In my eyes, Inkle can do no wrong, with 80 Days being one of my favorite mobile games ever. So, you can understand why I’m impatiently waiting for the developer’s next game, Heaven’s Vault, to drop, and, based on the latest developer blog, the game is getting closer to completion. As the developers proclaim in the dev blog, the game is currently playable from beginning to end, although it’s still in a very rough form and needs more work. Still, reaching this stage in development is a pretty big milestone. The game has been in development for over two years, and by the time it comes out, it will be closer to three. That’s as long as it took Inkle to make the entire Sorcery! series, which should give you a sense of how much more ambitious Heaven’s Vault is.
Apparently, what has taken the longest to get right is the game’s visuals; Heaven’s Vault is the first truly 3D game Inkle has ever attempted, so that—combined with the variety of places you will visit (deserts, forests, ruined castles, cold palaces, forgotten mines, etc)—have pushed Inkle’s limits. Therefore, the developer decided to add two new artists to the mix last year, both of which worked at Guerilla Games, as well as a new level designer who worked on Killzone Mercenary and other AAA titles. In other words, Inkle is growing, and that is good news both in terms of what games we can expect and also in terms of how long those games will take to be completed.
Heaven’s Vault webpage is also gradually adding more information, which gives us a better sense of what the game will be all about. We already knew the basics: you play as archaeologist Aliya Elasra, who, alongside her sidekick robot Six, is searching for a missing roboticist. That search takes her deep into the Nebula to explore the ruins of a lost age. In terms of gameplay, Heaven’s Vault is a free-roaming, third person exploration game. For a better sense of that, check out the new screenshot below.
The story will be procedurally generated, but don’t let that phrase scare you; Inkle wants to avoid the generic storylines that procedural generation can often engender, so the developer has designed its own version of procedural generation that includes plenty of hand-authored content build on top of procedural generation. I have faith in Inkle’s story-telling abilities as well as expertise with the genre, and I hope that Heaven’s Vault avoids any of the pitfalls that come with procedural generation.
We also got to hear more about the translation puzzle mechanic that will lie at the core of Heaven’s Vault. As you explore the Nebula, you will encounter an ancient hieroglyphic language that you’ll need to decipher. This puzzle mechanic, though, isn’t just about gatekeeping content; the solutions are narratively significant and propel the story forward, with the wrong translation possibly sending you down the wrong track. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this “archaeological science fiction adventure game" (as Inkle calls Heaven’s Vault), and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. For now, we’ll have to do with the lovely music from the teaser trailer.