And archaeologist with a chip on her shoulder and her trusty new robot race across the nebula to track down a lost colleague, piece together fragments of lost history and hopefully prevent the fall of their civilisation. To do this, they’ll have to find the Heaven’s Vault.
- Puzzling Linguist: The core gameplay in Heaven’s Vault is deciphering the Ancient language one word and symbol at a time and Inkle has crafted a vast and complex language that starts you off easy with simple concepts but quickly ups the complexity until it becomes a matter of pattern recognition, educated guesses and just plain luck! One thing I don’t like though, is how little the script deciphering has to do with the story.
- This Belongs in a Museum: In Heaven’s Vault the answers are all over the Nebula and its moons, in artefacts held at the University and those you find in the many ruins you visit. Exploring different locales becomes something of a treasure hunt and you’ll be desperate to find that next hotspot and the answers and questions it’ll provide, but more than anything, you’ll want to find those items that together point the way to a new ruin. If only the travelling wasn’t such a god-awful experience.
- Temperamental Settings: I don’t know who programmed the settings in this game but if you even dare to change the volume levels for the different sounds, Heaven’s Vault will simply go insane. For the longest time, I couldn’t tell you what the music or the voice acting were like, because by lowering the volume to about 50%, the game decided to mute all audio for hours, then at some random point put it back on full blast. Fidgeting with the audio levels after that just made it worse.
- Snail Pace: This game is so damn slow! Walking is slow, conversations are slow, travelling across the nebula is slow, and it’s all so boring. There’s no fast travel, an insufferable amount of backtracking, you have to do the same actions over and over to get to the same places and it just drains all the fun out of the experience. Hell, even talking to NPCs to get help from them is slow and inconvenient, with them asking you to return later or going away to “archive” relics and making you wait for about 10 flipping minutes! And let’s not even go into those sections where the character basically limps, taking one step every 5 seconds.
- Illusion of Control: I lost count of the times the game decided to take control away from me. I could be walking towards a certain spot in the 3D environments when suddenly the camera and the characters spun in place and started walking somewhere else, disabling my input for minutes at a time.
- Sail Away: By far the worst aspect of this game is the awful sailing. It’s by far the most tedious thing I’ve done in a video game in years. In fact, I can’t remember ever doing something as boring as this. It’s slow, takes freaking ages, the currents fully stop too many damn times. The game forces you to do the majority of these sections manually and when you even dare to use the auto-travel option, which is give control to the Robot, it will only do so to NPC hubs. If you want to travel to a ruin, that’s going to be on you.
- Pointless Health: In certain situations, you’ll see a health bar pop up and drain over time and it’s primarily an excuse for the character’s movement to become even slower than usual, which I honestly thought was not possible. My only guess is that it’s supposed to make you feel like there’s a chance of failure but there’s not, I spent an entire section of the game with a depleted health bar and the only thing I felt was anger at having to control such a slow character.
- Hateful Mates: I really despise the characters in this game, they’re shallow, poorly written and incredibly unlikable. The robot, Six, is inconsistent as hell in its behaviour, the protagonist is a poor attempt at snarky but is really just rude and uncaring and the rest of the cast has about the same personality as a bit of wet cardboard. It’s impossible to care about them and thus it’s very hard to care about the plot, what little there is of it in the end. The only thing I cared about was deciphering more bits of text, nothing else. If the Nebula died, good riddance.