Stop making me cry, Heart’s Medicine!
Developer: Blue Giraffe
Genre: Story Rich Time Management
Type: Single Player
Release date: May 23, 2017
We all have our own experiences with mobile apps. A lot of them are bad, some are so-so, and there are a few hidden gems here and there. Often only the big and well-known companies are trusted with keeping the quality of mobile games. But when you find one that is great, it is an amazing feeling, even more so when it makes it to PC. That’s especially true with games from Blue Giraffe.
The third installment in the Heart’s Medicine series is finally out: Heart’s Medicine – Hospital Heat.
The game opens up to Little Creek Hospital on fire as we see a news reporter on the scene. We’re soon greeted with scenes of the major characters: Connor rescuing children, Chance saving Sophia, and Allison coming in by helicopter. This builds up to the point where just as Allison has an entry to the hospital, she is knocked through a hole, leaving us with a cliffhanger and our own thoughts of what events might have led to the hospital catching on fire.
We start straight off from where the second game ended. Allison is still in her internship, and we get to see more departments of the hospital. Where you had the Ward, Pharmacy, ER, Radiology, and Surgery departments in Time to Heal, here there are new ones as well: Pediatrics, Pathology, Burn-Unit, Maternity Ward, Intensive Care, and Psychiatry. This game leads away from Allison needing to work her way up to a department, and instead focuses on family, a love triangle, and revenge, including Allison’s problems with mother issues and seeing her teenage self. We even have a department solely focused on a flashback for a character we barely saw, but who has a role in explaining the events occurring in the hospital.
In my review of the second game I said you do not need to play the first instalment, as there is little continuity, and I stand by that statement. But to fully enjoy this game, you should play, or at least watch someone play, the second instalment, Time to Heal. This game not only starts right after the events that took place in the second game, but also mentions a lot that happened. Even some actions that did not seem important at the time come back to bite you, and you would not understand why unless you know the story from Time to Heal.
As with the previous instalment, the gameplay helps drive the story, with a story segment before and after each shift, and sometimes something story related happening during your shift as well. There’s always a steady flow of patients, with difficulty increasing as you progress, as you need to correctly assign them and see what they need you to do. Once you queue up items or actions, Allison’s speed is important, as she picks up the items and treats the patients. Depending on the item, which can need to be restocked, need two parts, or need time to be prepared, there are different levels of interaction. Some actions require you to perform some touch input, such as moving a slider or completing a minigame. If you do these actions fast enough, you receive a quick time bonus for assigning, treatment (and if you chain, a chain bonus), and checkout. Your score is based on how many hearts you score with your patients.
However, there are some new features in this instalment. What came as a surprise to me is that the hearts over each patient’s head are determined by what they need, rather than the set amount of hearts all patients had in the previous game. Some patients can have three hearts and be super easy, but then someone can come in with what seems like a million hearts and need a lot of help. This in turn makes the game easy and hard at the same time. It’s easy to get three stars this time around as some patients have more impact on your score than others. When patients with more hearts come in, indicating that they need a lot of help, fewer patients come in overall. But this also means that it is harder later on.
These changes make the game more about time management for sure. To balance out the need to constantly transfer the patients, the developers added a chance that a patient will need multiple treatments at one station. So, keeping this in mind, having multiple people waiting on their treatments and waiting to be assigned can be stressful. Juggling a way to get all the quick bonuses, or even just to get to patients before they start losing hearts, as you try to treat everyone else and get items is very stressful. It is even more stressful with certain challenges. One of the hardest is the challenge where you need to do a minigame to get a collect a certain amount of hearts. Where I remember it being slack and giving a couple extra in Time to Heal just in case you fail, in this one you have to get all of them correct. And while you do not need to quickly treat everyone to get three stars, it can still be stressful given how important it is to get golden hearts.
The game includes items you can buy to make the patients wait longer or be more patient, and these become important. It might not seem like it, especially if you didn’t need them much in the previous game, but this game can be brutal and you’ll need all the help you can get — especially the item that sends patients to gain hearts and makes them willing to wait.
The challenges have also changed since the previous game. Of course the story-based challenges will be different, and those based on minigames now need to be completed perfectly, but the challenge levels are different, too. Each department contains the same challenge for the most part, with almost every level having a janitor challenge, where you need to clean up various spills (they do mix this up towards the end); a pure Oliver the guinea pig finding challenge; a challenge where your score deteriorates; a pure minigame challenge where you earn scores by how well you do while it throws minigames from your current department at you left and right; and a Delicious Emily level where you serve customers in the hospital canteen. This is interesting to see this as it is different to the previous game and seems new at first. But then you see that each level has the same thing over and over. It also does not help that a number of minigames are too slow to get the maximum hearts indicated.
The minigames are still my favourite, keeping up the level of interactivity from the previous instalment as they persist through the 10 shifts. Each minigame has its own distinct audio and different levels of difficulty. I do appreciate how no old minigames were used. And there is one minigame that has you adjusting hospital beds that they actually programmed to move outside of the minigame, which I thought was cool. So if you change the position of one, you will see that it reflects what you did in the minigame once you get out of it.
What will happen after the hospital is burnt down? With a next instalment promised, who knows!?
+ Even better storytelling
+ Audio and music even better
+ Art style
Heart’s Medicine – Hospital Heat is great to play through and see the story, which amps up the drama as we get to see Allison in her teens and see her mother. There is also a love triangle, but this can be iffy considering there is no proper transition for some parts. The visuals are as eye catching as before, with some people having some weird clashing at times. And I did not at all see any crying moments suddenly hitting me hard! If you like casual games or Time to Heal, this is a great series to get into.