iOS Universal, Android •
Our old friend Peter Kossits went quiet for a bit after he released Baseball Highlights 2045 in 2016, following that up with a slew of updates including new content and an AI. Understandable, as he’s a one-man show whose main gig isn’t writing games in Unity not to mention having to put up with flack from yahoos over at BGG picking apart everything as if he were Blizzard or Firaxis.
Well, Peter is back on the App Store with a new release. This time its a solo card game that I’d only heard about because it might have one of the most interesting themes in all of gamedom. That game is Hostage Negotiator.
Hostage Negotiator is a game about, you guessed it, talking kidnappers into releasing their quarry. It uses a “hand-building” mechanism which is basically like a deck-builder only your entire deck is your hand. Thus, there’s no shuffling and waiting for that card you just bought to show up down the road. You buy it, it’s yours to play as you see fit.
Having not played before, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. There’s a fairly extensive tutorial, however, and I was up and running in short order. First of all, Peter’s gotten better at his craft. This game has more polish than BH2045 out of the gate, both UI and graphically. Secondly, this game is dark as hell. The tutorial mission has a terrorist holding 7 hostages. You win if less than three hostages get killed. Damn! It’s like Special Agents Johnson & Johnson were leading this negotiation. Actually, they were fine with losing 20-25% of the hostages so even they might have thought twice about the rules of Hostage Negotiator. Luckily, hostages are abstracted as cubes and we don’t have to watch Molly from Montana, who was just visiting LA to see her daughter, take a bullet in the head. Yes, I named my cubes and gave them backstories.
There’s a lot in this game that makes it more than a simple card flipper. Not only do the negotiations involve chucking dice, but the bad guys have demands that you’ll need to meet while playing cards to try and convince them to let one or more hostages go free. It’s a tense game, and the tension is heightened if you think about the theme for even a little bit.
I’m probably butchering the explanation here, so let me blurb this one out:
In Hostage Negotiator, you play the part of a law enforcement agent responsible for negotiating the release of hostages taken by an unscrupulous figure hell-bent on having his or her demands met.
Each turn in the game represents a conversation between you and the hostage taker. You’ll play cards and roll dice to increase conversation points, decrease the threat level, and release hostages. Hostage Negotiator uses a unique “hand-building” mechanism that puts cards you purchase directly in your hand for next turn rather than leaving you wondering when the cards will show up like in deck-building games.
In Hostage Negotiator there are multiple paths to victory, but the hostage taker has other plans. Will you try to calm him and get him to surrender? Will you stall and bide your time before sending in the team for a major extraction? How many hostages will you save? These are many of the exciting decisions you will make in a game of Hostage Negotiator!
Sounds good? It actually is, and could be a fantastic solo time waster on your Android or iPhone. I’ll try to put together a full review for next week, but you all know what a lazy bastard I am, so we’ll see.
No trailer for this one, so instead I give you the inimitable Marco Arnaudo’s review of the game from two years back.