“I feel like I’m knockin’ on Hevn’s door”
Remember those missions in games like Mass Effect where you would save the space miners from alien attacks or the space crazies? Remember thinking how cool it might be not even being the hero, but just doing something like having a job in outer space? Well look no further, because Hevn promises to take you to infinity and beyond when it comes to traversing the stars and the final frontier.
Well, okay, maybe not something that exotic.
The opening sequence informs you via short exposition dumps that prior to the game’s beginning a lot has gone on on Earth. War, famine, disease, all of your biblical-scale cataclysms. Naturally, mankind’s greed was to blame where overpopulation wasn’t, and so we took to the stars in hopes of finding new ways to sustain our lifestyles. This, naturally, didn’t go well either but in ways that none of us could have expected.
You play Sebastian Mar, a miner who has woken up from hyper sleep to do what all blue collar workers do best: labor intensively with aspirations towards the “American dream”. You’re part of a rotating crew that is assigned mining an asteroid in space for rare heavy metals in order to earn cota, i.e. the modern world order’s currency, to send back home to support your family and your record shatteringly long distance girlfriend.
The demo I played was short, and spent most of its time exploring the mining vessel and receiving details about Sebastian through his endeavors as well as some mission briefings on what it is your team is supposed to do. You know your team mostly by name only, though there are some dialogue drops that insinuate that you are all fairly familiar with each other.
What I enjoyed the most was perhaps one of the smallest but most meaningful little add-ons onto my personal tablet: a way by which to communicate with anyone I was connected to from offworld. Mostly it consisted of what were either tweets or short emails between my character’s girlfriend and myself, but a few were interdepartmental messages as well. Blips would show up in my upper left hand corner informing me I had a message, and from whom. From there I could simply flip out my tablet and choose from one of four responses (the last being to opt for no response at all). It’s a small detail, but I feel a realistic addition to what might actually help a person in Sebastian’s position cope with the feeling of isolation. I’m not sure how in depth of a feature it will be in the full game, but I do hope to see it expanded upon for the full release.
The game handled smoothly for the most part, and looked very nice as well. The controls were mostly seamless with Sebastian being incredibly easy to control and maneuver. Interaction with the environment might have been a little too easy going though, as at one point in time I had a Bethesda-level horde fest in which I decided to test exactly how much stuff I could throw in my inventory before I either filled up or broke the game.
For the record, office chairs do not fit as seamlessly into one’s pocket as you may hope.
All in all, the game looks very nice. I was reminded of a slightly brighter and roomier Nostromo (but without the porn mag cut outs on the walls). The mining vessel layout was also very nicely designed, easy to remember with ease of access to everything the player might need.
It wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine however, as Hevn did commit one cardinal sin of game design of which I am not a fan, and that was giving me all information at once and making me read it too. Information dumps like these I feel are highly ineffective ways to teach your players anything, as they’re not very likely to remember anything unless they take notes. Now, to be fair, everything that I read for instructions I was able to pocket for later reference, but it’s still a little taxing on time that I would rather use to spend exploring the beautiful level a dev team has put together while becoming immersed in the story that is promising to unfold over time.
This is, of course, a minor complaint in the wake of things, and Hevn shows a great deal of promise for being in such a beginning stage for development. I can’t wait to find out more about what’s happened with Earth and what is going to happen to Sebastian and his crew. The team working on Hevn states that they are taking inspiration from classics the like of System Shock and Deus Ex, and are working their hardest to ensure that the environments are lush and interactive with an absorbing narrative. I am looking forward to what Hevn has in store!