Science-fantasy adventure Heaven’s Vault remains one of the most intriguing upcoming games of 2019. It’s a game about archaeology – the proper sort, where you rummage around through the artifacts and ruins of civilisations past, and attempt to piece together what it is you’re looking at. It’s the latest from 80 Days studio Inkle, but this time they’re expanding past prose and into the third dimension and beyond. Archaeologist Aliya explores strange worlds in a wooden space-sailing ship, deciphers an alien language and generally refuses to hit things with whips. Ponder the newly unearthed trailer below.
There one thing I’m sure about with Heaven’s Vault – I’m going to be rubbish at it. You’re given a lot of clues to piece together, but according to Katharine and Brendan in their ‘most anticipated in 2019’ bit here, it doesn’t often tell you when you’re wrong. The game’s official page even mentions that making a small mistake in a translation early on can snowball into leading you wildly off course, which is a fascinating concept. It almost sounds like a more natural, intuitive evolution of the cruel ‘dead man walking’ scenarios you could bumble into in early Sierra adventures, only here you’ve got the chance to correct your mistakes.
As the trailer highlights, a key part of the game is picking apart an alien language inspired by Egyptian, Chinese and German. Fragments of one word can be used to help you piece together a larger compound term elsewhere, so long as you remember to scribble down the important bit. It’s not all ruins and translations, though – Aliya and her robot pal Six get to visit towns and villages and chatter with the locals as you work your way towards tracking down a missing roboticist. Quite why they’ve hired her to track down someone is a mystery in itself, but if Indiana Jones is your go-to for grand adventure, I guess any archaeologist will do.