Heaven’s Vault is an interesting narrative experience that has you rediscover a lost language in an adventure game. Learn more in our Heaven’s Vault review!
While the game has you control main character archeologist Aliya Elasra, joined by robot companion Six, as they make their way up a hill during the First few minutes of the game, your adventure actually begins some weeks earlier at the University of Iox, the location where you will get to meet Six in the first place. It is here that you will start to learn about the basics of the game. This being an adventure release means you will be interacting with other characters, selecting from available conversation options, replying to what they have to say as needed, going down different dialogue branches. You can also interact with objects, remarking on their notable state and their objective in the modern era, making notes of things in the timeline you can access by pressing the touchpad on the DualShock 4, which also gives you access to a map.
The main gameplay hook of the game has to do with uncovering a lost language and piecing it back together, one word at a time. The interesting part is that you’re the expert on the matter you will be the one in charge of interpreting this long-lost hieroglyphic language, created by developer inkle specifically for this game. Aliya will have to decipher the language of the Ancients, and this along with every choice she makes – and those she doesn’t – will end up shaping how the story takes place. As you find new words from this language of ages past, you will get to piece it together, adding to your lexicon and bringing you closer to solving the overall mystery at hand.
A friend of Professor Myari from the university has gone missing, but before this happened, he gave her a very old brooch. Knowing that Aliya is an expert on the matter, she gives her the brooch to try and show Aliya how her friend going missing in the Nebula is unusual, what with him being a Roboticist and all. It is then that Aliya and Six – the name does make one wonder what happened to the other previous five robots Aliya must have met – set out on a trip on the Nightingale towards Maersi, a moon that is part of the Iox Protectorate.
Once you’ve selected a destination in the map and plotted a course, you will get to sail there through the Ioxian Space by making use of the Verdant Pass. During your time navigating through each of the paths that lead you to new areas, you will be controlling your vessel by pressing the L2 and R2 buttons, trying to stay on course as you follow the handy flashing arrows over the waters. Six might also prove to be useful by providing you with some instructions here and there, so be sure to pay attention to your robotic companion.
As you find new artifacts and items, you will gain access to more and more words, and the way they interact with one another to form sentence will help you better understand the language of the Ancients. A word you have previously tried to translate could be useful as part of a longer sentence, or it might show you that your theory was wrong and that the meaning you had assigned to a word does not fit, considering there are other examples of that particular hieroglyphic being used under a different context. While the game will let you know if you’ve erred with your interpretation of a word, you will also learn when you’ve nailed the translation for a word or two in particular, which, to be honest, is certainly a great feeling.
Exploring each area you visit will allow you to uncover new artifacts, new information, and hopefully find some new NPC to interact with, so that you can start to piece together the bigger overall puzzle, unlocking new locations to explore as you go. You will know you have unlocked a new location since the game will open up a mini-map in the lower right corner of the screen while showing you the new of the new area that is ready for you to explore it.
Heaven’s Vault is an adventure game with a unique premise and an interesting look that mixes great looking 2D art with 3D environments to explore – a mix that might rub some people the wrong way. It is an experience unlike anything else you have played on PlayStation 4, and that alone is one reason in favor of recommending it. Its focus on exploration and archeology, and being able to uncover the meaning of a language long lost to the rest of civilization, kept me coming back for more as I unraveled the mystery, visiting location after location packed with inscriptions to decipher and artifacts to discover.