by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Fallen from Heaven
“Did it hurt?”
“Did what hurt?”
“When you fell from Heaven.”
I’ve never used that line, but that is in fact precisely what happened to Talorel, the main character of Heaven’s Hope, a 2.5D point and click adventure game from Mosaic Mask Studio. He is an angel in training, close to becoming the real thing. However, when he is struck by an unknown flying object while he is nearing the final exam in the stunt flying academy, he crashes onto 19th century Earth near the town of Heaven’s Hope. The game follows Talorel’s story as he attempts to return to Heaven in time for his final exam.
The Spanish Inquisition had been disbanded for nearly twenty years by 1853, but in Heaven’s Hope it still seems to be alive and well. The inquisitors have a firm hold on the town, and will not take kindly to someone claiming to be an angel landing on their doorstep. The reason for the Inquisition’s presence is uncovered as you play through the game. Talorel will be in deep trouble with the archangels too if he is discovered, because passing through Heaven’s barrier without permission means permanent exile. To make matters worse, Talorel knows absolutely nothing about Earth or its people. Coming across bread for the first time proves to be a harrowing experience. Luckily he is in contact with his two best friends in Heaven, Myriel and Azael, who provide a bit of companionship and a lot of hints. Myriel acts as a sort of “good conscience”, while Azael is a lot more mischievous and will make snide comments if you do something wrong.
There will be around eight hours of gameplay on offer, taking place throughout roughly forty scenes, each of which is beautifully hand drawn. I saw plenty of games at Gamescom this year, but visually, Heaven’s Hope was the one that impressed me the most. Described as “goth comic”, I found the style to be fairly reminiscent of Tim Burton visuals. There is also a strong theme of light contrasting with dark throughout the art, and this is carried over to the story. The narrative, while light and humorous in places, is certainly leaning towards the dark side. The orchestral soundtrack has been written by Jonathan vd Wijngaarden. The Inquisition was not pleasant, and that is certainly being reflected in the presentation.
In terms of gameplay, fans of the point and click genre will be right at home. The interface has been stripped down, with the developers going for a clean look which really helps to show off the gorgeous art. You can view context sensitive icons which allow you to interact with objects. Your inventory is hidden at the bottom of the screen, but can be brought up at the press of a button. One new addition to the genre is the “Try Something Crazy” button (I was assured that this name was a work in progress). Talorel can’t speak to the raven in front of him, and he certainly can’t pick it up, so why not try something crazy? Jumping around pulling a scary face seems to do the trick and causes the raven to fly away.
Talorel will meet over twenty five odd inhabitants of the world on his travels, each with their own quirks and backstories. He will occasionally be given side quests which will steer him away from his goal, but what’s an angel if he doesn’t help people out now and then? There are opportunities to change the appearance of Talorel, some of which are forced, as the clothes that he crash lands on Earth with will not look quite right to roaming inquisitors. They are more likely to send him to Hell than allow him to return to Heaven.
The artwork, characters, good puzzles and the storyline are what makes a really good point and click adventure game. From the small amount I’ve seen, some of those elements are already firmly in place. There is still plenty of time in the development phase for Mosaic Mask too, so Heaven’s Hope has the potential to be a fantastic addition to the genre.