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IGF-winning archeology game Heaven's Vault out today on Switch

Will you find the path?

After a lengthy wait, the award-winning Heaven's Vault is finally available on Switch. Read the press release below to see what the game has to offer.

Heaven's Vault, an archaeological narrative game with a massive branching storyline and an entire ancient language to decipher, is now available on Nintendo Switch for $17.99 / £14.99 / €15.99.

A Lost Language Reveals a Buried Past

Set in a strange region of space called the Nebula, Heaven's Vault is a vast and incredibly flexible narrative game that shapes its story around your every decision.

You are archeologist Aliya Elasra, on a mission with your robot assistant Six to track down a missing roboticist who left a trail of ancient relics in his wake. Sail to the very edge of Aliya's world to solve a historical mystery that can only be understood by translating the long-lost language of her ancestors -- a massive linguistic puzzle that will reveal the region's earliest secrets, if you can crack it.

Following its initial PC and PS4 release, Heaven's Vault won the IGF's Excellence in Narrative award and was recognized by the New Yorker, BAFTA, Mashable, Paste, GamesIndustry.biz, and others as one of 2019's best games. The game is developed by inkle, creators of 80 Days, which is also available for Nintendo Switch.

This new version of Heaven's Vault has been optimized for Nintendo Switch and can be enjoyed in both console and handheld mode. With each new playthrough the story changes, the translation puzzles become more complex, and you'll dig ever deeper into the Nebula's forgotten past.

Will you find the path to Heaven's Vault?

Heaven's Vault - more gameplay

When a talented roboticist goes missing, archaeologist Aliya Elasra and her robot assistant Six are sent onto the rivers of the Nebula to find him. Their search soon has them piecing together an ancient trail of artefacts, inscriptions, and lost knowledge that leads thousands of years into the past...

IGF-winning archeology game Heaven's Vault coming to Switch on Jan. 28th, 2021

Heaven sent

Heaven's Vault was announced for Switch quite some time ago, but now we have a release date to look forward to. The game comes out on Jan. 28th, 2021, and you can read a recap for it below.

In the Nebula, far-flung moons are linked by a network of rivers in the sky... but the rivers are drying up.

Robots once moved freely among humans... until the robots were buried, along with their secrets.

An extinct civilization foretold the future... in a language no one remembers.

Aliya Elasra is an archeologist. And she's after the truth.

Aliya and SixThe Nebula

Releasing on Nintendo Switch on January 28, Heaven's Vault is an open-world narrative game with a massive branching storyline and an entire ancient language to decipher.

Following its initial PC and PS4 release, Heaven's Vault won the IGF's Excellence in Narrative award and was recognized by the New Yorker, BAFTA, Mashable, Paste, GamesIndustry.biz, and others as one of 2019's best games. The game is developed by inkle, creators of 80 Days, which is also available for Nintendo Switch.

This new version of Heaven's Vault has been optimized for the Nintendo Switch console and includes both Joy-Con and touch screen controls. It will sell for $17.99 / £14.99 / €15.99 as a Nintendo eShop download.

About the Game

Join Aliya and her robot sidekick, Six, to sail in search of lost sites, explore ancient ruins, and translate inscriptions that could unlock the secrets of the Nebula's past and provide the key to its future.

Heaven's Vault is an incredibly flexible narrative experience with a complex linguistic puzzle at its core. Every decision you make -- and every translation you guess -- feeds back into the story to weave a tale that changes and expands each time you replay it.

Heaven's Vault devs on the importance of letting players get things wrong

I might be wrong...

A lot of today's games go out of their way to show the player what to do. Devs and pubs are afraid to leave players hanging, as frustration can lead to a player bowing out of a game. The problem is, now we have games that overcompensate, and they never let the player truly figure anything out.

In an interview with Gamasutra, dev Jon Ingold talks about why they let the player get things wrong in Heaven's Vault, and how it enhances the experience.

Following up on mis-translations fell out of the language mechanic’s design. But it also felt right: we wanted to make a game about archaeology, and archaeology is not about getting things “right”. You can’t ever know if you’ve interpreted a find, or a culture, correctly. You have to make the best guess you can; but you have to be open to changing your interpretation if new evidence comes to life.

Games are often very cautious of allowing that kind of ambiguity: there’s this urge to let players “complete” a game - to “master” it. We wanted to push back against that and say: here’s a world for you to discover, explore, contemplate, and never really understand. My favorite science-fiction has that sense of mystery: whether it’s in the hints of an ancient history in Star Wars or the bizarre, hard-to-parse worlds of Gene Wolfe and Jack Vance.

Heaven's Vault dev details the process of making investigative conversations

Taking things deeper

According to the developer of Heaven's Vault, the game has three major pillars; exploration, translation and conversation. Of the three, conversation proposed the most unique challenges. In a blog on the game, dev Jon Ingold discusses how the team approached conversation in order to make it deeper than what most games provide.

With conversation as a game pillar, we wanted to make dialogue vital, and make characters who are rich, and meaningful, and are full of hidden depths. I outlined the approach we took to Heaven’s Vault’s dialogue in a talk at Adventure X in 2018 entitled “Sparkling Dialogue”, which goes through the process of determining the subtext of each major scene, and then building choices and responses in order to reinforce and develop that subtext. The goal is to create scenes which are dramatically interesting while still giving the player freedom.

However, that strategy only covers half the problem. In interactive scenes, the player is not simply a participant in conversation, they have goals as well - often, they have several. In a game like Heaven’s Vault, the player usually has dozens of “open questions” which they are researching, and will want to be able to ask relevant characters about.

Full blog here

Inkle announces 80 Days and Heaven's Vault for release on Switch

Two more lined up for Switch

Indie dev Inkle has confirmed that both 80 Days and Heaven's Vault are going to see release on Switch. 80 Days is due out Oct. 1st, 2019, while Heaven's Vault will come sometime in early 2020. Check out info on each game below.

About 80 Days

Winner of the IGF’s Excellence in Narrative award, named one of 2014’s top video games by Time magazine, and recipient of four BAFTA nominations, 80 Days mixes old-school text adventures with strategic board games and RPGs to create a vast and infinitely replayable interactive story.

Playing as the French valet Passepartout, use strategy and cunning to help Phileas Fogg win a hefty bet before the clock runs out. Choose your route, manage your finances, interact with hundreds of diverse characters, see the world, and lose yourself in this massive, branching adventure as you attempt to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days — or faster!

80 Days has been fully optimized for Nintendo Switch, with every part of the user interface redesigned or reconsidered for play with either Jon-Con controllers or touch screen functionality. It also has resizable text for comfortable reading in both handheld and docked modes. This definitive version includes all of the content incrementally added to the adventure since 80 Days’ initial release: find the lost city of Atlantis, join a North Pole expedition, go over Niagara Falls, team up with notorious jewel thief the Black Rose, and even journey to the moon!

About Heaven’s Vault

Honored by the Guardian as one of the best games of 2019 so far, Heaven’s Vault is an ambitious open-world adventure with a massive branching storyline and an entire lost language to decipher.

You are archeologist Aliya Elasra, on a mission with your robot assistant Six to track down a missing academic who has left a trail of ancient relics in his wake. Sail to the far reaches of the Nebula to solve a historical mystery that can only be understood by translating the long-lost language of Aliya’s ancestors — a massive linguistic puzzle that will reveal the region’s earliest secrets to those who manage to crack it.

But your translations could be wrong, and you’ll never know. Heaven’s Vault adapts with a story that seamlessly, fluidly reflects your choices — a story that will be different for every person who plays it.

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