Gamertell Review: Bionic Heart for PC (also Mac and Linux)

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Bionic Heart

Title: Bionic Heart
Price: $19.99
System(s): Windows PC (also for Mac and Linux)
Release Date: July 27, 2009
Publisher (Developer): Tycoon Games (Tycoon Games)
ESRB Rating: N/A. Since there are some mature themes and violence mentioned, I’d say it’s best for ages 16+. (The site recommends 14+.) It contains the sort of situations you’d see on network TV after 7pm and on cable TV.
Pros: 24 endings, an interesting story, voice acting, available for PC, Mac and Linux, great character art, there’s an image gallery to unlock, skipping options for text you’ve already seen and multiple save slots. Dialogue is pretty realistic as well. Relationship scales below major characters after making choices so you can see what the effect is. Interactive mode where you can go to multiple places or do multiple things instead of following a strict path.
Cons: The voice acting pretty good, but sometimes the hero Luke sounds a bit monotone.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up, 90/100, A-, * * * * out of 5

In the past, visual novels haven’t really been one of the most popular genres. Their popularity and fanbase was mainly centered in Japan. That’s starting to change now, with the translation of many Japanese visual novels and creation of original, English language ones.

That’s where Tycoon Games comes in. For a while now, the company has been creating visual novel style games, like Summer Session, Heileen and even Spirited Heart. The real trick is creating visual novels that aren’t just about reading text, and Tycoon Games succeeds in delivering games that offer sufficient choice and challenge. Their latest offering, Bionic Heart, is its best endeavor yet.

Bionic Heart

Global warming, a possible killer robot and life in 2099.

Things aren’t what they used to be in 2099. Global warming has completely changed the face of the planet, causing it to be plagued by a perpetual rainstorm. Solar panels above the clouds help provide energy to humanity. Real food is rare, and instead people eat flavored mousses because there’s no sun to grow and sustain crops or animals. Robots are also commonplace.

Luke Black is the star of Bionic Heart. He’s a fairly typical man, a programmer at a nanotechnology research company called Nanotech with a fiance named Helen, a nice apartment, a best friend named Tom and a pretty decent life. Well, considering how everyone has to live, it’s pretty good. But things with Helen aren’t so great after 10 years of being together. Something’s going on with Tom. Not to mention a mysterious, possibly dangerous, robot busted into his place and is now a squatter there. It’s up to the player to decide how the story goes and what fate awaits Luke.

Bionic Heart

The visual novel for people who wouldn’t normally like visual novels.

Bionic Heart is easily Tycoon Games’ best visual novel so far. First of all, there’s full voice acting. And, even better, that voice acting is pretty darn good. The only voice I didn’t care for initially was Luke, as I thought it sounded a bit unemotional and monotone. However, given the character’s circumstances, Luke would have an emotionless and monotone tone more often than not.

Players are also given quite a bit of control over Luke and his actions. Instead of following the strict, visual novel structure, it borrows some ideas from adventure games. You can choose which locations to visit, to investigate areas, to use or not use items, who to talk to and so on. It keeps Bionic Heart players from feeling like they’re forced down a certain path.

There are also relationship bars whenever you talk to people. This lets you see instant results of your conversation choices, and help better plot what path you’re sending Luke down.

Of course there are also the Tycoon Games visual novel staples included, like the ability to skip seen dialogue, multiple save slots and great character art.

Bionic Heart

Tycoon Games’ best visual novel so far.

Bionic Heart is a really enjoyable game with an intriguing story to it, something that’s appealing to both visual novel and adventure fans of any gender. The story’s a bit darker and more mature than the other Tycoon Games titles, which is good as it adds more variety to the lineup. It’s fun and easy to play, and the 24 endings in the commercial version guarantee plenty of retail value. If you give Bionic Heart a try, even just the demo version, you won’t be disappointed.

Site [Bionic Heart]

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