If you’ve ever considered or been tempted to accept a hectic job, then 911 Operator is the ultimate test to put your ambitions under stress. From putting out fires to preventing fatalities that would, otherwise, be natural consequences of your victims' unattended injuries, you are that very first response to a City’s most pressing emergencies, and whether or not you are prepared, you’ll have to deal with each unconditionally. And that’s what makes the operator’s job stressful, or if you're the type to see the glass half full, captivating.
I'll admit, launching the simulation from Steam was a bit of an overwhelming experience, but I’m also glad to report that with time, the learning curve felt manageable and the expertise acquired in savoir faire, an organic experience. 911 Operator's objectives are straightforward at first: you're in charge of incoming calls, and you start off with 12 emergency vehicles to deploy and save the day. Everyday. Prior to undertaking tasks, you’re also given the option to collect additional resources first and shop for vehicles or equipment you may need. Such options, to grow your capacity to handle multiple patients, or to fine-tune how efficient you are by adding members to the virtual staff that's in charge of transportation.
After completing a duty you’ll be handed a report. It sounds bureaucratically dry, I know.
It isn’t. It’s your reward, something governments seldom have in the books for their bureaucrats. But this is, after all, the wonderful universe of video gaming where all is possible and the feed for capital gain is real, only not for a retirement home in sunny Florida but for you to purchase... additional units for municipalities. And early on, reaching into your purse to buff a squad up feels unnecessary.
Many of you won't, and will carry on with a false sense of confidence.
You might be warranted in such behavior, indeed. The fact is, missions initially aren’t difficult, at least not enough to incentivize players to go out of their way and prepare for incoming alerts. But then I hesitated... Maybe... Maybe the developers at Jutsu Games built in me a sense of confidence to better inflict upon my otherwise morally-sound character a discomforting feeling of guilt -- and one to accrue overtime. You see, lacking access to equipment and overlooking the option to grow your team's capacity gradually leads you to mediocre performances, and people suffering. If not outright dying, and that's where 911 Operator shines: it excels in guilt-tripping you, through a process that feels as much as a professional experience as it is an emotional journey into a very demanding line of work. Calls will gradually overwhelm you, and responsibilities will creep up on you, together simulating that feeling I would suspect a government employee to feel when left at their desk and sensing a burden of responsibility or, more problematically, guilt derived from being unprepared. From not being able to provide an adequate response.
That fatal death is, on you.
There were times I couldn’t answer. The phone rang but I couldn't answer. I felt that inside. It isn't okay I told myself, but in 911 Operator, it is. Oddly, it's what makes the game fun. On the downside, traction will be lost for some when time becomes of the essence. That's because you can pause or forward calls and actions. Admittedly, that takes away from some of the realism quite a few of us rightfully expect from simulators, but personally, pausing saved my butt a few times, and I, a player like but also unlike many others, was glad a feature did.
On the other hand, realism is found where it most importantly needs to be: story-telling.
In a fragmented style perhaps, but in story-telling nonetheless. Simulation purists might be disappointed in the ability to control time, but they like everyone else will surely appreciate the acting that went into play, in order to create a lifelike sense of distress through faceless voices on the other end of the line.
Then is the educational value at the heart of 911 Operator. Features such as first-aid instructions might come in handy one day, who knows, should the time come for you to intrepidly shut down your gaming rig and valiantly undertake the intimidating task of interacting with the outside world.
Last but not least is the fun factor that the studio wisely plugged into its game so that 911 Operator be not a job but a game - and that required a fair amount of sadism toward the player -- which we appreciate. It's clear to me now that the Jutsu devs were bent on messing with my head. What I might have thought was a prank call, for example, could actually have been legit... Someone might have needed a police sent their way. That straight away, but I wasn't taking them seriously. Or, maybe wait... it was a prank call. Sigh, you get my point: I'm still not sure. Yet it's these very shades of gray that make 911 Operator an engaging experience, and one loaded with intense decision-making gameplay.
As for 911 Operator's visual design, it simply is well put together.
The user interface is clearly designed with minimalism at its core, not to over-complicate or even distract. The bulk of the smaller details incorporated you'll end up finding essential to consider during your playthroughs. On the downside, there isn't much of a soundtrack to accompany them, and were I to be forgiving, I'd argue it isn't fitting for an operator's working environment.
911 Operator is a unique game, to say the least. Although not the simulator to earn praises from die-hard purists of the genre, it's an experimental experience that will be well worth their time and money, and the more casual strategists' as well.