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Heaven's Vault |OT| Speaker For The Dead

Oct 25, 2017

Explore the lost ruins of the Nebula, read ancient inscriptions, and uncover a forgotten past in this narrative archaeological science-fiction adventure game from the creators of 80 Days.

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Aliya Elasra is an archaeologist, exploring a strange region of space called the Nebula with her robot sidekick Six, hoping to uncover the secrets of the long-forgotten past. When a roboticist from the University of Iox goes missing, Aliya begins a trail of discoveries that will lead to the very edge of her world - and the ancient secret of Heaven's Vault.

Sail an open-world of fast flowing space-rivers, discover lost ruins, explore ancient sites, find artefacts and translate their strange hieroglyphics. Piece together the history of the world and an entire ancient language.

From the creators of massively-branching interactive adventure 80 Days, Heaven's Vault is not your usual linear adventure game. Progress through the game in any order you choose - the game's fully adaptive narrative remembers every choice you make, every discovery and every action you take, influencing what happens next. Meet a diverse cast of characters who remember everything you say, and who's attitude to you will change with how you act. Some are friendly, some are cautious, and some are out to trick you.

Who will you trust? What will you find? What will you learn? What will you risk? What will you lose?
  • Totally unique art style, blending beautiful 3D environments and hand-drawn 2D art.
  • Learn and translate the ancient language of the Ancients.
  • Interact with a large cast of characters who remember everything you say.
  • Journey through an open world where every action counts.
  • Sail on the rivers of the Nebula - and into its depths.
  • Be a thief, an explorer, a detective, a seeker, a saviour, a rogue...

Hundreds of meticulously hand-drawn frames of 2D art are used within beautiful 3D environments to create detailed worlds and expressive characters.

An entire ancient hieroglyphic language awaits to be deciphered. A puzzle mechanic with a twist: solutions are narratively significant and further the story - but the wrong translation might send you down the wrong track!

The pictorial nature of both Ancient Egyptian and Chinese writing systems inspired the glyphs of Heaven's Vault. Words are formed out of smaller "atoms", as they often are in German.

Jump aboard Aliya's ship, the Nightingale, and sail the rivers of space to discover the secrets of the Nebula. Locate lost moons, and explore freely in a massive world.

Drifting ruins scattered throughout the Nebula may help Aliya find clues to lost dig sites. Decide which sites are important as you trace the path of civilisation back through the centuries.

Free-roaming, third person exploration of a wide variety of locations: ruined palaces, desert moons, market towns and thriving farming villages.

Locations in Heaven's Vault can be explored in different ways, but whichever way you go, the story is always moving. Whatever may happen, there is no turning back!

A diverse cast of characters remember and react to everything you do. Some are friendly, some are cautious, and some will try to trick you. You have been warned!


There are big decisions to be made here, but, most thrillingly, throughout the course of the adventure I found myself surrounded by the constant fluttering of smaller choices - how much to reveal to an ally, how to respond to my companion's latest micro-aggression, and whether, even, to interpret it as an aggression at all.

...Heaven's Vault is filled with ingenious stuff, whether it's the nearly-invisible shifting of power in a relationship as events unfold or the way that your actions and discoveries slowly fill in a timeline that measures events in minutes but also telescopes outwards to capture years and centuries. This thing is a wonder, a narrative inversion of the tech tree from Civ, almost, in which rather than unlock new abilities you steadily recontextualise your own knowledge.
Heaven's Vault is a puzzle game you haven't experienced before. From its engaging story to its engrossing fictional language and puzzles, this is a game that feels rewarding in a way that no other game has done before.
PC Gamer
Heaven's Vault does a beautiful job of letting you unlock a language, and thus a dialogue of sorts, with the past, via a wonderfully engaging protagonist.

...Heaven's Vault communicates the beauty of assigning meaning to symbols, and thus the people who wrote them.
While I may have hated sailing, there’s so much more to Heaven’s Vault than that. This is an absolutely beautiful game that manages to succeed at something genuinely unique and interesting. It also does something many of the best adventure games do. It makes me want to spend more time in its world, as Heaven’s Vault is well worth my time. These are characters I want to talk to, Ancient is a language I want to learn, and Heaven’s Vault is a game I want to replay. Maybe next time I’ll actually figure out how to write the whole review in Ancient.
Cultured Vultures
Although Heaven's Vault boasts no groundbreaking animations, an emphasis on dialogue and language truly makes it stand out as an innovative puzzle game. With characters as colourful as the worlds you visit, you are guaranteed to be swept into an intriguing storyline shaped exclusively by you.
Powerup Gaming
Minor issues aside, the gameplay is just sublime. I never would have thought that I’d enjoy an archeological/language adventure game so much. Heaven’s Vault is a stunning achievement in interactive narratives and is an absolute must play.
Playing Heaven’s Vault gives the same sense of satisfaction as curling up with a favourite book. With top-notch writing, exotic locales, and a true sense of adventure, Heaven’s Vault is a triumph.
Sixth Axis
Heaven’s Vault is a fantastic narrative experience that offers a genuinely mature and intelligent take on science fiction and the interactions between technology and religion. Superbly realised characters, fascinating architecture, and a wonderfully detailed new language to decipher combine to make this a truly original and rewarding game. It’s a shame that the sailing is so repetitive, but Heaven's Vault will reward fans of slower paced and meditative games.
US Gamer
Heaven's Vault may have one of the most well-realized video game worlds ever, with your curiosity and personality molding your story through the Nebula. Whether you're fascinated by history or just by a personal sense of duty, there's a lot to love about Heaven's Vault, even if the clunky movement and frustrating sailing sour the overall experience.
Push Square
Heaven’s Vault will satisfy budding archaeologists and linguistic fanatics in fits and starts, but the overall experience that brings those mechanics together leaves a lot to be desired. Alongside technical frustrations and tedious movement between locations, this is hardly a game we can recommend with any sort of confidence.
Heaven’s Vault does hold great potential; Inkle’s commitment to delivering an alternative (and more realistic) take on video game archaeology, and to encouraging players to decipher and learn a language, is inventive and mentally stimulating. But holistically, the experience is humdrum; there’s little incentive to keep on unpacking its world if I don’t buy into its fiction. And sadly, I do not. For a game that revolves around the beauty of languages, it’s a disappointment that Heaven’s Vault can’t find the right words to express itself.
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Nov 11, 2017
Excellent OT!

Can't wait to check some reviews, though might not even bother and just do a blind purchase.

Does anyone know the Steam pricing yet?
Oct 28, 2017
I've been playing this for the past few hours or so since release. As an ancient historian/linguist, this is right up my street. If you're the kind of person who goes "a ha, that's the noun marker!" when you look at unfamiliar languages, and have any experience looking at material culture as evidence for the way people lived/thought, you'll definitely enjoy this; even if not, it's a highly enjoyable adventure game thus far.

Things which are good:

- the language solving; it's not particularly hard, but it's very satisfying to piece things together.
- the overall look of the game. The environments are beautifully rendered (very The Witness-esque in style, I think). While the 2D slidey portraits may not be to everyone's taste, they are attractive enough.
- the density of the narrative. Unsurprisingly given that it's from Inkle it's well written; there's all sorts of different threads I could be following right now and they're all equally interesting.

Things which are not so good:

- the sailing, although the universe is lovely to look at, is a bit boring.

With this and Whispers of a Machine this week (that release date snuck up on me - but as a huge fan of both Kathy Rain and The Samaritan Paradox (seriously, if you've not played the latter DO SO) I am very excited) it's a good week for me!
Oct 25, 2017
The timeline here is so cool. It reminds me of the globe in 80 Days and how satisfying it was to track your progress. The timeline is just as aesthetically-pleasing and the way it can zoom in and out from eons to seconds makes it was enticing to fill out

The approach to dialogue choices reminds of the Witcher in that the voice and character are set but your choice influence personality and attitude

I’m hooked already and it’s only been 15 minutes
Oct 25, 2017
What were they thinking with this sailing minigame? It is incredibly janky, it takes forever, and it is not fun in the least. Am I going to have to do this every time I go to a new place?

It's so bad that I don't think I can deal with wasting my time with it if it is going to force me to do it every time.

Wow, what a way to absolutely ruin an otherwise incredibly compelling experience.
Oct 25, 2017
What were they thinking with this sailing minigame? It is incredibly janky, it takes forever, and it is not fun in the least. Am I going to have to do this every time I go to a new place?

It's so bad that I don't think I can deal with wasting my time with it if it is going to force me to do it every time.

Wow, what a way to absolutely ruin an otherwise incredibly compelling experience.
It's....pretty prevalent, yeah. Sometimes you can jump in the hammock for a nap to have Six fast-travel you to a destination you've visited previously, but I'm not 100% sure what triggers that option (lack of dialogue it wants you to see while sailing, maybe?) and certainly does not appear all the time or even most of the time.
Oct 25, 2017
It's....pretty prevalent, yeah. Sometimes you can jump in the hammock for a nap to have Six fast-travel you to a destination you've visited previously, but I'm not 100% sure what triggers that option (lack of dialogue it wants you to see while sailing, maybe?) and certainly does not appear all the time or even most of the time.
Yeah I just had to do it for the fourth time and it is really bad.

Putting this down, hopefully they'll patch in the ability to skip this part entirely in all circumstances.
Oct 28, 2017
A bit more time put into it now.

As with flyinj's comment above, the sailing really beings to grate as you play for an extended period of time. I haven't been able to skip it recently - even to get to main cities - because of Plot Reasons, and it's dead time too often. When you hit one of the rapids and go incredibly fast, it at least feels like you're making progress... until you look at the map and realise you still have a long, long way to go.

A shame, because I'm still really enjoying the story; I'll certainly keep going, but I ended a play session yesterday because I couldn't face the looooong journey I had to make.

Things that I've done thus far that I feel are of significance:

- I didn't go to Renba's funeral because I was too wrapped up in exploring. I feel this was a bad idea, but... what's done is done. I am worried that I might have cut off a very interesting plotline about the Professor not being all she seems... but I've not been back to Iox in ages.
- I didn't sell Six to get information on the Withering Palace. I seem to have been able to get this anyway; if I had done, I presume I wouldn't be in the situation I am in now, where Six has turned into something else - another interesting plotline.
- I've yet to trade any artefacts. I read the inscriptions on the ones I get offered for trade but that's it. I feel that as an archaeologist I should be keeping all these things I find...
- although I had no compunction having my friend look at the Imperial Crown. Shame she couldn't find out anything particularly useful about it.

The translating is actually quite "pointless" - it doesn't progress the game at all, really, and it doesn't massively further my understanding of the game's lore. It is, however, still enormous fun.


Oct 27, 2017
United Kingdom
The performance on Pro is definitely a bit of a shame. Some pretty big stutters and framerate issues. But that aside I’m really loving the game as I hoped I would. I love the characters and I love the translating. I’m excited to get deeper into it.
Oct 28, 2017
Although I can't fault the people at Inkle for tech support (they fixed my messed up save within about an hour!), there's an annoying number of bugs in this.

- the camera goes bonkers when talking to Huang on Iox; I once had a lovely close up view of nothing but his tunic. I guess it's trying to work in a very confined space but it doesn't really happen.
- the game also occasionally hangs in conversations with him, or if you try and look at a ruin on the rivers when the game isn't expecting you to.
- I got stuck on a moon where I couldn't interact with anything so had to send my save in to Inkle to get them to fix it
- the game's scripting (although obviously massive and complex!) isn't always consistent - small spoilers here,
the game is not consistent with whether Six is Six or the Empress in conversation for no immediately obvious reason outside of the places where the Empress is pretending to still be Six

Still enjoying myself, but I worry that each time the game seems to crash it's going to wipe out my progress - I won't be starting again!


Oct 27, 2017
United Kingdom
It’s definitely got it’s far share of technical... hiccups. I keep getting the thing where the closeup camera will freak out when in conversation. Or the person I’m talking to will disappear. I initially turned up the speed of the text/subtitles but had to reset it to default because it went so fast that it was unreadable.

But I’m still finding myself obsessed with the game. I adore the language stuff and it’s so fascinating to decipher it all gradually as you explore the story. I’m so happy with the game.
Oct 28, 2017
I guess it's just you and me in this thread!

Well, I finished this off today (I've had a lot of free time!). It's very interesting. But.

Despite enjoying the language decoding (even if I haven't gone into the full mechanics of it like many seem to!) it does feel rather disconnected from the rest of the game. I would have liked it if there had been some actual point to decoding what the inscriptions say; your progress is tied to discovering artifacts, but deciphering their inscriptions adds little but flavour. I don't necessarily think that how Heaven's Vault handles it is bad - just not perhaps what I was looking for. The hook of New Game+ is supposed to be that you carry your dictionary over (not a spoiler!), but other than achievement hunting I'm not sure how much it'll add to my understanding of the world. There's still clearly plenty of storylines I've not experienced judging by the number of achievements I've not got, but I'm not sure I want to revisit it to find those out at present.

The bugs are annoying, but mostly surmountable (although I have no idea how you'd get round some of them on PS4). The narrative inconsistencies where the scripting hasn't quite accounted for everything were niggles, rather than game-ending.
Oct 25, 2017
New game+ changes and makes nearly all the inscriptions more complicated, but other than that things seem to be the same.

Anyway there's something addicting about the decoding and building your dictionary, but everything in the game takes too long, even with the text speed adjusted. I ended up using an utility to speed up the game to make it more bearable.
Oct 28, 2017
Something I've been thinking about linguistically that's vaguely neat (spoilers for the end of the game)

The language is pictographic. The word for "vault" is spelt VERB-PATH-UP-UP. So it could never mean something that contains anything - it's always going to be a way of leaping across space. You can't have written homonyms in Ancient.

Not sure if that's consistent with how Aliyah - and the rest of the game - treats it, but there you go.
Jan 9, 2019
I'm a fair bit through I think, and despite rather distracting technical issues I'm still quite enthralled by the story. Translating things is also done really well and I enjoy the accomplishment of working out what certain symbols of the ancient language mean.

Also, I'm not really that into trophies but it interests me that even a week after release there's a trophy that nobody seems to have gotten yet - "The Old Sea" - wondering if it's just a really well hidden secret or something a bit more tedious to grind for.