Heavily inspired by Resident Evil and games of that ilk. Heaven Dust is a throwback to the classic survival horror games of old. An exciting prospect for those who yearn for thrill and tension. However, while the indie heart of Heaven Dust beats strongly and it is a good game, it lacks in one important and fundamental area. Which is the horror part.
After some elusive and generic opening text, the game immediately drops you in with no knowledge of what you are required to actually do. Your character, a cartoonish looking man, is in a locked storeroom and must first find a way out. Once that simple task is out of the way, it quickly becomes clear that the overall goal is to escape the sprawling mansion that sits before you. All while dodging and destroying the walking dead, and more importantly, find out what happened here.
All sounds very Resident Evil, doesn’t it? When we said ‘heavily inspired’ we were not joking. Zombies, puzzles, herb combining, ammo management, safe rooms with the obligatory storage chests and limited inventory slots. It’s like sweet home away from sweet home.
It’s just a shame that its perceived difficulty, the survival part of survival horror, quickly reveals itself to be lacking. Aside from running out of ammo if you’re too gung-ho, enemies are no issue at all. Especially with the game’s auto-lock system which makes taking down the dead a breeze.
Scary? Not a chance and the cartoonish visuals and ambient music, while nice, do very little to make it feel anymore horror like. The less said about the final boss either, the better. Sticking solidly to the Resident Evil inspirations with a timed self-destruct sequence too. Solid if unexciting.
No, where Heaven Dust excels is with its puzzles. Many puzzles that nail the difficulty balance and can be easily solved by reading diaries and emails that are scattered about the mansion grounds. These also serve to bulk out the basic story and add some life and personality to the location.
Should you be really struggling though, hints are available. Bought from vending machines that are located around the mansion. These vending machines take tokens that are randomly dropped by zombies. As well as buying tips you can also buy maps for areas of the mansion, upgrade your stats such as health, movement and attack, and buy gunpower which can be combined with empty shells to create ammo. There aren’t enough tokens to get everything so you’ll have to think about what to buy carefully.
Annoyingly though, the one thing you can’t buy and most will desperately want, is a way to upgrade your inventory. Limited to 6 slots, that’s all you get and you will find yourself back-tracking constantly to a storage chest. Items you pick up early on, such as a battery or crank, will be used several times throughout the game. Right up to the very end and there’s nothing more frustrating then ploughing on ahead only to find you needed an item and didn’t have the inventory room for it.
It’s easily the game’s biggest drawback and will inadvertently extend playtime by some distance. At least until a second playthrough when a gun with infinite ammo and a ‘ninja’ suit is unlocked. The former meaning you don’t have to worry about picking up any ammo thus freeing up inventory space. The latter allowing you to sneak quietly past many of the undead.
On first playthrough, it took us around 3 hours to complete. The second… just under an hour. It’s really not a long game, highlighted by an achievement that asks you to complete it in under 30 minutes!
Chances are, most will want to attempt it too. Heaven Dust is a fun throwback with tons of references to Resident Evil. Easy to play, easy to get to grips with but not so much that even seasoned players will breeze past the many puzzles. The lack of actual ‘survival horror’ hurts its overall quality but as an indie offering, it does well enough.
The Final Score - 6.5/10