If your favorite tropes in fiction are “mutual pining,” “enemies to lovers,” and “there was only one bed,” then buckle up gamers. Heartwood is going to be the game for you.
Developed by Decidedly Unusual Games, Heartwood follows a cast of 5 very different characters as they come together to uncover the mystery left behind on Heartwood Island after the death of Jodie Bloom. What was the cause? Who did it? That’s up to the player to find out.
Rather than play as a single character, player choices will involve each member of the main cast. These characters are:
A devious but cryptic scam artist with an interest in the outcome of the mystery.
- Leon (he/him) – A park ranger who often hears more than he should.
- Eli (he/him) – The victim’s son, a brilliant doctor with a certain fondness for the macabre.
- Esther (she/her) – The victim’s daughter and Eli’s twin sister, an archaeologist with an eye for hidden clues.
- Almond (he/she) – A devious but cryptic scam artist with an interest in the outcome of the mystery.
- ??? – A mysterious fifth character yet to be revealed.
Each has a role to play. Leon is the one who uncovers Mrs. Bloom’s body deep in the Heartwood National Park, and while all signs point to a natural death, that thought quickly goes out of the window when Leon starts hearing the dead woman’s voice in his head. A voice that insists she’s been murdered.
Events lead Leon to team up with her children Eli and Esther, as well as Almond, as they work together to figure out what really happened. Could the voice be telling the truth, or is there something far more sinister at play?
The format of Heartwood is described to be more like a “TV show than a novel.” The developers plan to release yearly “seasons” as monthly updates, each with a different focus and goal.
Player choice will be key in Heartwood and will also have immediate consequences within each individual episode. Wrong decisions, such as encouraging a character’s flaws, will potentially lead to a game over ending or even a tragic one that will affect all of the main cast. Players will need to make the right decisions and ‘solve’ each episode in order to move on and play the next.
Player choice will also extend toward potential romance between characters, with queer characters taking front and center stage. The developers have also promised that “our characters’ gender identity and sexual orientation won’t be questioned, dissected, or become the cause of drama within the game.”
Currently, the development team of Heartwood is asking for funding on Indiegogo so they can develop their visual novel further. The first two seasons of Heartwood are already outlined, with further funds going towards art, assets, advertisements, writing, and development.
To find out more about the mysterious visual novel game Heartwood, check out their Indiegogo page and play the prologue for free.
[Disclaimer: Heartwood is part of Gayming Magazine’s Indie Game Advertising]