Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Heaven Dust
Heaven Dust begins in a spooky mansion slash evil laboratory full of zombies and puzzlingly lethal interior design. With nothing but a handful of bullets and a severely limited amount of green herbs, you must survive all horror in this residence of evil. Folks, it’s Resident Evil. And yet it’s not! Heaven Dust may have the gall to incorporate pretty much every big feature of the classic survival horror, but that’s just what makes this game so great.
When I say that Heaven Dust has the gall to so closely resemble Resident Evil, I mean that in a good way. Too long have we been beaten down, under the yolk of intellectual property laws. Ok, I’m being a little facetious. But I respect any developer who is unafraid to take something already liked and recreate it as their own. Heaven Dust is not a caricature, but rather a faithful love letter to the historic survival horror game we know and love.
Barring an isometric rather than a series of fixed cameras, this title very accurately captures the feel of the original Resident Evil, though this time a bit more chibi. Fight off the shamblers in this unholy place of science. Read lots of conspicuous notes left about. Solve puzzles relating to expensive oil paintings, machine-filled statues, and any other piece of home decor turned into security systems. It’s a nostalgic delight.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
Like any Resident Evil title, the character begins trapped in a small locale. By finding key items to open doors and passages, you are allowed to roam further and further throughout the mansion. It would be something of a puzzle-adventure game, were it not for the zombies roaming about. There are some fun new features too. The layout of the mansion is new, and there’s a vending machine where you can buy rumors and maps and other goodies. But for the most part, Heaven Dust is a fairly accurate imitation.
Resident Evil works pretty well, I think we can agree. If even 1/10th of that magic was to be captured by Heaven Dust, that would make it a fantastic experience. And in my opinion, it captures a lot more than 10%. The music, the feel of the gun, the zombies that wake up when you walk too close, all of this is just so well executed. And unless you’re a good shot, you will be too.
The one thing that Heaven Dust lacks is some good and true scares. Sure, there are points where you’ll be trapped in a room with a few zombos, But this doesn’t hold the same terror as encountering your first licker or the zumbafied dogs or even just walking down a hallway without knowing what to expect. Heaven Dust is great, but it’s far from perfect.
How To Fix It:
I’m not sure the devs wanted Heaven Dust to be truly scary. But if they did, they could add a fog of war mechanic, where you can’t see what’s down the hallways you’re not looking at. Or alternatively, the power is out in much of the mansion, and you must walk around in the dark with a flashlight. And of course, some more varieties of zambonis would be great, though I’d imagine they’re saving that for Heaven Dust 2. Which looks really cool and is out now.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as they say. Ask any DOOM modder what makes the mods great and the answer is that DOOM itself retains its soul within the game no matter how drastic the changes are. Usually. Heaven Dust is more or less an imitation. But it’s also creating something new with the formula of the old. And in that, it is absolutely worth your time.
You can buy Heaven Dust on Steam by clicking here.