posted by OnyersixTags: bent spoon games, bentspoon, Girl With A Heart Of
Gamers these days are spoilt. Every year sees video game characters looking more and more lifelike, and the games themselves are often epic adventures over many, many hours. I come from a generation that saw text adventures occupy our time, and also taught us big words like “inventory”. Today’s gamer rarely has much input on an otherwise linear story. Even the interactive conversations usually force you to commit to a particular direction of dialogue.
Girl With A Heart Of offers a chance to return to the days of the text adventure. The player takes on the role of Raven, an eleven-year-old girl, who wakes in a stranger’s house, separated from her parents.
My first reaction to the game was to immediately wonder why all the other people in the town seemed to have dark blue skin, while Raven has a pinkish Caucasian appearance. This is quickly explained as a side effect of the town being underground, in the Dark. This is due to the fact that you are on a world with 2 suns. Inhabitants of the Dark are in conflict with the Light, who are the people that live on the surface. Dark citizens are only safe on the surface during the short time when both suns have set.
The player learns through conversation with NPCs (Non-Player Characters) that the planet’s core is made from concentrated Dark, which seeps to the surface, creating the tunnels that Raven’s town are built in. That being said, concentrated Dark is harmful to the people of the town, so they can only live so far underground.
Raven becomes tasked with protecting the town from the current attack by the Light’s forces. She is trained to use magic by the town’s wizard, who has had a special interest in Raven throughout her entire life, though she was unaware. This is because Raven’s heart is special, with the capacity to withstand and absorb the differing magic essences, including that of the Deep Dark. This allows Raven to improve certain abilities by the infusion of these essences into her heart, hence the games title. To say more would be an immense spoiler.
Over a period of in-game days you are trained and given tasks to do by the few NPCs that you can talk to. In these conversations you are given the chance to make things difficult for yourself. The first time this is presented is when you meet your mother for the first time. She is in the hospital, ill, having been stuck by a Light spell as she saved you. To reflect the power of the Light spell, Raven’s mother’s skin is also pinkish, a complete contrast to the wizard training Raven, who is very charcoal black, as if he has been working all day in a coal mine.
When you arrive in the temple, serving as the hospital, you hear a conversation through a door, and have the option to stand and listen, or knock and go in. I chose to listen, and overheard that Raven’s mother has been given a week to live, at best.
You then have a conversation with Raven’s mother, who tells you that she is getting better, and will be back home in a few days. You are offered the chance to confess that you have overheard the conversation, or lie, and agree that she will indeed get better.
There are many of these tests, including being asked to do a task without telling anyone else, as it is ethically questionable. Everyone else you speak to has the option to suggest what you have been asked to do, but doing so often results in word mysteriously getting back to the person asking you to keep it a secret.
I found this flexibility similar to the variety of chat options on offer in games such as Fallout 3 and Mass Effect, and this was quite refreshing.
Things start getting rather strange as it draws nearer to the impending fight with the Light forces. I began to feel that the game was trying to force me to take a certain course of action by repeatedly offering it to me. I refused, and chose to stick to my own convictions. I then died as soon as I got to the Light area. This just causes a restart from the moment before you went to the fight.
I was hoping that I might be able to secure the town, and possibly see some of the surface, but it appears that the game is rather short.
I am intrigued to see what different essences are possible to attain, depending on your conversational choices.
Finally I gave up and tried the way I was resisting. I was presented with a “what happened next”, and the credits rolled. This makes the game fundamentally flawed in the same way that many people were upset with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Why build a game that you offer the player a certain choice and style, then blatantly introduce a mechanic that forces them down the same path as everyone else?