“Girl with a heart of” is the rather clumsily named interactive narrative from developers Bent Spoon. Originally developed for the PC, this review is of the port to the iPhone. The title tells the story of Raven, a young girl born into a unique world bathed in darkness where light itself appears to be the enemy. Your character, the girl of the title, is told early on that she is the world’s last hope against the encroaching light. While the story has many interesting ideas, I could never shake the feeling that it wasn’t explored as deeply as it could have been.
The game plays very much like the old Lucasarts point-and-click adventures except that there is no faux extra dimension, essentially limiting your movements to the x axis, nor is there any interaction with the surrounding locations. This extremely restricted interaction that the game presents you with greatly hinders any immersion you could gain from the world. As you can imagine this turns vast portions of the game into a simple exercise of travelling between locations to talk through dialogue trees. If it was an extremely well told story then this would not be such a problem, however since the entire game hinges on the story and it often falls short, it treads a very precarious path as it has no other facet of game play to fall back on.
Your dealings with the narrative come in the form of standard dialogue trees. Choose one response from many listed and progress the story. These choices have very little impact on the actual story, though occasionally an option will present itself where you can lie or tell the truth. It is these options that can impact your playthrough. The dialogue trees are presented on screen as a list of text from which you must choose your response. It is at this point that the UI shows it problems. Trying to choose a particular option within a list can be extremely difficult. Especially when this option is located in the centre of a list. Despite taking considerable care I often found myself choosing an option above or below the one intended. Sometimes in spite of accurately selecting the desired option the UI would fail to highlight and move on with the dialogue. Again considering the entire game is based around dialogue and your choice of options this is an extremely poor port of a UI. To give an example; later in the game I was offered the choice to either lie or tell the truth. I wanted in this particular case to tell the truth yet due to the bad implementation of the UI I instead chose to lie. I was forced to continue playing through the game with the knowledge that I had ‘chosen’ a path I did not want to take.
I found this game, and I use the term loosely, to be an extremely odd affair. An interesting exercise perhaps, one that I believe could have been successful in delivering hours of entertainment. Instead I found myself distressed as I moved from one dialogue tree to another, willing the story to give me more. I grew more than a little irritated when what I wanted from the story was to be affected in some way only to be told that I had to travel to another locale and then return because the current npc did not want to tell me any more until I had slept. The visuals are certainly interesting, strange neon shades and varying hues of blues and purples all paint a peculiar dream like world but they did nothing to still the boiling mass of frustration I felt while playing.
I would find this very difficult to recommend to anyone. Certain sections of dialogue were distinctly adult whereas others were created seemingly with young pre-teen children in mind. The game has a certain charm and innocence about it which makes it difficult for me to pour scorn over, however I would be remiss not to give this what I feel it deserves.
3 missed dialogue options out of 10