I don’t have too much to say in this review, which is not in any way a reflection on the quality of Choices That Matter: And Their Heroes Were Lost. It’s just that it’s the third in a series that share the same structure and qualities, and while it has a vastly different narrative, there’s just not that much new to say about it. Nonetheless, you do really need to play And Their Heroes Were Lost.
It does have the most instantly riveting opening chapter of the three. You play as some kind of superior being that has woken up to find themselves chained and imprisoned, with no idea who they are or how they got there. The first task before figuring out your identity, however, is to deal with the immediate threat, and that means escaping. Luckily there are some sympathetic eyes, ears and hands with you in the prison, and soon enough the prison break is on. At that point some kind of computer AI that is running inside your brain turns itself on and starts chatting to you, and the mystery only deepens from there.
And Their Heroes Were Lost follows the same format as its predecessors. There are dozens and dozens of decisions to make throughout the story, with each of those decisions slightly shifting the needle on where things will end up. It’s impossible to know exactly how the story will play out, so you just let your own conscience and sense of logic play out, and at the end of each chapter you get told how many other people forged the same path as you. It’s especially fun when you discover that you’re an outlier and clearly look at things with a different perspective compared to other people.
If you’ve played one of the old Choose-your-own-Adventure gamebooks, then you’ll know the experience that is roughly ahead of you. The main difference being that you can’t “die” in the story. The game’s quite up-front about this. Not every path through the story is exactly positive or pleasant, but you’re not going to end up with a “Game Over” from a single bad decision, and in this way the Choices That Matter series are significantly more modern and less frustrating than those Choose-your-own-Adventure books (oh how I howled and cheated every time I turned to the wrong page in those things).
Structually, the game uses the same font and ambient soundtrack as its predecessors. The font, being 90 per cent of the game’s visual component, is blessently pleasant on the eyes, and And Their Heroes Were Lost has a different background hue, which I actually think suits the text best of all. The soundtrack, however, is an incomplete loop, and the loop itself is too short. It’s hardly a quality to care about becauese it is such a minimal feature within the game, but it just goes to show how singlar the focus is on this series in the writing. What is impressive is that you can backtrack the text, but only to the last decision made. There are no take-backs to Choices That Matter, which is why the series is titled so, and not “Experiment With Choices Until You’re Happy With The Results.” That title just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Of course, if you can remember the approximate approach to decision making that you adopt through the game, Choices That Matter has so many decisions, each with different narrative paths, that each game is highly replayable. One odd thing I have noticed, though, is that because there are so many decisions to make, I have a habit of forgetting individual questions, and I often accidentally lead myself down the same path on a second replay, until I’ve ended up in the same demographic at the end of a chapter. At least I know my moral grounding is consistent, I guess.