A heavenly point and click adventure.
Angels crop up quite often in popular culture. From Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life, and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s characters in Dogma, to the TV show Supernatural’s Castiel (guilty pleasure, sorry), they turn up in a variety of different roles and different imaginings. Mosaic Mask Studios are the latest to drop some angelic influence on the world with their point and click adventure Heaven’s Hope.
Players are cast in the role of Talorel, an angel who finds himself having fallen from Heaven and is stranded on Earth. Specifically, he finds himself stuck in the small 19th Century town of Heaven’s Hope – very fortunate considering the fact that Talorel must work out how to return to Heaven. But getting back through the pearly gates will be no easy task, as Talorel has lost his halo and wings, and has very little knowledge of how 19th Century Humans go about their lives. To make matters worse, the town of Heaven’s Hope is going through a second instance of the Inquisition under the rule of the fanatical Greta.
Heaven’s Hope has a pretty good set up and the potential to be a rip roaring adventure. However, as far as the story goes, it never really lives up to that potential. There are a lot of interesting and notable characters in the game, but Heaven’s Hope seems to shy away from making the most of them, leaving the vast majority either underdeveloped or underused. Popular point and click adventures manage to build a cast of memorable characters that will stay with the player long after the adventure has been completed, but sadly Heaven’s Hope’s characters are largely forgettable. And the worst offender is the main character Talorel, who does come across as rather dull. He is not unlikable in any way, just uninteresting, and while his situation could presumably lead to all manner of hilarious hijinx, the game is played with a serious undertone. There are occasional humorous moments, but they tend to just inspire a small smile rather than any chuckles.
When it comes to the gameplay, it is pretty standard fare for a point and click adventure. This is no bad thing as many new games in this genre, a genre that seems to have been revitalized in recent years, spoil things with new mechanics that just don’t work. That is not the case here, as everything plays very smoothly. Clicking somewhere on the screen will have Talorel wander over to that point, and if there is anything to interact with, a simple mouse click will make that happen. Being in a small town, there are not a massive number of different locations to explore, and players will find themselves revisiting the same locations from time to time, but the player will have relative freedom to go where they want. This can lead to some confusion as to where they need to go to progress the story, but there are a few systems in place to help with that. As is customary in many modern point and click games, players can press the space bar on the keyboard to reveal any interactive items, saving on the pixel hunting from games gone past. There is also an incredibly useful journal that keeps track of the players objectives, and a map that allows fast travel to different areas. Then there are Talorel’s two Angel friends back in Heaven, who can be called upon to give advice, although their advice often leans more towards the vague or stating the obvious.
For the most part, players will find themselves having to talk to everyone and gather various items, which will then be used to solve simple environmental puzzles. Sometimes players may have to stretch their imaginations to find solutions, but there is nothing too taxing here. For the more traditional puzzles, the game tends to use well known puzzle templates that, again, won’t cause the majority of players any problems.
The visuals are a real stand out feature of Heaven’s Hope. Beautiful, hand drawn backdrops really set the scene, feeling both atmospheric and enticing. The game may have a small playing area that frequently reuses destinations, but the stunning looks of those destinations ensure that the player will never get bored of them. The character models are also similarly well done and nicely detailed, with some really interesting looking characters that I would love to see again. The animation is mostly successful, although there are a few issues here that somewhat break the illusion. The voicework, which is often a problem with this genre, fits nicely with the characters and is pretty good.
Heaven’s Hope is a solid point and click adventure game. The story is interesting, but doesn’t live up to its potential. The characters also lack depth and could have been expanded in more interesting ways. But Heaven’s Hope is such a beautiful game, and the mechanics are all good, making for an enjoyable experience for any point and click fans. Personally, I am left looking forward to seeing what the developers Mosaic Mask Studios come up with next.