Some of my fondest gaming memories come from playing point-and-click adventure games because they usually manage to cover all the things that will make me really enjoy a game: memorable characters, detailed environments, low-pressure gameplay, an interesting story, and puzzles. It’s a genre that’s changed visually over the years, moving from 2D hand-drawn environments and characters, through that awkward 3D stage, to the more explorable deeper environments we have now like those of Life is Strange. As much as I love the genre’s new form, I still have a bias towards the more traditional 2D hand-drawn environments of games like the Lucas Arts titles of the early 90s, so I was delighted to see Heaven’s Hope, the first title from Mosaic Mask Studios, making a return to that style in a manner similar to Broken Sword 5.
Heaven’s Hope is the story of Talorel, an angel who has fallen from heaven and finds himself without his halo or wings on Earth in the 19th century near a town called Heaven’s Hope. Talorel must deal with the town’s puritanical Inquisition to regain his wings and return to heaven before St Peter realises he’s missing. Although slightly silly, it’s a refreshingly different story and it has enough twists and turns and a clear enough objective to hold your interest. The game also has a good, tongue-in-cheek sense of humour and although it sometimes verges on excessive with its use of cultural references to get laughs (the developers are definitely Monty Python fans), I frequently found myself chuckling.
One of the most appealing parts of Heaven’s Hope is its visuals. The game’s 2D backgrounds are all beautifully hand-drawn with rich colours and a kind of Tim Burton-esque edge that really brings out the dark oppressive atmosphere of the town of Heaven’s Hope. Part of the fun in this game is going into a new location and poring over the background details. The design of the 3D animated characters is also excellent; the extended cast of the game all have their own interesting looks and their personalities are distinct and interesting enough that conversing with them is never a chore.
It’s unfortunate, then, that it’s the game’s protagonist who falls short as a character. It’s a common in point-and-click adventures to have a charismatic and engaging main character whose wit and likeability make them easy for the player to connect to. Talorel just doesn’t have this, and I often found myself more interested in what the game’s supporting characters had to say. This is in part because of the voice acting in the English dub of the game; the performance for Talorel’s character just wasn’t good enough to make him an engaging protagonist. As funny as some of his lines were on paper, they were often delivered in a flat tone that made them feel forced and awkward and it really detracted from my overall enjoyment of the game.
When it comes to point and click adventures, though, it’s not just about the characters, it’s also about the puzzles and Heaven’s Hope does well in this department. Even the best point and click adventures have puzzles that are overly lateral but fortunately they don’t appear all that often in Heaven’s Hope. Most of the puzzles are enjoyably complex but coherent enough that you’ll never find yourself stuck for too long. The game also has a good hint system that nudges you just the right amount towards solutions so that you don’t feel they were handed to you, as well as a handy notepad that keeps track of your progress.
At around 12 hours, Heaven’s Hope is a good length to occupy you for a few evenings of play and it’s more than enough time to tell Talorel’s story. What should really be remembered about Heaven’s Hope is that it was created by a very small team of people and, considering this is their debut title, I’d say they’ve done a really good job. Heaven’s Hope isn’t the best point-and-click game I’ve ever played, it doesn’t really do anything to stand above the rest and I doubt I’d choose it over Broken Sword or Monkey Island for a replay, but it’s fun with a wonderful art style, making it absolutely worth playing if you’re a fan of the genre.
Heaven’s Hope is available to purchase now on Steam for £15.99
Images via Steam