Sci-fi archeology adventure Heaven’s Vault gets a trailer

Heaven's Vault

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.


  1. Faldrath says:

    Given that 80 Days (and Desert Golfing) are probably the only mobile games worth playing, anything that Inkle does deserves attention.

    (yes, I might be exaggerating quite a bit in the first part of my previous sentence. Then again, maybe I’m not)

  2. Don Reba says:

    All the fun of learning a foreign language with none of the utility — how could anyone say no?

    The glyphs have no spaces, Mistress. Ancient scribes didn’t expect their writing to be READ.

    So, that’s what the deal with Thai is.

  3. syllopsium says:

    After the triumph of Sorcery! I’m prepared to give pretty much anything by Inkle a go.. Haven’t tried 80 Days yet, either, but must.

    Love the style.

  4. NuclearSword says:

    Well it definitely looks unique. I appreciate an indie studio making an open world here, but I am just not digging the fade out/fade in effect as you “walk” around. It does look like an awards-baity independent animated film somewhat, I’ll admit, but it just seems like it would work better for a game to animate it. Something like Time & Eternity (PS3) would be preferred.

    The core gameplay of translating messages is actually pretty cool and sounds super solid for an adventure title (heck, it’s probably been used as puzzles for tons of games since the days of Myst), and the world looks beautiful. The music sounds great too. I’ll definitely keep an eye on this, the “movement” just bugs me

    • Angstsmurf says:

      The fade-in, fade-out animation style is obviously inspired by The Last Express.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      Same, kind of wish it was fully animated, but it’s understandable given what I assume is a limited budget. Cool art style though, and the language mechanic looks interesting.

  5. Seyda Neen says:

    Still looks plenty cool. Looking forward to it!

  6. Avioto says:

    Whatever you do, don’t look at the comments under that video. My god.

  7. A_Rude_gesture says:

    When I first read the title of the game I thought: “Heaven’s Vault. Where have I heard that before?”
    And then it dawned on me: “Ah! Heaven’s Gate.”
    Anyway, the game looks really interesting. At least more interesting than waiting for Hale-Bopp to turn up and then scoff down the apple-sauce and vodka…

  8. vahnn says:

    I loved Sethian, but always felt like it could use a little exploration or wandering around a world to give it a sense of place and perspective. This looks likes they thought the same thing.