"Heaven Will Be Mine is, in a word, brilliant."
The year is 1980, but not as we know it. During the '50s, humanity found itself faced with an Existential Threat from beyond the stars: a malevolent force so eldritch, insidious, and incomprehensible it could not be named. The Cold War now kiboshed, Earth's military forces united and headed into space to tackle their new foe head-on.
The Existential Threat was neutralised. But there will always be ideological differences. And they will always lead to conflict. With nothing left to fight, Earth's Memorial Foundation was formed with the aim to bring humanity back home. Not everyone wanted to come home, though, leading to a schism that created Cradle's Graces, a faction quite happy to make a go of it amongst the stars. But even within this faction, a subset of individuals strive for more — now that humanity has transcended Earth, why not transcend humanity itself? And thus, the Celestial Mechanics split off into their own colony.
This is the setup to Heaven WIll Be Mine, an intelligent, funny, and posthuman visual novel concerning a tri-sided clash in space, and three women and their giant mechs caught in the midst of it. It's a little Mobile Suit Gundam, a little Neon Genesis Evangelion, and very, very queer.
These three women, the protagonists, are each members of a different faction at odds with each other. Firstly, there's Saturn of the Celestial Mechanics, a puckish test pilot who's absconded with the experimental Ship-Self, String of Pearls, and seems more interested in flirting than furthering the goals of her faction. Then there's Luna-Terra, ace pilot of the Memorial Foundation in her veteran war mech Mare Cristum, as well as the story's Char Aznable analog, replete with fabulous blonde mane and a reputation for betrayal. Finally, there's Pluto, the groomed and engineered Princess of Cradle's Graces who pilots the mystical machine Krun Macula, which has control over time and space. Players can start with any of these three women, but the game recommends they begin with Saturn, whose arc sets the stage nicely for what is to come.
Heaven Will Be Mine is a visual novel through and through, and one with minimal interactivity. Each chapter is divided into two days, with a choice of two missions to take on in any order. Each of these missions is a skirmish against one of the other two protagonists, and each contains a binary choice for your character to carry out their faction's goals to the letter, or to "betray" their handlers by having a little bit of flirtatious fun with their rivals. There is no way to lose in Heaven Will Be Mine, but your choices will further the goals of the faction you have assisted and lead to its ending, which is illustrated in a chart observed between missions, so it's easy to keep track of what ending you're pushing towards.
Although each of the protagonists may begin aligned to a certain faction, that doesn't necessarily mean they're loyal to that faction — nor should they be. One of several powerful themes of Heaven Will Be Mine is that of young queer women taken advantage of by those in power and forced into a cruel set of circumstances that are often in direct conflict with their happiness. It's no surprise, then, that our protagonists may very well be more concerned with shirking their duty for a steamy make out session or two. The scenarios within Heaven WIll Be Mine are erotically charged and tender, as seductive as they are sweet. Even if one opts to stay true to their mission protocols, the mecha fight scenes are written just as sensually — if not more so — than the romance sequences. Each arc's ten-or-so missions exude a sexual energy that manages to avoid both explicitness and exploitation without sacrificing any atmosphere. It's impressive and very charming.
What's most interesting about Heaven Will Be Mine is its use of mecha as metaphor. Naturally, the genre has used its humanoid machines to explore the human condition since the 1970s, but Heaven Will Be Mine explores transhumanism and posthumanism in a literary way that very few games do. The very nature of the protagonists' Ship-Selves doesn't just blur the line between biology and mechanics, but annihilates it utterly; String of Pearls has an undulous tail capable of poisoning other mechs, while Krun Macula can grow bigger than the entire universe, which you can interpret in any way you please. These themes echo a desire to break free from heteronormative gender roles, and the narrative's sentiment is an uplifting and powerful love letter to those who feel they do not fit cleanly within these roles.
As Heaven Will Be Mine is a fairly straight-laced visual novel mechanically (certainly not narratively), I feel I can't say too much more about it without giving away key plot points. However, I'd be remiss not to mention Alec Lambert's fantastic soundtrack, which effortlessly drifts between the genres of melodic minimal synth and crushing power electronics. It's an erotic dream of a score for fans of alternative electronic music, and one that is completely fitting to the game. The visual presentation is excellent too; each of the protagonists is drawn in a zinester-esque take on an anime heroine archetype and overlaid with an animated scanline filter to give the impression of an aged communications monitor. The mechs are drawn a little more abstract. These designs may not appeal to everyone, but I found them in synchronicity with the game's themes. Each protagonist's unique UI is clean, crisp, and striking, and hanging out in the menu between missions feels cool as heck.
Sharp, funny, seductive, and sad, Heaven Will Be Mine is, in a word, brilliant. Worst Girls Games is a developer to keep a close eye on.
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.