Heavenly Bodies, review of a physics-based space adventure



Here’s our review of Heavenly Bodies, a physics-based space adventure with a unique style

Space has long been a favorite place for writers, artists, screenwriters and, more generally, for those who love to dream of the unknown and great adventures. The Universe that surrounds our Earth is home to wonders and horrors that go beyond our imagination. It promises stellar travel, black holes, alien races and unthinkable technologies. Sometimes, however, traveling in space involves some problems, such as the lack of gravity. Moving even a few meters is a great feat when there is no mass to attract you: Heavenly Bodies is about just that.

Erase from your mind the spaceships of Mass Effect, the adventures of Star Trek or the political and military intrigues of Dune. Heavenly Bodies offers us the real Space within the reach of man, the one just outside our atmosphere. Is it enough to entertain us? The answer is in this review of Heavenly Bodies.

The other lever

The two astronauts of Heavenly Bodies in a space station

As mentioned in our introduction, Heavenly Bodies is a new space adventure, but those who do not try to propose colorful alien races or pseudo-scientific buzzwords that justify space jumps from one side of the galaxy to another. The work of 2pt Interactive takes us to the ’70s and puts us in the shoes of a cosmonaut (or two, if you play in co-op) who must move in tight spaces, drag objects, press buttons and connect cables.

When we are launched into space, in fact, we arrive at a run-down space station and are given the task of fixing it up. Each level (7 in total) offers a completely new area, but there is still a narrative thread that connects our extraterrestrial exploration and leads us smoothly to the conclusion.

The focus of Heavenly Bodies is not the plot, of course, but the control system. The lack of gravity is a very serious problem and moving is not easy. Using the triggers of the controller (the keyboard is strongly discouraged) we’ll have to grab objects and surfaces to be able to launch us from one side to another of the space station, perhaps using the legs to give us some boost, like springs that bounce off the walls.

It’s easier said than done, but that’s the challenge: mastering the character’s movements, which will struggle to even pull a lever to open a door. Heavenly Bodies is a physics-based adventure, where it’s easy to figure out what to do, but it’s more complex to do it well, quickly and without beating your head against every wall.

Speed, actually, is not a big concern, except for a few secondary challenges. In fact, each level, after being completed once, will unveil additional missions such as finding a collectible – often hidden in an inconvenient place to reach -, performing some particular secondary tasks, completing the level within certain times and with the maximum difficulty selected.

Control system

Heavenly Bodies astronaut grabs onto a space antenna

The difficulty level of Heavenly Bodies is actually a selection of the control system. The most complex is the “Newtonian”, that is, more “physically accurate”. The main difference is related to the fact that, compared to the lower levels, any ability of the astronaut to move without the help of objects and surfaces is almost completely eliminated.

On Classic difficulty it is possible to make our character turn around simply by waving his hands clockwise and counterclockwise. In addition, it is possible to “swim” in a vacuum by moving your arms frog-style. Both of these movements, however, fail to perfectly counteract a wrong movement or too strong a push in a certain direction. We think it is the best choice to play, at least at the beginning, since it forces you to pay attention and take advantage of every handhold within reach to perform the right movements, while always allowing a little room to maneuver to correct a mistake.

Finally, we have the Assisted mode that basically lets you point your arms in a direction and move towards it automatically. It’s important that it’s included, especially in terms of accessibility for those with motor problems, but we don’t recommend it to the average player as it eliminates what is the core of the game.

An explosion pushes astronauts out of Heavenly Bodies space station

Beyond the difficulty level, the control system works well enough. At any given moment we can recalibrate the camera to make sure that the “up” is where our head is pointing. If you want a point of comparison in terms of control difficulty, think of games like Snake Pass or the more recent Struggling: your fingers might twist in the same way, but in Heavenly Bodies – unlike the examples – getting a movement wrong is an integral part of the game design and you’re never really punished. There is a sort of game over if you launch yourself into deep space when you’re out of a spaceship, but checkpoints save at the completion of each intra-mission task, so there’s no risk of losing time or progress.

Speaking of time, on Classic difficulty we completed the seven levels in about 4 1/2 hours. That’s not a lot, but we ignored most of the side challenges, and a second game on Newtonian mode basically allows you to almost double the longevity.

Galactic Tasks

Heavenly Bodies astronaut explores space with a spacecraft

The quality of a game is obviously not directly proportional to the number of hours on the counter. What matters is that every minute is intense and that variety is not lacking.

Heavenly Bodies is certainly not the game with the highest pace available on the market, it must be said, since it can take several minutes just to get out of a room and move a couple of objects: the less patient and those who don’t like having to struggle to perform seemingly simple tasks may be annoyed by the experience after a while.

On the other hand, those who like to be challenged with an alternative control system that doesn’t care about the comfort zone in which we live, will find various types of tasks waiting for them, contextually to the level and the type of equipment with which they will have to deal.

Sometimes we’ll have to move indoors and interact with some buttons and cables, other times we’ll be in a large region filled with asteroids to explore with a small spaceship. On other occasions we’ll have to control robotic arms to interact with complex devices, or we’ll have to use a plunger to… well, you’ll find out. But we can tell you that Heavenly Bodies kept us glued to the screen every minute and when we finished the adventure, we had a wide, satisfied smile on our face.

Comment

Heavenly Bodies has a task: to make us struggle with gravity. Our astronaut must drag, throw, grab, pull, press and more, with the ultimate goal of getting a series of abandoned space stations back on their feet. The focus of the game is the simulation of physics and the “fight” (in a good way) with the control system, which allows us to move arms and legs independently. The variety is not lacking and, thanks to a count of hours not high, always manages to propose some small news or difference in each level so as not to be ever boring. If you’re not afraid to put yourself to the test and are ready for a low gaming pace, we recommend it.

PRO

  • Pleasantly atypical control system
  • Good variety of tasks and challenges
  • It has local coop
  • The slow pace of play may bore some players
  • The slow pace of play may bore some players
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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