Best known for its choice-based interactive stories like 80 Days and Steve Jackson's Sorcery!, indie UK studio inkle is now setting its sights on their first graphic adventure in the form of Heaven's Vault.
Players will control Aliya Elasra, an archeologist who travels with her robot sidekick Six in search of a missing robotocist to "the Nebula, an ancient network of scattered moons." There the two of you will "discover lost sites, freely explore ancient ruins, and translate the inscriptions you find to unlock the secrets of the Nebula's forgotten past." An entire unique language has been created exclusively for this game, and "the ancient glyphs you’ll encounter as you explore all have meanings. These meanings combine into words, and the words form the fragments and phrases you’ll find inscribed on the scattered artefacts and ruins of the Nebula." Translating this "lost language of the ancients" is no linear, pretermined matter, however, as each inscription contributes to "a massive interlocking puzzle with a unique narrative twist: the translations you choose feed back into story, changing Aliya's ideas about what she's uncovered. But be warned – you'll never know for sure if your guesses are correct."
You will guide Aliya through diverse locations like "ruined palaces, desert moons, market towns and thriving farming villages," presented in semi-realistic backgrounds and more stylized characters. You can navigate this open world environment in a non-linear fashion that "allows you to approach the story in any order, with every choice you make and every path you follow (or don't follow) feeding into what happens next." Along the way you will meet a variety of characters, including Yazi, the "labourer out for revenge against his former employer by any means; or Huang, the bookish nerd with a crush; or Mina, the heiress keen to escape her over-bearing father." You'll soon find that "some are friendly, some are cautious, and some are out to con you – but whoever they are, they will remember everything you say and do. Remember: everyone in the Nebula wants something."
There is no firm release date yet for Heaven's Vault, but adventurous epigraphists should have the game in hand on Windows, Mac and PS4 sometime this year, with an iOS version to follow later. To learn more about the game in the meantime, be sure to check out the official website.