Heaven Will Be Mine is a visual novel about giant robots, political intrigue, and maybe even smooching the enemy. It combines evocative writing with a multi-perspective story that’s as engrossing as any anime.
In Heaven Will Be Mine, a strange extraterrestrial threat has driven mankind to the stars by the year 1980. In this alternate future, multiple political factions fight in a war where self-repairing mechs prevent battles from ever conclusively ending. You play as one of three different pilots and navigate through their story. That involves a lot of space battles and some suggestive battlefield entanglements.
Outside of my vague knowledge of Darling in the Franxx and those mech startup sequences in G Gundam, I’ve never really thought of giant robot battles as something intimate or sexual. But Heaven Will Be Mine’s take on the genre treats combat more like flirting than fighting. Whether it’s the sly taunts of a rival ace coming over the radio as they snipe you from afar or cutting an enemy’s mech out of an energy net, everything is approached with a sly delicacy. The mechs, here called Ship-Selves, relay sensations of pain and awareness to their pilots. The result is combat scenes where pilots are intimately aware of the danger they’re facing—and often exhilarated by it.
There’s more going on here than a few visual novel scenes and snappy dialogue. Between missions, the player can check in with their commanding officer or read extensive lore dumps and personal emails. They also need to manage the balance of power between the game’s three major factions. Actions you perform during missions will benefit one group over another and help establish your character’s personal loyalty throughout the story. These extra world-building and gameplay touches create interesting routes throughout the game’s narrative.
Replayability is enhanced by a roster of three different characters from each faction, allowing you to see scenes from different perspectives or drive the story down different paths. Thus far, I’ve only played as Luna-Terra, an aloof and iconoclastic ace pilot for the bureaucratic Memorial Foundation. Much of her story focuses on balancing uncertain loyalties—she has the dubious distinction of fighting for many factions in the war. It felt like playing through a brisk mech TV show, with all the requisite twists and turns.
Heaven Will Be Mine should appeal to anyone who loves giant robots, but the real draw is the game’s writing. Characters toss witticisms back and forth, but it never sounds like Aaron Sorkin dialogue. It’s a nice mixture of sci-fi cliche and more vulnerable angst. Every character feels fleshed out, and I’m excited to see things from new perspectives. And to flirt with that enemy ace.