man where anything at all can set him off.
The game makes UNDO act differently, and tricks people who thought of other solutions to puzzles. Its puzzle solutions become increasingly unfair, although some of the most unfair ones are optional.
Sort of like 9:05 played straight, you wake up before work, worried about getting their on time, and have to go through your daily tasks before work starts.
I found it more frustrating than enjoyable. But isn't that the point?
In Heated you play a messy guy with a messy life who needs to get to work early, and in a more than presentable state, to secure a raise from the boss. This is a small adventure with a handful of domestic problems for you to solve in a finite number of moves. Things will go wrong frequently, and when they do, your heat-o-meter climbs in response to the aggravations. Get back on track and you will cool off a bit, hence the game's title.
The production is not polished (there are typos and incidences of inconsistent programming) but the important thing is that it works as a whole, however modest, and thus is fun if you enjoy figuring out how to optimise your path through a game's obstacles in the fewest number of moves. There are some Babel Fish-like moments à la Hitchhiker's Guide and some cute jokes like (Spoiler - click to show)the move-eater that your backyard turns out to be.
The game is too small for its inconsistencies to really mess you up, and its size is a plus in terms of the gameplay style -- as soon as you learn a better way of doing things, you can replay through an optimal path in a matter of seconds or minutes. This doesn't mean you can't save the game, but UNDO gets you further het up.
One problem with Heated only becomes apparent once you've completed it - (Spoiler - click to show)that the game's small scale mitigates against your heat level really having much of an effect. But the idea that life might work to sabotage us in little ways when we have a deadline comes through clearly.
Heated is a game set in a boring apartment which the author describes as "meditative" and "sparsely decorated" to make us think his creative use of underimplementation was intentional. There's some mildly amusing writing, albeit not without its mechanical errors, and some unintuitive and unrealistic puzzle design. Then again, I'm a pretty productive member of society, and the PC in this game is a slacker who probably deserves to not get the raise that they're hoping to receive. Possibly I just can't relate.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the plot (this isn't a spoiler, it's something mentioned right after you start the game): you are already on warning at work, haven't had a raise in forever, and need to get to work early, looking sharp, and finish a report to put yourself in line for a raise. I'm sorry, but this is not the sort of escapism I'm looking for when I sit down to play interactive fiction. There's nothing to be learned here, no big aHA moments, just a not terribly engaging puzzle fest.
The game's one schtick is that your stress level goes up and down depending on stimuli. That could have been kind of fun, and is a good idea in and of itself, but the event context and setting in which it was used simply did not engage me enough to make me stick around to see if Peers did something interesting with it.