Dealing with fires, mafia bosses, and toilet emergencies in Rescue HQ

There are plenty of TV shows about cops. Same with firefighters. And doctors! But if you ever wanted all of that drama under the same roof, and for that roof to be completely invisible so you can see into the building, then Rescue HQ—The Tycoon might be for you. It's a simulation game where you take charge of a fire department, a police department, and emergency medical staff, cram them all into one building, send them out to deal with unseen emergencies, and then suddenly realize all 30 of your rescue workers are sharing a single toilet because you're a terrible, terrible tycoon.

I began by building a small fire department. You need a locker room, which I initially assumed was akin to a break room or kitchen—just a requirement to have in place so your crew has something to do besides work. So, I placed my lockers out of the way in the back of the building. It turns out that before responding to an emergency every crew member has to run to their locker first to gear up. Thus, my crew is pretty slow to respond to emergencies because they basically have to run an entire lap around the building before they can hop in their vehicles. Off to a great start!

I built little offices to act as a place where new recruits could be hired, a training room so they can get whipped into shape, and garages for the various rescue vehicles to be dispatched from. As you successfully respond to emergencies and your reputation increases, you can use your reputation points to unlock new vehicles. Starting with just a police car, for instance, you can unlock a police van, pursuit vehicles, and a SWAT truck.

Pretty much everything gets upgraded in the same fashion: firefighting equipment, medical gear, and weapons for the cops. You can even unlock police dogs, which I did as soon as I could. I know my police department really needed riot gear, but I bought them a dog instead. I cannot be expected to make anything a higher priority than a dog.

You can't pet the dog, by the way. Someone let that dog-petting Twitter account know, please.

When an emergency arrives, you click on the notification and then put together your response team. Each emergency will specify the requirements: say, eight firefighters, a certain type of firetruck, maybe some equipment like air tanks or breaching gear. If you meet the requirements you can detail those resources and send your crew out knowing you've got a 100% success rate. If you don't meet the requirements, like maybe you've only got trainees available at the time or you haven't acquired the correct gear yet, your chances of success are lower, which means you won't make gains with your reputation, and it'll take longer to improve your departments.

Unfortunately, you don't get to see your brave teams actually deal with these emergencies. When they jump into their -cars or ambulances or firetrucks, they just speed out of the garage and disappear. Only when they return do you find out if they succeeded or failed. It's a bummer that you can't watch your tiny firemen battling a blaze or see your wee little cops busting itty bitty little perps, but it can still be a bit exciting when a bunch of emergencies happen at once, or when an emergency requires multiple teams. A car accident might need both fire and medical. A riot might need police and medical. At one point a self-driving car became self-aware and terrorized the city, and I needed to dispatch all three of my departments at once.

There are also major events you can plan in advance for. A mafia boss is scheduled to testify in court a week from now, and I'll need to provide police protection with eight fully trained officers, SWAT gear, and a van. A major soccer match is happening a few weeks later, and I need to prepare for the inevitable riots (again, I spend my points on the dog instead of riot gear, so I assume I'm already screwed). 

And naturally, you need to manage the moods of your little rescue workers, which I so far have not done a great job at. They're always tired because I haven't built enough places for them to rest. I can't hire more help because I'll need to install lockers for each of them, and I'll have to place those lockers even further from the front door than the existing lockers already are because there's no room anywhere else. The game actually had to tell me I had a toilet emergency—yes, it really used the words 'toilet emergency'—because I only had a single bathroom stall. I also only had a single refrigerator in the kitchen, meaning everyone was both incredibly hungry and had to poop at the same time. Nothing like sending people out to respond to emergencies when they're half-asleep, starving, and in need of a poo.

Rescue HQ - The Tycoon is a fun and hectic little sim that I might actually succeed at if I get around to adding more lockers and building what by now needs to be a simply enormous bathroom. Like I said, I wish I could actually watch my little crews doing their work in the field, but it's still enjoyable watching them run around and jump into their vehicles, working out in the training room, or bringing crooks back to sit in the holding cell. 

Rescue HQ - The Tycoon is available on Steam.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.