Heaven’s Vault

On a dis­tant planet, found in trans­la­tion

Games Master - - Battlefield V - Alan Wen

Mak­ing 3D games is com­plex, and even the big­gest stu­dios have trou­ble pro­duc­ing con­vinc­ing char­ac­ter mod­els and an­i­ma­tions. How­ever, In­kle Stu­dios has come up with an el­e­gant so­lu­tion, which is im­me­di­ately strik­ing when we go hands-on with Heaven’s Vault. It’s a 3D open world but its char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing pro­tag­o­nist Aliya, are de­picted as hand-drawn 2D art, with over a thou­sand in­di­vid­ual frames that fade into each other as she moves or when the cam­era ro­tates. Sidestep­ping 3D char­ac­ter mod­el­ling, this mes­meris­ing comic-book ef­fect al­lows for a va­ri­ety of an­gles and ex­pres­sions.

The game it­self re­minds us of The Wit­ness. Rather than grap­pling with puz­zles, it has you de­ci­pher­ing an alien lan­guage. As an ar­chae­ol­o­gist, you find in­scrip­tions in the ru­ins, and are given a few pos­si­ble in­ter­pre­ta­tions for each glyph. But as you work on one phrase, you’ll come across an­other in­scrip­tion that might con­tain the same glyph, which can help you, or prompt you to re­con­sider an ear­lier trans­la­tion.

Dic­tio­nary cor­ner

The abil­ity to cross-ref­er­ence is at the heart of things, though the game is fine with let­ting you make the ‘wrong’ in­ter­pre­ta­tion. What­ever you con­clude, there’s no gat­ing of progress, so it’s pos­si­ble to fin­ish the game and come to no un­der­stand­ing of the civil­i­sa­tion’s his­tory. It may, how­ever, feel like watch­ing a for­eign-lan­guage film with­out sub­ti­tles. Our demo ends with Aliya com­ing across a mu­ral of text – and we just know a few short phrases from pre­vi­ous in­scrip­tions, which gives you an idea of just how huge and com­plex the lan­guage sys­tem is. We’re won over by its pic­ture-book aes­thetic and ex­cited at the prospect of un­earthing more Heaven’s Vault’s mys­ter­ies.

Your ro­bot is called Six be­cause the pre­vi­ous five went miss­ing. Aliya’s not a fan of the com­pany, then.

As you ex­plore, Aliya can ask Six ques­tions or make re­marks, the lat­ter of­ten giv­ing you op­tions to be a real jerk too. Well, some­times the frus­tra­tion’s got to come out…

Glyphs you’ve al­ready trans­lated which share roots ap­pear au­to­mat­i­cally when you come across new in­scrip­tions, but will it still make sense?

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