HEVN Review – A Dark, Atmospheric Survival Game
Developer: MigaHEVN is a deeply atmospheric survival game from Seattle based developers Miga and will more than remind you of the epic brilliance that permeated the System Shock series. The narrative is similar, set in a future where mankind is struggling and at breaking point, the generations of population explosion on the Earth has left it overcrowded. Centuries of exploitation of it’s environment has all but destroyed it’s Ozone layer and the atmosphere has become unbearably warm. Technological advances have led to political conflict and strife, with some factions wishing to return to a simpler, non-technological future and advocating resistance against the government. The background of the narrative contains all the hall marks of a good dystopian Science Fiction thriller and as the Earth and human society begins to crumble, you as Sebastian Mar decides to join a dangerous mining mission is far flung space.
Hevn is an incredibly immersive, story driven experience, waking from cryogenic suspension to a series of freezing corridors you immediately feel that your life is already in danger. Using the tools which you have found through exploration of this initial area, you eventually find your way out and to the first of a series of hubs which make up the station. Eventually you are given objectives by the disembodied voice of a co-worker and you find hacking tools and evidence of a malevolent life form which has invaded the colony. Exploration of the game environment is key to survival and uncovering the mystery which surrounds this desolate planet.
There’s obviously been a lot of thought concerning how the player can use the various devices at their disposal to hack doors and to uncover background events. Digital tablets containing news from Earth can be read and as you swipe through each page it’s difficult not to be impressed with the quality of their prose. The Hacking utility you discover early in the game has you watching a series of numbers cycle, waiting for a number to turn green. Once this happens you press the action key to lock that number in the sequence and the device moves to the next possible number. Everything in the game has been designed to immerse the player in the story or to directly involve the player in someway.
This level of detail even spills out into the world’s environment, with fully realised day / night cycles to further create a feeling of a truly simulated world space. It’s a truly impressive feat which projects a feeling of constant threat from the environment and the indigenous species in a way very few games can. Later you will hunt for resources, which are finite and fend off aliens with a variety of tools and weapons. This brings a sense of diversity to the gameplay mechanics and keeps you engaged and invested in not just the overall narrative but also in your characters survival.
Graphically the game, can at times, seem fairly unimpressive and some of the voice actors can seem stilted and uninterested. These moments can remove you from the sense of immersion which the developers have worked hard to consistently maintain. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to shake that feeling and get right back into solving the mysteries of your environment again.
This is an impressive title which, if you enjoy the merging of survival and story driven narrative, is one you should definitely try. It’s great to see developers play with traditional motifs and inject some innovative gameplay mechanics. It’s a dark and moody experience which will resonate and stay with you long after you resolve it’s twisting mysteries.
This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.