Some studios are content to take their time, and refine their craft to a perfect, incisive edge. Inkle, previously of the excellent 80 Days have been working away at Heaven’s Vault for almost a full year since RPS’s Adam Smith took a peek at it last GDC and fell madly in love with its quiet, thoughtful, nature.
While Inkle aren’t quite ready to pin down any of the gritty details like a release date or system specs, they are ready to show the world a little bit of the game in motion. Take a moment to ponder its nature, before rushing off to the next game.
As covered in Adam’s earlier preview, the full trailer for the game leans heavily on the concept of learning a dead (fictional) language, with you piecing together bits of personal knowledge in order to decipher the nature of the various artifacts, glyphs and tablets you’ll be finding along the way. Or you could completely bodge it up and mis-translate everything, probably leaving you up a creek without knowing the word for paddle.
This trailer also gives us our first look at Heaven’s Vault’s extraordinary art style in action. Despite being an open-world 3D adventure, every still shot of the game looks like a pre-rendered, hand-drawn scene. This is because the characters are 2D, their sprites flitting across the landscape as if in a pre-production animatic. It’s dreamlike in motion, but looks surprisingly concrete the moment they stop moving.
We also get a peek at the free travel system in the game, hopping in your Spelljammer-esque spacecraft in order to ride cosmic tides and travel between potential dig sites. It’s great to see interactive fiction that looks as rich visually and audibly as it seems textually, and Inkle have already proved themselves capable of delivering complex, branching story arcs.
I also can’t help but observe that your robot holobuddy looks like the ghost of Johnny 5.
Inkle are taking this one at their own pace. There’s no release date locked down, but they hope to bring Heaven’s Vault to us sometime this year. You can keep up with it on the official site here.