This weekend I have finished “Heaven’s Vault”, a game from Inkle. Heaven’s Vault is an adventure game where you play as an archeologist trying to solve a mystery about an ancient civilization. A key feature of the game is that you have to decipher that civilization’s language as you play.
I love Inkle’s games in general. The writing is very good, and there are many nuanced choices through the game that take the story in different directions, playing with the relationships between the characters. In Heaven’s Vault, that happens mainly in the relationship between Aliya and her sidekick, Six. In the beginning, I felt Six as an annoyance, but he really grew on me through the game. On the other hand, this game seemed to have a greater than usual amount of “asshole” characters, which made me want to avoid any story lines related to them. Luckily, it was possible to do just that and still progress through the story.
That said, the game interface many times felt a bit buggy and unpolished, with me often fighting with invisible walls and weird camera angles, difficulty in scrolling through the timeline using the mouse, losing control of the character in unexpected transitions, etc. These issues unfortunately sometimes distracted from the wonderful story.
Reading online about the game after finishing it, I found this great blog from a historian reflecting about the themes of history, language and archeology in the game.