Where the Heart Leads Is A Surreal Quiet Journey

What Does the Heart Lead?

Where the Heart Leads is a narrative adventure game available on the Playstation 4and 5 on July 13th. You play as Whit, who is transported through a journey in time. He will revisit and reshape relationships with various key figures in his life. This includes his overbearing parents, a past love and his brother. Players will make decisions that will influence the world around them. Speak coldly to people and they’ll become less apt to aid you in your adventures. Whatever choices you make will impact how you play and, ultimately, what story you participate in.

Where The Heart Leads
image credit: Armature

Playing the Heart Strings

Where the Heart Leads gives a mish-mash of various gameplay mechanics. You roam the world from a pulled-back third-person camera. Interactions are done through dialogue options that you choose from. These choices will create little branches and will modify your gameplay more and more as the game goes on. It really feels like a modern point and click adventure as the gameplay mechanics are open interaction to further the story.

The material is adult in content. Not in a graphic or sexual manner, but in themes of love, regret and nostalgia. All of this is done through an interesting surreal storytelling technique, where the majority of the people Whit interacts with are simply silhouette avatars of past figures in his life. They don’t move, but once you’ve interacted with them, they instantly change posture and/or position.

This is an obvious reminder that these aren’t characters based in the true reality of the game, but are surreal tools to get Whit through his journey of reflection. There are not really any puzzles, but just a series of tasks that must be accomplished through the narrative. This will either fully engage you or bore you to death.

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Leading to a Purchase?

The graphics are an interesting watercolor style, which were not particularly appealing. It gives the impression of a Sim type game, but without the polish. The italicized text that appears in small text boxes isn’t the easiest to read. The addition of voice-over or at least a more prominent view of the dialogue would elevate your gameplay.

The camera angle for the most part is an enjoyable aspect of gameplay allowing you to see the interesting landscapes. You will occasionally reach awkward moments where scenery unintentionally obscures your view of the protagonist. The soundtrack is quite peaceful and will lead you to a state of ataraxis. Overall, if you’re into very thick reading and introspective indie games, then for $25 and eleven hours of gameplay, this game will be right up your alley.

Written by Trevor Forrest.