Early this year, Heaven’s Vault, a game that lets you play an archaeologist to uncover the past, will come out. We want to have a look at the information we have so far for this game.

Uncover a forgotten past and decipher a lost language in this open-world narrative adventure game. Join archaeologist Aliya Elasra and her robot sidekick Six as they investigate The Nebula, an ancient network of scattered moons. Discover lost sites, freely explore ancient ruins and translate inscriptions to reveal the secrets of the Nebula’s past.

This introduction given by inkle studios, the creators of Heaven’s Vault, a new adventure computer game, fits perfectly in our Archaeogaming section. In this game, you will be able to explore lost civilisations and even decipher a long lost language. You are playing Aliya Elasra, an archaeologist, accompagnied by Six a robot.

So, obviously, this game plays in the future, but why not? Archaeologists, and in this case it seems to be an Xenoarchaeologist, will be essential in the future, especially when dealing with unknown species and civilisations. As it seems, the game will feature archaeological and philological methodologies, so this is something to be excited about.

Depiction of archaeology

In a recent interview with the Narrative Director Jon Ingold, he revealed, that the protagonist was influenced by the real-life Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Monica Hanna, who recently visited our institute.

I read about the Golden Age of archaeology and, frankly, hated it. It seemed to me to make archaeology a weird, racist sport for rich people. I rewatched Indiana Jones and noted that it’s a film with no archaeology in it, […].

It is interesting to read, that in spite of the general trend to picture archaeology as an adventure with a white protagonist (usually male), it seems that this game actually represents a more realistic and divers picture of archaeology. I personally like the protagonist very much, as she is presented in the screenshots and trailer. We have to see how her character develops during the game.

Game mechanics

An example of the game "Heaven's Vault": Deciphering an ancient language.

Another point, that is interesting to me, will be the decipherment of the unknown language. During my my time as a student, I took Assyriology as a minor and actually learned to read Akkadian and Sumerian (although I have forgotten everything). I am excited to see, if my knowledge of Ancient Languages will help me at all during this game.

The signs look actually like Sanskrit, well when flinching very hard. According to the screenshot, it seems that the languge is a sign language that uses different symbols in combination to form words. Sounds like an alphabet, but it seems rather to be logographic, which makes sense when deciphering in a computer game. The player has to decipher the meaning behind the symbol and not the phonetics behind it from a language that we don’t know. Exciting!

The game will be released this spring and beta-testing has already started. I actually have a key, but did not try it out yet, in order to write this article without risking to leak something. So everything here is based on the press release by inkle studios. I will write a review of the game after the release.

Sebastian Hageneuer

Founder & Editor

About the Author

My name is Sebastian. I am a research associate at the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Cologne, Germany, Discipline for Archaeoinformatics. My special interest lies in reconstructing ancient architecture and thinking about ways to present archaeological knowledge to other researchers and the public in an informative and appealing way. I teach 3D documentation of material culture as well as 3D modelling and archaeological reconstruction and work on several projects as part of my job.

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