Ever since I was a kid I have always been a fan of simulation/tycoon games. Two of my favorite games growing up were the Roller Coaster Tycoon series and Theme Hospital. For a while the simulation/tycoon genre kind of went out of style until it was brought back by the indie game industry. This brings me to Rescue HQ – The Tycoon where you run your own emergency services company. You are responsible for providing support to the city by running your own fire department, police department, and ambulance services. As I was a big fan of Theme Hospital I was really intrigued by Rescue HQ – The Tycoon as I hoped it could recreate what I have always loved about the simulation strategy genre. Rescue HQ – The Tycoon is a fun and interesting take on the simulation strategy genre that should please fans of the genre.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank stillalive studios and Aerosoft GmbH for the review copy of Rescue HQ – The Tycoon used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In Rescue HQ – The Tycoon you are responsible for running a for profit emergency services company. You are given a plot of land and some money. You need to build and expand your company in order to offer a variety services to help with the city’s emergencies. There are three distinct branches that you will have to build up at your headquarters. First are firefighters. Firefighters are mostly sent out to deal with fires and other related disasters. Next are the police who respond to public disturbances. In addition to responding to calls police can handle locking up criminals they catch while on call as well as preparing paperwork in order to make some additional money. Finally there are the ambulance services. After handling medical calls you can bring injured civilians back to your headquarters and treat their condition in order to earn some additional cash.
While building up your headquarters you will receive emergency calls. All emergencies need to be completed within a certain amount of time or your headquarters will lose reputation with the city. When you pull up each emergency you will get an overview of what happened. You are then given a list of personnel and equipment that are recommended for the call. Each of the recommended resources you send to an emergency improves the odds of successfully completing the emergency. You choose which employees, vehicles, and equipment you want to send to the emergency and then send them off. When your employees return from the emergency they will have either succeeded or failed. If they failed the emergency you will lose some reputation which will lower the amount of money you will receive from completing future emergencies. If you are successful you will receive some money and reputation. You might also pick up some prisoners or people in need of medical attention which can be used to earn some additional money.
The money you receive for completing emergencies can then be used in order to improve your headquarters. I have to give Rescue HQ – The Tycoon a lot of credit for its building mechanics as they work surprisingly well. There is a small learning curve in figuring out how to design your headquarters, but actually building it is pretty easy. Building begins with choosing which type of room you would like to build. All of the items in the game are broken down into a room type. These items can only be placed in a room of the same type. To build a room you select your desired room type and drag it to the size and location you desire. You can then put in a door(s) and any equipment you would like. Placing equipment is simple as you just choose what you want to place, rotate it if you want, and then place it where you want. All of the objects in the game have foot icons on them which show which areas have to be accessible for employees to use the equipment.
If you are unhappy with the room you designed or want to renovate your headquarters after you have acquired some more money and equipment, it is really easy to do so. If you are unhappy with the size or placement of your room you can just drag over a room with a different type of room and it will overwrite what the room previously was. If you are unhappy with the placement of items you just use the selection tool to move the object to another location. The simplicity is really appreciated as I found myself updating and moving things around my headquarters quite a bit as it expanded. You might end up wasting a little money by regularly updating your design but it is really easy to do and usually necessary as your operations expand.
While money is important to keep your headquarters running, reputation is just as important at times. Reputation acts like a currency that is used to purchase new upgrades/equipment. At the beginning of each campaign you can usually handle most emergencies with basic equipment. As you progress through the campaign though you will encounter ever increasingly difficult emergencies. These require advanced equipment to complete. You use the reputation you earn to purchase new equipment that you can add to your headquarters to make these emergencies easier to handle. Choosing which upgrade you would like to purchase can be an important decision as at least early in the game you won’t have enough reputation to purchase everything you want.
Your equipment and headquarters may be important but your employees might be the most important resource as as you can’t get much accomplished without them. The employee aspect of Rescue HQ – The Tycoon is pretty similar to your typical tycoon game. In addition to giving your employees the tools they need to succeed at their job, you need to meet their other needs as well. You need to build bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and relaxation areas to keep them in shape to do their jobs and prevent them from quitting. In addition to meeting your employee’s needs you also need to actively recruit more workers of each discipline as emergencies tend to grow in frequency and demands. You don’t want to have to decline handling an emergency because you don’t have enough employees available. After recruiting employees you can can train them up in order to gain additional skills so they are more productive.
That is a brief overview of the mechanics of Rescue HQ – The Tycoon. For the most part it is pretty similar to a lot of other simulation strategy games. This is not a bad thing as Rescue HQ – The Tycoon is a good tycoon game. The mechanics are streamlined well and are pretty intuitive. The game could do slightly better explaining some of the mechanics, but otherwise the game is easy to play. While the gameplay is not going to convert someone who hates these type of games, I as a fan of the genre had a lot of fun playing the game. Rescue HQ – The Tycoon is the type of game that you don’t want to quit playing. Rescue HQ – The Tycoon may not be the best simulation strategy game ever made, but I would be honestly surprised if fans of this genre didn’t have quite a bit of fun with the game.
As far as how the game is structured, it currently consists of four campaigns/levels. The game has a basic and advanced mode for both Berlin and San Francisco. It might sound a little alarming that the game only has four campaigns. There might not be a lot of levels, but they are quite long. Each of the levels will take at least several hours or even longer if you are constantly pausing the game to make sure everything is perfect. Basically each campaign is setup where you are occasionally given random emergencies that you have to handle. These are interspersed with various set emergencies unique to the campaign you have chosen. In order to successfully complete a campaign you need to stay in business for a number of weeks (I believe six). If you stay in business for that long you have completed the campaign. You can then either continue with your current headquarters in an endless mode or you can move onto another campaign.
While the campaigns work well for the most part, it is one of the areas that I was a little disappointed with. Maybe it is just me but I was never a huge fan of sandbox modes in these types of simulation strategy games. I was always more of a fan of the missions as it gave you specific goals to try and accomplish in order to move onto the next mission. The campaigns in Rescue HQ – The Tycoon kind of feel like a mixture of a traditional level and a sandbox. The game gives you different objectives that you can complete, but they are somewhat optional as the only goal is to stay in business. I think the game could have benefited from a more structured level mode and included a separate sandbox mode. Hopefully this is something that gets added to the game in the future.
The lack of a more structured campaign mode has me a little worried about the game’s replay value. At this point I have played the game for quite a few hours and I am still really enjoying it. I fear that the game might get a little repetitive after I have played through the four campaigns though. As I said I have never been a huge fan of sandbox modes. Therefore I am a little worried that without more structured missions the game is going to feel like more of the same after a while. I still think you could get quite a bit of time out of the game, but I don’t know if it will have as much replay value as some tycoon games. One thing that encourages me though is that the game seems to have put a lot of effort into allowing players to mod the game using the Steam Workshop. I hope the game develops a community as I would like to really see what people can add to the game as it could add quite a bit of replay value to the game.
Before wrapping up I want to quickly address that I encountered a few bugs while playing the game. I want to preface this by saying that I was playing a pre-release version of the game. Therefore these bugs may have already been patched out of the game or may soon be fixed. The biggest bug I encountered in the game made it hard to interact with some of the items in my headquarters. For example the game seemed to think all of the objects in my headquarters where chairs. The only way to successfully select certain items was to have the camera at the right angle and choose the right part of the object to select it. Along with this particular bug there are a couple other minor bugs that can occasionally be annoying. I didn’t encounter any framerate issues while playing the game, but the game ended up using a lot of my computer’s resources even though my computer is quite a bit above the game’s recommended settings. If you have a powerful computer this shouldn’t be an issue, but if your computer is near the minimum settings you may encounter some framerate issues.
Rescue HQ – The Tycoon is a good simulation strategy game. I was curious how well a game where you run a police department, fire department, and ambulance service at the same time would work. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked quite a bit better than I expected. Basically the objective of the game is to build up your headquarters with new equipment while hiring and training your staff. You then send them out to emergencies in order to earn money and reputation to grow your headquarters. Anyone who has played one of these type of games before should have a good idea of what to expect. The reason that Rescue HQ – The Tycoon works so well is that it does a good job streamlining the mechanics making it easy to build the headquarters you desire. I had a lot of fun playing the game and fans of this genre should as well. I am a little concerned about the replay value as I wished the game used a more traditional mission based structure. There are also some small bugs that I hope will get fixed soon.
If you have never been much of a fan of tycoon/simulation strategy games, I don’t see Rescue HQ – The Tycoon changing your mind. People who enjoy this genre though and like the game’s premise should enjoy the game quite a bit. I would recommend that they pick up Rescue HQ – The Tycoon.