Symposium: Heaven’s Vault, April 2, 2020


This month, we look at Heaven’s Vault (2019). It is available on Steam, GoG, and PS4.

To start the conversation, play (or watch) at least the first hour of Heaven’s Vault (2019). This will give you a good idea of the use of language within the game. One of the first major choices, and the axis around which the game’s themes turn, is the interpretation of an ancient language and how it affects how characters think about the past and plan for the future. During different points in the game, decisions can be made around not only which characters to support and include on your journey, but also how an ancient civilization is contextualized through fragments of its language and their connection to each other.

A concept we will probably discuss in connection to this game is linguistic determinism (and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis). How much does language affect our ability to think outside of it? And, in connection to Heaven’s Vault (2019), how has the competing stories of the “heaven’s vault” come to define the characters in the story and how they understand their world(s)?

Generally, it takes between 13-25 hours to finish the game, depending on choices made and what is explored. To exhaust all choices, upwards of 40 hours. Investing around an hour to play or watch will give you a good look into the basis of much of the game. However, experiences can differ considerably between players, so we will also probably discuss what we saw and who we decided to side with at different points or what places we invested more time in exploring. For those able to finish it (or watch the final choices), we will also discuss what happens with the titular location and how different character’s interpretations affect its meaning.

We will meet on Discord at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST.


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