Review #028: 911 Operator (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewed By: Frank W.
Developed By: Jutsu Games
Published By: SONKA
Release Date: 10.26.2018
Download 911 Operator from the Nintendo eShop here.
911....What's Your Emergency?
911 Operator is a game that I believe may have an audience, but I have to say, I am not in it. This game places you in the role of an emergency dispatcher, where you receive emergency 911 calls and dispatch law enforcement and emergency vehicles to help solve the problems. Of course, the job duties may be a little glorified, because I doubt that real-life dispatchers have access to the editing of the loadout of officers, medics and firemen, or have any involvement with the hiring of new personnel or spending of the budget. I am sure this is done in an effort to add more to the gameplay, but from my experience with it, it was too little too late.
Time is of the Essence
The bulk of the gameplay takes place on a static city map. You have icons for police, medics, and firemen, as well as icons for other various other issues that pop up. It uses a simple system where you select your units and click where you would like them to go. The city has fire stations, hospitals, and police stations that your respective units will have to interact with during various situations. You must return injured victims and police units to the hospital before they can be sent to sort out another situation, so you must take into account the kind of incident to which you’re responding, and what kind of consequences it may have.
911 Operator is time and unit management HEAVY. You have active control of the passage of time, so you can speed up to have your orders play out, or pause during hectic times to ensure that you distribute your units to the correct areas and plan how to attack all of the incidents arising. It almost feels like a real-time strategy game in which you are tackling enemy units that spawn around the field, and you have to distribute the correct kinds of assault units to defeat them.
Prepare to Multi-Task
This doesn’t sound like a TON right now, right? But, when you power on 911 Operator, you are met with a screen urging you to wear headphones to better simulate the experience of being a dispatcher. This is because you must actively listen to the chatter you hear over the emergency radio for clues on how to handle the situations, and to determine the next main mechanics of the game, which will really push your multitasking skills to the limit.
In addition to the incidents that spawn on their own, you also have live calls that you must pick up within a certain time frame before they expire. On the right side of your screen, once you accept the call, you will have various questions to ask the caller about their situation. You must determine if it is a situation that requires intervention, and if so, you then have to determine what kinds of units to dispatch, which creates an interesting dynamic. While you are hurried to try and manage all of the other goings-on of the game, you are also trying to decode the situations that are ongoing and avoid wasting time asking unnecessary questions that aren’t going to contribute to your information gathering. I ran into situations in which I was able to gather that I needed to send an ambulance to help someone, and it turned out there was also someone being violent at the scene. So, I was essentially punished by having to wait for the EMT to get there, and then being advised that the police will need to be dispatched before the situation would be considered completed.
Thrown to the Wolves
Regarding which units to send to which incidents, it always felt like something else would pop up and I didn’t feel I had a way to prepare for it. I ran into a lot of confusion, and I felt that this wasn’t properly explained in the tutorial. Maybe I missed a clue on the radio chatter, but once I finished the tutorial and thought I had a feel for the game flow, I went into the first level, and it was a CONSTANT game of catch up… the whole time! Being a fan of Dark Souls, and a huge fan of the roguelike genre, I am no stranger to a game being difficult or throwing you into the heat of things. But, where practice and perseverance will get you back on your feet and making progress in those games, I was never able to truly embrace the flow of 911 Operator.
I felt generally confused, hurried, and feeling like I was missing something crucial the whole time, and just couldn’t shake the feeling of being one step behind where the game wanted me to be. I was never once able to feel like I was satisfied with my performance or how I tackled a level. It was like I skirted by just barely, which led to me not really feeling motivated to keep playing. This is something I consider to be a vital quality in a game.
Just like I stated at the start, I really believe there are people out there - the kind of people addicted to chaotic management - who would LOVE this game! Maybe this really is what it’s like in terms of how much is going on and how much multitasking is required of a 911 dispatcher? As a gaming experience, however, I wouldn’t say that I personally had fun with 911 Operator. If you have dreams of being a 911 Dispatcher, or if you love multi-tasking heavy simulator/time management games, check this out! Otherwise, I would call this game a hard sell. You can feel the developers put some love into this - I would think maybe a family member was a 911 dispatcher - but it was not able to strike any heavy chords with me.
911 Operator for the Nintendo Switch gets a 3/10 from me, but if this sounds like the kind of game you would enjoy, don’t let my personal score scare you away. For me though, they called the 911 Operator to report that I was face down on the ground from boredom and frustration.
Final Score: 3/10
Download 911 Operator from the Nintendo eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided By MMPR