A little over a week ago now, I reviewed Choice of Games’s Choice of the Dragon, a nifty little text-based choose your own adventure game where you get to play as the dragon in a fantasy story. In an awesome turn of events, CoG got in touch with us to see if we’d like to review another of their games, the recently released Mecha Ace. While Choice of the Dragon was firmly based in fantasy, Mecha Ace is, as the name might suggest, hard sci fi.
The game follows you, an ace pilot and commander of a lance (squadron) of mecha pilots, as you fight for a rebel force against a tyrannical Empire. Along the way, all sorts of things can happen: you might deploy on secret missions, get captured and interrogated by Imperial forces, fly a super-efficient prototype mecha, duel an ace enemy pilot, or fire a superweapon into the Imperial fleet. The choices you make along the way dictate your interactions with your lance, your superiors, and your enemies. It’s a relatively long story, but it’s got plenty of action to keep things moving.
As with the dragon game, this game allows you to focus on building your character in a certain way. What are you fighting for? The thrill of the hunt? Revenge for a lost family member? Duty? Are you a melee fighter or do you prefer ranged combat? How do you feel about the war? Are you standoffish with your colleagues or do you care about their personal lives? Showing more interest allows you to pursue romantic storylines with certain characters. I discovered this the hard way; the character I created the first time through was a more duty-bound woman than my second playthrough’s was, and I went through the whole game without romancing anyone. I was so annoyed with myself for this that I actually went back and played through a second time with the specific goal of romancing one or more of the NPCs. (I was successful that time.)
My one major complaint about the game is that I’m not sure if a story about fighting robots in space is one well-suited to a text-only media. This may be a matter of personal preference, but I sometimes felt bogged down in mecha-related jargon, and found myself wishing for something a little more visual. That said, I never had trouble following the story or felt like it wasn’t engaging.
As with the dragon game, there are many options for customization as you play, and they encourage diversity. While you can only choose from male or female in regards to gender, you can choose from names that are representative of a variety of races and cultures. The game also defaults to bisexuality for its main character, although you may choose to customize the genders of romanceable NPCs as well:
The NPCs themselves are also racially diverse: your cocky second-in-command is of Middle Eastern descent, the anxious young bridge controller is Japanese, one of your commanding officers is Chinese, and the chief of the hangar crew is Black. This is a nice change from a lot of media set in space that pretends aliens are a reasonable substitute for human racial diversity.
You can play through the first three chapters of the game for free on Choice of Games’s website, and get the full story for $3.99. It’s also available as an app in the mobile store of your choice. When I first started playing, I was concerned that the price might be a little steep for a game like this, but in the end it’d cost you more to buy a choose your own adventure book, and this is more interactive and personalized than any CYOA book I’ve read. Furthermore, the variety of options for customization mean it’s still very engaging on subsequent playthroughs. I’d definitely recommend checking out the free trial, and if you like what you see there, you’ll enjoy the full game for sure. Happy piloting, my robot-flying friends!