Up To Code: else Heart.Break() Arrives

It was back in 2010 that Swedish developer Erik Svedäng started work on else Heart.Break() [official site], shortly after the release of his critical darling Blueberry Garden. The game spent a year in pre-production, and a further four in actual production thereafter, helped along by support from the Nordic Game Program. It was on Thursday, however, that Svedäng finally released else Heart.Break() to the world.

It seems fitting that he spent the release sat next to his team. Besides the overt coding/hacking and dodgy political overseer conceit else Heart.Break() portrays, at its core lies a game about life. In previous interviews, Svedäng has mentioned his desire to depict the joys of being able to stroll through parks, visit cafes, ride the train. He compared his game to Grand Theft Auto without the violence. He compared his game to real life.

“Finally, after many years it is released!” said Svedäng in a blog post to mark the occasion. “Quite a surreal feeling over here in my apartment where our team has gathered.”

Alice has been taken by else Heart.Break()’s PS1-era aesthetic, and having played the game’s opening hour, the art style immediately feels right – not merely a decision made due to technical limitations or necessity. It’s a strange game, but the code-by-numbers motif feels fresh, too; a break from similar coding puzzle games like Quadrilateral Cowboy.

Blueberry Garden’s central tenet was manipulating the world around you, carving a path to success. In many ways so too is else Heart.Break() but on a grander, real world scale. Perhaps Svedäng is trying to teach us more than just coding.

You can decide for yourself by visiting GOG (£11.59), Humble Store (£11.89) or Steam (£13.29).

Here’s the launch trailer:


  1. Big Murray says:

    Sooooo … wot u think?

  2. Dorga says:

    Wot u think incoming hopefully

  3. Turkey says:

    Really weird and cool that someone’s spent that much time and effort getting the vibe of a PS1-era game down.

    Even the music sounds vaguely ’90s ish. It needs more Japanese people rapping in English, though.

  4. 9of9 says:

    PS1-era graphics: Awesome!
    PS1-era terrible camera controls: Not so good.

    Still quite early on at the moment though, looks quite fun!

    • Big Murray says:

      Not so sure about that … of all the retro eras to emulate, I’m not sure why anyone would want to emulate the look of the PS1.

      • yhancik says:

        And why not? The PS1-era was the period during which 3D in gaming became really popular – and for many people it was the first contact with 3D.

        People will always develop nostalgia for what blew their mind at the time, no matter how good or bad it was. It can be 80s fashion or Geocities or PS1 aesthetics.

        • Big Murray says:

          The old 8 and 16-bit eras produced some beautiful graphics. I’ve never anyone look back the PS1/N64 era and go “man, those were some really beautiful graphics”.

          Nostalgia or no, it was objectively a bit of an ugly era, graphically.

          • noodlecake says:

            But somehow the developers here have managed to take that, keep the psone era feel and turn this into something absolutely stunning! So whether the psone era was beautiful or not, in my opinion it was a great choice and it makes the game visually stand out.

          • Turkey says:

            You’re right for the most part, but there were a few nice looking PS1 games that blended sprite art and early 3d towards the end of the system’s lifecycle.

            Breath of Fire 4 and Persona 2 are really good examples of this.

          • yhancik says:

            Murray, do you realise that some people have been saying exactly the same things about the so-called “8bit” aesthetic? Nothing is really objective when it comes to beauty, and what an era will call “ugly” will be called “beautiful” by another generation.

          • ChrisGWaine says:

            This game looks good, but it does not look like a PS1 game. People probably just don’t accurately remember what the problems and limitations were like.

          • yhancik says:

            That’s the point! The references to “PS1-era” doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be a scientifically accurate emulation of a PS1 game; it’s a (new) look that tries to relate to our (unperfect and rose-tinted) memories of games of a certain period.

        • Zirgs says:

          It’s also the era of fucking ugly 3D graphics. I don’t even want to play any games of that generation, because they look so goddamn fugly.

          Call me a graphics whore if you want, but I’d rather play something from this century that has better graphics and gameplay.

  5. Zantium says:

    It has an interesting aesthetic and music vibe, I quite like the setting.

    You just wouldn’t go strolling through the park though and most conversations are limited by the shallow trees. The hacking part of the story is slow to emerge though and if you don’t keep talking to the same people (hint) you might not progress.

    I’m about 7 hours in and it’s just starting to pick up a bit having come close to just giving up with it.

    It is at least different to anything else I’ve played.

    ..and yeah, the camera is pretty awful.

  6. ChrisGWaine says:

    “Alice has been taken by else Heart.Break()’s PS1-era aesthetic”

    She said PS2, which is closer to the mark.

  7. Rich says:

    I don’t know why, but the title of the game annoys me. Maybe it’s because the upper case “B” in the “Break” method’s name and no ending “;” suggests (shudder) Visual Basic.

    • Geebs says:

      Visual Basic is the ugliest and most needlessly perverse language it has ever been my distinct lack of pleasure to bang out code in.

      I’m more upset linguistically by the use of dot syntax in a function definition, and philosophically by the implication that heartbreak accepts no arguments and doesn’t return anything.

      • Rich says:

        I’m happy enough with dot syntax, and I suppose it’s appropriate here; you have a heart object, and you’re calling its break method i.e. heart.break(); Unless of course Heart.break() is static, in which case I’d get very grumpy.

        If you’re not into Java/C++, I suppose break(heart) would be more your style.

      • LionsPhil says:

        PHP easily takes that cake and then some. Most horrid languages at least have their own twisted internal logic—even deliberately perverse ones, like INTERCAL, or Perl. PHP transcends that into just a chaos of exceptional-case badness.

        • Geebs says:

          Exceptional case badness? You must never have tried to write anything in R ;-)

          Funnily enough I was just trying my hand at a bit of PHP this week although I’ve not seen anywhere near enough to learn to hate it yet. It does seem that if you want to use a function in a separate file to do layout common to a bunch of pages (so that you can pass arguments), you need to concatenate all of the code produced in that function and pass it back as a string – which is presumably why all of the PHP pages on stackexchange are rife with people cursing the inappropriate use of global variables.

      • phlebas says:

        Heartbreak far too often accepts no arguments and returns nothing.

        • Erithtotl says:

          Logged in just to thumbs up this one. You been saving that comment for just the right occasion lol?

  8. Rich says:

    “Dim MyHeart As BrokenHeart = Heart.Break()”