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Text-based developer Inkle goes visual with sci-fi game ‘Heaven’s Vault’

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Inkle has earned acclaim for revitalizing text-based adventure games, so the rich visuals of Heaven's Vault mark an exciting and ambitious departure for the developer.

Inkle, the developer behind the fantastic mobile text adventure 80 Days and the Sorcery series announced its most ambitious project yet: Heaven’s Vault, a visual adventure coming to mobile, desktop, and consoles. Described as “a character-driven graphic novel crossed with an open-world adventure game,” Inkle has been developing this sci-fi saga since it completed 80 Days.

The Nebula. A network of rivers, flowing from one moon to the next, carrying air and water between scattered clusters of civilization. No one knows how the Nebula was formed. No one knows how it will end,” Inkle’s promotional text reads.

You play as archaeologist Aliya “El” Elasra and her reluctant robot assistant Six to explore this mysterious setting and “piece together a complex past — and discover a secret that will change the future.” Expect Inkle’s usual standard of fantastic writing and nuanced, conversation-driven gameplay. Other cited gameplay influences that seem to be expanding their repertoire include “the animation and real-time storytelling of The Last Express,” “the open worlds of Shadow of the Colossus, Firewatch and The Witcher 3,” “the puzzle-solving of The Witness,” and “the translation puzzle of Infocom’s classic game Infidel.

Contrasting Inkle’s previous, predominantly text-based gameplay, Heaven’s Vault will be fully realized in a unique style that integrates hand-drawn, 2D characters into 3D environments. They mention the graphic novels of Möebius and Hergé as visual influences, as well as the character art of The Banner Saga. Miscellaneous inspiration also includes Indiana Jones, Stargate, the novels of Raymond Chandler and Gene Wolfe, Islamic art and architecture, and the work of Dr. Monica Hanna in protecting Egypt’s antiquities. All together it sounds like a compelling stew of gameplay, aesthetic, and world-building ideas, made all the more exciting because of its developer’s strong and interesting track record.

There is no release window yet for Heaven’s Vault, but you can follow the development updates on the game’s official site.