25 November 2011

Girl with a Heart of

Gaming Genres: Action-Adventure
Story Genres: Fantasy
Graphical Styles: 2D, Hand-Drawn, Cartoon
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS
Pricing Model: Pay $
Developer(s): Bent Spoon Games
Publisher(s): Bent Spoon Games
Initial Release Date: October 19, 2011
Website(s): Homepage
Beneath the planet's surface, you have to cast aside your assumptions. Darkness is not your enemy, but Light's army is about to reduce your town to ash. In this 2D interactive narrative, take the role of Raven, an eleven year old girl, who learns that she is the key piece in stopping the inevitable destruction of her town. Now, she has to understand the unfolding events, struggle to solve the challenges facing her, and define herself through difficult choices that will have far-reaching consequences. As Raven, you will interact with multiple interesting characters, explore a beautiful fantasy world, make lasting decisions, learn Dark magic, and, if you are clever enough, gain infinite power.

Set in Underfoot, a subterranean city inhabited by the Dark race, Girl with a Heart of is the story of Raven, an eleven-year-old girl separated from her parents during a vicious attack by the Light's army. As her city's last defenses slowly crumble and her sense of normalcy is stripped away, Raven learns that she plays a critical role in this global conflict due to her unusual, artificial heart. Now she must learn to harness her newly acquired power and make a series of choices that will have life-altering consequences beyond her little town.

Girl with a Heart of is an interactive narrative that progresses as Raven converses with the inhabitants of her multi-level city. During these conversations, the player is confronted with choices that influence other characters' reactions and determine the flow of the story. The "correct" choices are not always straightforward; decisions that seem good can actually be detrimental and players must use rationality and logic to succeed. The unfolding narrative is accompanied by stylized graphics that depict a world where darkness, not light, is the primary life source.

Girl with a Heart of is a new action adventure by the new indie developer Bent Spoon Games. Its most redeeming feature is the wide use of choice in its narrative but, unfortunately, the most obvious aspect of the entire game is the unpolished nature of it. From the very start, with the games logo, it is obvious that both the game has very little polish, outside of the dialogue, and that this is probably a new developer with little experience.

The list of problems is quite long. The text is horrible looking, the game is quite short, and while there is a RPG and combat system there is almost no combat whatsoever.

But all of that does not have to ruin a game with redeeming features. And far more then any other game this game's narrative feels like real narrative, not at all unpolished. You seem to be constantly barraged with natural choices that effect the game world. These choices are given in both a obvious fashion (e.g. answering "Yes" or "No" to a question) and non obvious fashions (e.g. simply telling someone about a particular part of your day). It feels like you are having a real non-scripted conversation with someone when you have to remember their history and make sure never to tell them something without weighing the consequences. This makes one common way of playing, that I use a lot, absolutely obsolete. You cannot just exhaust your dialogue tree as many options in it are choice making to use and absolutely do not give you any warning. It also makes it very replayable.

Images (+):
Related Media (+):
Indieness: Quintessentially Indie


  1. Added a link to the blog post "Postmortem: Addressing Reviews" by the developer to the Related Media section.

    1. First time here - I was puzzled by your comment until I C-fed for 'Related Media' and wondered what the bizarre little + symbol was for. These pages are not so big that you need to save space like that! For god's sake, get rid of the default collapsed state, or most visitors will probably never even realize there were links and additional material.

    2. I got to disagree with you Gwern. The entire gallery of images in every post and sometimes entire walkthroughs make it not very realistic to show all content.

      Sure in pretty much every case the Related Media section could be shown, but I believe that it looks better without that content and that most people do not need to see it.

  2. Now on sale for 100% off on Beam Dog, credit card info required.