While the hint system has no technical flaws, it doesn’t really provide adequate hints for solving puzzles. If you are stuck on where to place cogs in the door puzzle, tough luck; Salome and Azael only tell you that you need to get out of the room. Additionally, if you’re unsure about where to find something to advance the plot, or even what you’re supposed to be looking for, they offer no specific help for that either. So while a nice idea in theory, the hint system ends up being practically useless when you really need it. There is a much more helpful skip option for two or three challenges that somewhat over-zealously kick in if you don’t get it right within a minute or two, which I ended up very much appreciating for the obstacle course.
The pretty backgrounds are all hand-painted and the characters animated in 3D, though drawn in the same style as the environments so the two mesh together perfectly. A darker color palette is used, with a lot of greys and muted greens; Talorel’s “borrowed” green jacket is pretty much the brightest part of the landscape. The whole town has a stylized, crooked feel to it, with not many straight lines used in any of the structures. There is a small amount of ambient animation, mainly characters moving around and the occasional bird to make the world feel more alive, which is a nice touch.
All locations are set in and around Heaven’s Hope, both indoor and out, including scenes of a windmill, a bell tower, thatch-covered homes, cobblestone streets, a cemetery, and more. But my favorites are by far the library and the science lab, as both are packed with detail. The library is charming and evokes a quiet, old-style feel with comfy chairs and lamp lighting, and the laboratory is eclectic in its decor, consisting of both scientific instruments and random junk left lying around.
Character models are quite varied, with no two looking even remotely similar. Talorel seems to have been vaguely inspired by Tim Burton, though part of that could be the combination of “burned-up crash outfit” and “clothes I’ve stolen from a scarecrow” attire. Vladic, the rotund town smuggler, should have looked ridiculous in his enormous coat, red scarf and oversized top hat, but it actually works. The cutscene flashbacks of heaven are hand-painted as well, though in a sketchier, rougher style than the game itself. Really the only problem with the visual presentation is that it snaps out of sync with the audio at several points, leaving the characters moving their mouths after they’ve stopped talking, which looks really strange.
Voice acting for the various characters is passable, with some performances definitely stronger than others. There are a few places where the delivery trips up, particularly for Salome and Azael, but I wouldn’t classify even these as “bad” by any means. Talorel’s off-beat delivery is endearing and in keeping with his awkwardness as a whole. The music and sound design are nicely done, but I must admit I noticed the sound effects more than the actual background score, which sometimes leaves lengthy periods of silence in between. Effects are frequent, though: I loved the squeaks that little Furball made every time I used her for something, and I found the strange “blorp” sound when using items pretty funny, at least after the first couple times when I thought I’d broken something.
There are a few translation errors in the subtitles, mostly typos which don’t affect gameplay and aren’t frequent enough to be really irritating. However, some things have clearly been translated differently, such as “resuscitated” instead of “resurrected.” You can tell what the original intent is in most of the discrepancies, but there were a few times I suspected the translation actually interfered with my understanding, specifically during a puzzle that involved rearranging urns in the cemetery. These issues are more of the frustrating sort than the “throw the game down in anger” variety, but it does display an unfortunate lack of polish.
Overall, Heaven’s Hope is an entertaining and beautiful game, with an interesting plot hook, engaging characters and only a few design and technical weaknesses holding it back. It’s fairly lengthy, too, taking me approximately 12 hours to complete, and still leaves room at the end for the possibility of a very welcome sequel. Despite the implied subject matter, there are very few religious themes throughout, and nothing at all preachy about the story, so anyone can enjoy it. If you’re a fan of classic adventure games, a fantasy enthusiast or just interested in angelic mythology, this game may just be the answer to your prayers.