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A compelling hero story in broad strokes, August 26, 2020
I was interested to play this game, as I know that on one hand it's been one of Choice of Games' best-selling titles for years, and that on the other hand its frequently vilified by a subset of the Choice of Games forums.
It's one of the oldest Choice of Games entries, the fourth one ever made. I've played a lot of the old ones recently, and have a lot more variation between them in length, use of stats, linearity, and romances as the company hadn't settled on a house style yet.
And this game has a lot of peculiarities as well, but manages to be more polished than many early games. The stats are clearly communicated. In fact, they are spelled out in the game. Your choices matter; occasionally you are presented with binary choices, but one is grayed out. That doesn't mean (as some steam reviewers thought) that you never have that option; it means that the game is keeping track of your past actions.
One peculiarity in particular is that there is a single forced narrative of who you are and what you feel. That doesn't really change from playthrough to playthrough; you're always the child of disgraced, incarcerated heroes; you always experience the same trials and betrayals; you always have the same powers. There's only one romantic option, and its fairly forced on you, the game describing in detail how you feel about the other sexually, one of things I found least enjoyable.
What changes, then, is how you get through these opportunities. Do you follow justice or fame? Are you defensive or offensive? Do you have hero worship or work on your own?
So I see why it's popular and I see why people on the forums don't like it. It doesn't fit the ideal of the current, refined in-house style of Choice of Games, with plethoras of backgrounds, branches and romances. But it's also a compelling story with good emotional involvement.
In my playthrough, as a hetero male, all of the female villains and the main romantic option were consistently described as sexy, busty, working in prostitution or seduction. I didn't find that enjoyable, and I considered taking off a star for that. But I believe that many people will enjoy playing this game, and for that reason I'm giving it 5 stars.
Edit: On a side note, after I played it last night, I had terrifying superhero dreams based on it that woke me up with fright. I guess its descriptions are pretty vivid!
I received a review copy of this game.