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Become an archeologist and decipher an entire lost language in Heaven's Vault -- now on GOG! This Windows release comes exactly three months after the game's acclaimed debut on Steam and PlayStation 4

To mark the occasion, Heaven's Vault is 20% off on GOG.com through July 23, which brings the price to $19.99 / £17.59 / €15.99. 

"Reaching GOG's audience can make a huge difference as to whether a small studio like ours can survive and keep pushing the boundaries of interactive fiction, so we were disappointed not to launch there initially," says Joseph Humfrey, inkle's Art and Code Director. "We're thrilled that the response Heaven's Vault received at launch has led GOG to reconsider it, and we're really happy that it's now joining GOG's fantastic collection of games."

"With Heaven's Vault we've changed our mind after checking the final game, how it was perceived by gamers, and receiving numerous requests from our users suggesting to release it," says Marcin Traczyk, GOG's Global Communications Manager. "We then reached out to the developers with a proposal to release their game on GOG.com simply because we believe that its high quality and unique character deserves to be recognised and shared with our audience."

Heaven's Vault is an incredibly flexible narrative game with a complex linguistic puzzle at its core. Every decision you make -- and every translation you guess -- feeds back into the story to weave a tale that's unique to every player and every playthrough.

Join Aliya Elasra and her robot sidekick Six to sail in search of lost sites, explore ancient ruins, and translate inscriptions that could unlock the secrets of the Nebula's past. But be warned: just like a real archeologist, no matter how deeply you believe in the history you piece together, you'll never know for sure if you're correct.

The version on GOG includes all of the updates that have been incorporated into Heaven's Vault since its initial launch, including:

 

This is a quite unique point and click adventure game. The animation is comparible to Pixar as are the sounds The locations and backgrounds are of Hollywood (animated) movie quality as is the buddy-buddy style of the heroine, Aliya Elrasa and her no-name Robot which she names 'Six' because it is easy to say and remember. As the player you have no control over what Aliya names her Robot.

As usual in so many films and cartoons, games and books, the Robot has most of the best lines and acts in such a manner that it quickly becomes a popular character like the love-child of C3PO and R2D2. Much of the artwork is 2D rendered against a 3D background which give great depth to every single hand-drawn frame and breathe life into the animations. Aliya however is an enigma herself. Sometimes she is kind and considerate while other times she is rude or indifferent often to the point of condescension - mostly then she is not evil but neither is she nice. Possibly this is because by profession she is an archaeologist whose life revolves around dust and bones and not human interaction.

You can find a trailer here on the inkle website

 

Aliya arrives at IOX, brought there by Myari, where she is shown inscriptions on an Eagle-Wing brooch. There are two sets of writing on the brooch, Eastern cyrillic in style, and Aliya is presented with four words in English, two words for each piece of cyrillic. The writing looks majestic, noble even, and so that is maybe a clue as to one of the words or phrases - it could be Emperor or Empire.

The mystique of many characters is brought to the game by their lower legs and feet being enshrouded in a mist making them seem ghostlike and invisible. They tend to 'float' rather than walk, run or fly but in general there is little animation so as to mention.

 

The game is often directed by the choice of questions asked by the player character. These are presented next to the Square, The Cross and the Circle of the PS4 controller and are asked when the required symbol is pressed.

On your map you will see place names amongst them Maersi and it is to here you are required to steer your ship to find Renba, you use the Left and Right controllers, sticks and buttons, to keep it on the course being shown by the arrows in the swift-swirling air-streams.

At first it is easy to keep on course but then it begins to twist and turn and split into various paths, you having to fly at speed whilst navigating the sharp turns that come at you quickly - miss one turn and the race is lost there is no retreating or turning back, you have to begin again from the starting point.

 

MAERSI is a farming Moon and once you move there you find that the animation of its inhabitants is below that of those earlier encountered. You arrive at a village where you find it difficult to spark any conversation from the locals. Pigs wander the streets, moving sideways and in comical fashion and each direction you wish to take is only allowed by you moving along muddy pathways, marked by a myriad footprints.

Annoyingly you can find your passage often blocked by a single plant with no way round or across it and yet should a pig wander in front of your path you walk right through it. 

You can see homes and farms in the village, higher up in the hills, and to reach them the path zig-zags, keeping you scrolling sideways and upwards, left and right, until you reach the occasional farmer and its buildings that are mostly empty of anything useful. There is a feeling that you are doing a lot of nothing and going nowhere.

 

Aliya and Six have to travel deep into the Nebula (your map on which you select your travelling is of the Nebula) as you search for the missing Robotic scientist, Janniqi Renba. On their way they freely explore wherever they go and speak with many interesting folk, some friendly, some neutral and others who may plot against you for their own nefarious needs.

Throughout their journeys they will learn a completely new language, already mentioned above as being of cyrillic descent as far as I could tell, although others have told me it may include Ancient Egyptian, Latin and Aramaic, symbols rather than hieroglyphics. As you learn you remember and as you treat others so they remember also. You are not always immediately told that your translation is correct but the need to translate forms a major part of the game mechanic.

 

There is a great adventure within this game but whether you find all of it is up to how deep you dig - the effort you put in will be rewarding but it will also be quite an effort.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015