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The Nebula of Heaven’s Vault unfolds with the calmness and precision of origami. It takes a while for the story to unfold, but it rewards patience and care. By the time you realize what’s really going on, you’d be hard pressed to stop exploring; just one more moon, one more artifact, one more translation. You have to know.

There’s a brilliant symmetry here between the hunger of a fiction reader–who has to find out what happens next–and that of the academic, who needs to fill the holes in her theory. Those seemingly disparate urges become one in Inkle’s latest game, a masterful adventure game-cum-RPG about archaeology in an ancient future.

And yet Heaven’s Vault is a game very much defined by the capricious pace of its galactic rivers, flowing with maddening slowness at times before sweeping you up in a breakneck rapid of revelations and discoveries. Like any game without a clear peer–one can make comparisons to Inkle’s own 80 Days, or to Myst, or to any number of visual novels, but the fit will always be imprecise at best–Heaven’s Vault is, of necessity, an experiment that doesn’t always succeed. Its pacing can exasperate and its lush 3D environments …read more