80 Days developer unveils open-world adventure game Heaven's Vault

Inkle, the developer behind globetrotting narrative game 80 Days and Fighting Fantasy adaptation Sorcery!, has revealed its next project at GDC. Heaven's Vault is a "character-driven graphic novel crossed with an open-world adventure game" that Inkle describes as its "most ambitious, beautiful and complex game to date."

Having rebuilt its bespoke Ink engine, Inkle's latest boasts a lovely hand-drawn aesthetic that's said to be inspired by Islamic art, architecture and calligraphy, as well as the character art of Stoic's Banner Saga. 

Stargate and Indiana Jones make up some its wider influences, as does the novels of Raymond Chandler and Gene Wolfe. The open worlds of Shadow of the Colossus, Firewatch and The Witcher 3 play a part in its makeup too. Animation-wise, Heaven's Vault looks to emulate the real-time storytelling of The Last Express, while puzzles draw from Jonathan Blow's The Witness. 

That's quite the mixed back of influences which stand to mould protagonist Aliya Elasra's story: an archaeologist who studies the complicated history of her homeland Nebula. Alongside automaton companion Six, the pair set out to "piece together a complex past—and discover a secret that will change the future."

It's early days yet—"the prototypes are now complete, we know what we're making, and how but there's still a lot to do and the game won't be ready for some time," says the developer—but Inkle's flair for narrative-led adventure games certainly makes this one to watch out for. 

For updates on Heaven's Vault, Inkle suggests keeping an eye on its official website