When Tim Schafer put out his Kickstarter video for the 2012 Double Fine Adventure campaign, he jokingly mentioned that all the good adventure games were being made in Germany—he was not wrong.
While many American studios are creating narrative-focused Adventure games (like Telltale), a number of European developers continue to release Point and Click Adventure games. These games revel in the nostalgic Golden Age of the 90s with hefty inventory puzzles, whimsical humor, and beautiful art work. Heaven's Hope is a wonderful example of these qualities, and a particularly effective entry point thanks to its keen puzzle organization and variety.
In a tale of reverse-Icarus, an angel flies too close to Heaven's barrier and crash lands into 19th Century Earth. Talorel, the literal fallen angel, is earnest, plucky, and determined to return to Heaven. He's accompanied by his ever-present guides and angel buddies Azael and Salome. He soon finds his way into the small town of Heaven's Hope, which has recently been all but taken over by a zealous nun. Through the dozen or so wacky inhabitants of the town, Talorel helps construct a flying machine, performs an exorcism, and restores the town to a happier state.
The classic Point and Click gameplay remains incredibly intuitive. Heaven's Hope utilizes on-screen hotspots—interactable objects and people light up when you mouse over them and various objects are gathered and used to solve puzzles.
In a nice change of variety, puzzles also include repairing machines, finishing jigsaw puzzle designs, and even a section of rudimentary platforming. In one memorable moment, Talorel is second-hand drugged, and the effects on him, your screen, and your controls becomes a brief but hilarious puzzle.
Aside from the nice puzzle variety, Talorel also keeps track of his current overarching puzzle with a very helpful notebook. It clearly spells out exactly what you need to do throughout each Act, each of which requires a multi-step process of several components. Clicking on each entry gives you some hints—another friendly feature.
Even more convenient is a map with fast travel, probably the first I've ever seen in an Adventure game. The world isn't even that large, but it definitely helps speed things along. You can also double-click to hurry Talorel up, and right click to speed through dialogue—though I quite enjoyed the voice acting. All these modern conveniences make Heaven's Hope an incredibly intuitive and easy to play Adventure.
I was less impressed with the size and scope of the world. Talorel explores the town of Heaven's Hope and the surrounding forest and farmland. A few new areas open up as you explore the catacombs beneath the church or finally access the cemetery and haunted mill. But by the time you're wandering around solving the last few puzzles, the world has gotten a bit stale, and the colourful NPCs a tad repetitive.
Puzzle-filled adventure games are often lonely affairs. Heaven's Hope loves its colourful cast, however. From Bloomford the very Doc Brown-esque scientist to Magnus the hair-challenged librarian, the residents of Heaven's Hope stand out physically thanks to their unique 3D models. The jerky, repeated animations take some getting used to, but I enjoyed the unique style. Combined with the surprisingly great voice acting, it made each NPC a memorable encounter. Though it flirts dangerously close to stereotyping in a few cases.
Like many fantastical Adventure games, Heaven's Hope is rooted firmly in humour. Talorel is bemused and astonished with Earthlings. The game loves to throw not-so-subtle references at you, from Monty Python to Ghostbusters. To its credit the references are fun and clever, and never get in the way of Talorel's quest.
The subject matter dives into its religious story head-first. Though it never gets preachy nor does it particularly say anything positive or negative about religion or Christianity. But Talorel is a real angel and the primary villain a caricature of the crazy mean nun. The exorcism at the end isn't too creepy but it could be a delicate theme for some.
The story does play with Talorel's angelic values, particularly when it comes to taking other people's inventory objects. Talorel has to first ask permission. There's one notable exception, and I enjoyed that returning the item or not is actually tied to an in-game achievement.
Thanks to numerous modern conveniences and relatively easy and linear puzzle designs, Heaven's Hope is an enjoyable, light-hearted adventure. Characters are funny, puzzles are satisfying, and the world is fun to explore.