In the ongoing debate on whether or not video games can be art, one of the lynchpins is that art is supposed to have or reflect a statement about the world, pose questions about it, and elicit reactions to it. There are major releases like Heavy Rain which embody this type of marriage between video game, philosophy, and art, but that doesn’t mean that an indie developer can’t join in the fun as well.
Alexei Andreev of Bent Spoon Games is one such developer who over 11 months, starting last January conceptualized and released his very first game called Girl with a Heart Of. As noted in the press release, Andreev hopes that with his game, he can get people to think about what it means to be human and whether or not you can transcend it. It has a lofty goal, but we here at Geeking Out About wanted to see if he was able to achieve it. With review copies in hand, co-editor Jill Pullara and staff writer Jonathan Cherlin journeyed along with main character Raven to the city of Underfoot, and here’s what they had to say (with many spoilers) about the game:
- First off, I apologize for the audio quality. But I don’t blame TalkShoe at all, because I forgot my own instructions to both Jill and Jonathan and had my cell phone on speaker. I guess I’m going to have to learn how to talk and type at the same time.
- Throughout this podcast, we know that Alexei Andreev is the sole developer behind the game. He did clarify later by email that he hired artists Choo Kiau Ping and Alice Bessoni, whom he found through DeviantArt; Nick Pittsinger composed the music. Hence, the pronoun switching referring back and forth between a single creator and a development team.
- Here’s the link to Andreev’s unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign. And one thing of the nice things he noted during his campaign was this: “Anyone that donated (or will donate) at least $5 to this project will get the game for free, even if there is not enough money pledged by the end of funding period.
- If you’re like me and have never played Final Fantasy VII before, here’s a link to the in-game version of “Aerith’s Theme. “Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy” will resume touring next year; check the show calendar on the website here.
- Just in case you forgot, Jill and I went through the demo for Hector Badge of Carnage: Episode 1 a while back and really enjoyed it; watch us play it here.
- Here’s a link to the interview with Andreev at True PC Gaming.com.
- Though I haven’t seen any of Makoto Shinkai’s work, I really have to commend him for the premise behind his debut short Voices of a Distant Star.
- I’m glad that Jill and Jonathan were willing to revisit the concepts behind transhumanism; as Andreev says in the interview, he was inspired by LessWrong.com.
Once again, here’s our final take:
Girl with a Heart Of
Created by Bent Spoon Games
Designed by Alexei Andreev
Art by Choo Kiau Ping and Alice Bessoni
Music by Nick Pittsinger
Rating: 13 and up
Pros: Great music, multiple endings and ways to control the narrative, decent replayability, great fighting mechanics, good world building and mythos, ideal for a mobile platform
Cons: Not enough use of fighting mechanics, not enough substance
Jon: Girl with a Heart Of had incredible music, an appropriate art aesthetic, and good / innovative gameplay concepts. It had a good idea for a story that was, unfortunately, never brought to fruition. My other problems with it were that the music cut out after two minutes of entering any area. Also, that there was no dialect to the dialog, which made for a stale reading experience. However, I applaud the developer for creating a creative and innovative game with limited resources. But next time, either keep within a small scope or pool your resources for a bigger game.
Jill: This game clearly had a lot of heart put into it, with a world that is interesting to hear and read about, and an epic battle between light and dark always looming in the distance, and you, Raven, squarely in the middle of it all. Because your heart is special, you and you alone have the ability to stop this endless war between Light and Dark forever. Along your journey you’ll make friends out of enemies, enemies out of friends, learn magic, and have the power to influence the people around you.
This almost sounds like a Bioware game, but it’s not, it’s the indie game Girl with a Heat Of and it broke my heart.
Now there are some games that are just no good, and this is not one of them. Anyone who loves video games, and role playing games especially, will see all the good in this game, but they are also the ones this game will disappoint because this is simply a Chekov’s Gun situation.
And it’s a really big shame, because it’s these things that are being built up to, that I was really looking forward to, that never happen. At the end of the day, when I get the wall of text for the ending, I have that dropping feeling in my heart, the way my mother must have felt when I dropped out of college: You could be so much more.
I do urge you to give this game a chance, it has a lot going for it, and knowing that you may be disappointed in it may let you enjoy it more than I could, having to go into it blind. Try to enjoy it for everything it is, and not what it promises to be.