Inkle, the studio behind the superb video game adaptations of Steve Jackson's Sorcery and the breathtaking Verne-inspired 80 Days, has announced that its enormously ambitious archaeological adventure Heaven's Vault will be coming to PlayStation 4 and PC on April 16th.
Heaven's Vault is described as a "huge, incredibly flexible" narrative game that "seamlessly, fluidly" adapts to players' choices as their story unfolds. It follows the adventures of archeologist Aliya Elasra, who, with a little help from her robot companion Six, must plot a course across a world known as the Nebula in search of a missing academic.
As with Inkle's previous interactive-fiction-style games, Heaven's Vault is a story-focussed, non-linear adventure, that's heavy on the (invariably well-written) text - albeit this time expanded out into a fully-3D, and strikingly designed, world.
Here, your exploratory investigations take the form of on-foot roaming (with these segments playing out in a loosely similar style to a point-and-click game), and slightly more arcade-y sailing as you navigate slipstreams in your little ship to reach exotic new locales.
At Heaven's Vault's core, however, is what Inkle is calling a "massive linguistic puzzle", requiring players to decipher the long-lost language of Aliya's ancestors. Inkle stresses, however, that your translations could easily be wrong, and you might never know.
Inkle's previous games, 80 Days in particular, have been wonderful things - elegant, nuanced, with some dazzling world-building, despite most of the heavy lifting being done through text rather than flashy visuals. As such, it'll be fascinating to see how the studio's strengths translate to an experience that emphasises far richer audio-visual presentation.