Amber’s Airline – High Hopes is the first game in the Amber’s Airline series and this time, GameHouse tries out a new setting within the time-management gameplay: Flying. Well, the player doesn’t actually fly around but there are some chapters based within a plane as you serve your clients – which is trickier than it sounds. After playing a few games from the same publisher, the core-gameplay ended up being very familiar, but the story is where the game truly shines.
As usual with time management games, Amber’s Airline doesn’t only contain an interesting premise with addictive gameplay, but it also keeps its players engaged due to the story.
Amber’s Airline – High Hopes opens with an aeroplane crash. However, this accident happens in the future as you, the player, gets to rewind one month prior to the crash in order to play out the events leading up to this tragic situation. Our protagonist this time around is Amber, the titular character in the series, and throughout the game, we’re also introduced to a number of characters who are connected to her and the events. Amber loves working within the airport but it’s her dream to become a stewardess and fly around the world.
For her dream to come true she has to pass an exam, but that turns out to be harder than it seems as she was previously involved in a mysterious accident in the past and still has issues getting over the trauma.
First of all, I loved Amber as the protagonist as she’s portrayed as a strong female character. For example, although we can see that she obviously has problems with getting into the water (due to her trauma), she still tries her best in every situation. I’d even say that she seems like the kind of girl that doesn’t need to lean on someone else.
Just like the majority of these games, there’s an element of romance introduced within the narrative – Amber’s Airline isn’t any different. Whilst I am a sucker for romantic scenes, I found they weren’t really fitting within this entry – it honestly felt like I was watching a soap at times with Amber going back and forth between two different guys, which didn’t match with the rest of Amber’s image at all. The indecisiveness of Amber felt out of place, especially since she never really finds a solution to her problem, she just keeps both guys unaware that there is someone else involved, besides themselves.
However, despite the unusual romance aspect, I still liked the story and the way that her past is kept mysterious so the player doesn’t know what her actual trauma was, nor what caused it in the end. The only thing that is known is that it has something to do with water. Of course, I speculated that something terrible must have happened to affect her so much, and the game hints throughout the whole game that it involved someone important to her. Whilst one of the love interests seems to know what’s up with her, and what happened, the game keeps it a mystery until the end for the player.
That being said, I found Amber, besides my issue with her being in a love triangle, a pretty lovable character overall and I was very curious about what happened to her in the past.
When it comes to the gameplay, Amber’s Airline is similar to the other time-management games from GameHouse. There are sixty main-story stages plus, for every second stage, there is an additional challenge-stage, which makes ninety stages in total. You can reach one to three stars in the main story stages, based on how many points you get, as well as achieve two additional bonuses. One bonus is a task given to you, such as revise for your test between serving or finish with a number of stars, and the other one requires you to click on the mouse when he pops up throughout the level.
There is, however, no difficulty setting here so I felt like most of the gameplay was very easy, which also includes the mini-games. The mini-games not only pop-up within the level, such as weighing and labelling passengers luggage, but there are also bonus levels such as a ‘whack-a-mole’ game with the mouse!
One of the gameplay aspects which I found different to previous games I’ve played was that during the flight in the aeroplane, passengers are already sitting on their seats. Although this doesn’t seem like much, it means that you’ll be attending to people more than moving them around and seating them in specific places. This may sound like it would make the game easier, but I found these stages more hectic and intense than the previous stages.
Additionally, you can buy upgrades with coins that are obtainable through the main-story stages, upgrades that boosts your efficiency and customer satisfaction – making it a little less stressful the more you invest into your surroundings. In terms of earning the coins, every star gives the player 100.
Another new feature for this game is the addition of Amber’s diary, which you can customise. In order to buy different accessories to decorate the book, you use the diamonds which you obtain via completing tasks and the bonus stages. For the tasks within the main-story stages, you can earn one diamond, while you can earn up to three diamonds in a bonus stage. There are three options to choose from to decorate the outside of your diary, making it a little more personal to you. However, the main reason for the diary is the ability to read it!
Each page unlocks when you complete certain achievements, giving the player a small entry they can read through to know more about the background story of Amber and her feelings at that point in the narrative. After all, a diary is the most personal thing you can own. The diary is quite cute with stickers inside and drawings that made it a wonderful read.
Amber’s Airline – High Hopes is a charming time-management game with a very likeable protagonist, Amber. Although I found the love triangle quite unfitting with her character, I still liked Amber for her strongness and determination of pursuing her dreams. Whilst the first entry doesn’t tell their players a lot, that only makes me look forward to the next game to see how her romance will work out. Overall, Amber’s Airline – High Hopes has lovely characters with the gameplay being absolutely addictive. The only thing I thought was a negative was that it’s very easy at times due to the lack of a difficulty setting. Nonetheless, the story is great and I found it very emotional, I enjoyed the experience I had with Amber’s Airline – High Hopes.