The All Ports Open Network

Our Heaven's Vault Review

By Rachel Dalton

Heaven’s Vault is billed as a futuristic game. Yet at the same time, it is very nostalgic in that the journey reminds me of other adventure games of my childhood. As someone who sees the value in looking backward and learning from the past, games that evoke a sense of nostalgia have always appealed to me. This game is incredibly engaging and challenges the player to glean as much knowledge as possible over the course of the game - from the past and present.

Released this month by Inkle, it can be played on PC and PS4. It is marketed as an archaeological science fiction game, and it very much delivers on all fronts.

I played on my PC, and was immediately drawn into the story. Heaven’s Vault takes place in a time where robots have been around for centuries, and humans travel the various moons of The Nebula by steering a ship through a series of “rivers”. The story focuses on Aliya, a loner woman who is fascinated by the past and discovering ancient alien languages. She is tasked with exploring the universe (with the help of a robot, Six) to find a friend of the woman who adopted her when she was young.

It is a point and click adventure game, but on the PC it didn’t really feel like one.In fact, I used the computer keys more than I used the mouse. The controls for traveling the river system were a bit complex to start, but by the time I took my third or so journey, I got the hang of it and was able to move from frustration to actually enjoying the intricate artwork of the universe.

Speaking of art, this game is a wonderful blend of 2D drawn figures, while the backgrounds are all 3D. I’ve never quite played a game with the set up, but it works beautifully and adds to that overall tone of nostalgia. I typically don’t notice the music that is used in video games, but the music used in Heaven’s Vault (composed by Laurence Chapman) really stands out and helps to add to the dreamlike quality of the universe you are playing in. Out of all things, the music was the first thing to draw me in, followed quickly by the beautiful and unique artwork.

Your initial task in this game is unraveling the mystery of what happened to Janniqi Renba, but, in typical video game form, many other mysteries are uncovered along the way. One of these mysteries is our heroine herself. A favorite aspect of this game is that there is a timeline function. As a history person, I loved this, because it allowed me to organize all of the events in a linear fashion in my brain. You see the events of various historical events as you uncover artifacts, but you are also able to view the working timeline of Aliya’s life. And the mystery of Aliya is unraveled over the course of the game as you try to work out what happened to Renba.

My other favorite thing about this game was the language aspect. Aliya is fascinated with history and uncovering ancient languages, and so we do that along with her over the course of the journey. I was actually really surprised on how quickly I figured out the hieroglyphs. You start out with a few defined words and then try to find the similarities between new images that you find along the way. You are always editing your inventory of words to match what you are discovering.

Heaven’s Vault is not one of those games that has a set up storyline and it leads you where you need to go. Each individual choice that  the player makes matters. You choose the tone you take when interacting with characters, where you go on the map, and how to instruct Six. The player actually has a lot of agency in this game, and what you do  impacts how the storyline plays out.

Though the controls took me awhile to figure out (particularly while navigating the rivers of the galaxy), I absolutely loved playing Heaven’s Vault. It forces you to think and has so many different aspects to it so that you never get bored. The music is excellent at immersing you into the world, and the artwork is unique while at the same time, familiar. This game definitely made me nostalgic while still introducing new ideas and challenges. I will definitely be playing it again to see how my actions change the journey the next time around.

Stories    >   Our Heaven's Vault Review
    4/22/2019 2:37 PM
    Posted by: Joshua

    Discuss Our Heaven's Vault Review here!

    4/24/2019 8:12 PM
    Posted by: Athina

    Wow this sounds like such an interesting and engaging game! You basically had me at SPACE ARCHEOLOGIST <3 <3 The fact that you collect and decipher hieroglyphs along the way makes child Athina(who wanted to be an archeologist) swoon. The art also looks like it ties in well with the theme. I legit think I'll be picking this one up soon.


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