#FlashbackFriday Interview: Heaven’s Hope Dev Mosaic Mask

Heaven’s Hope tells the story of the Angel Talorel, who has literally fallen from Heaven. He is now stranded on Earth in the 19th century next to a town called Heaven’s Hope, having lost his halo and his wings. His goal is to now to find a way back home. However, this adventure comes with some complications, as Mosaic Mask Studios says:

But our world is strange for an Angel, so Talorel needs advice from his old friends in heaven and from some new and unlikely companions that he will meet on his adventure. In Heaven’s Hope the Inquisition has risen again under the rule of the fanatic nun Greta. Suppression, fear and mistrust have spread among the village, which means that it’s actually not a good place for an angel, desperately trying to get back to Heaven.

The game also came with several features at its launch, including:

  • A thrilling adventure — always funny and full of heart
  • Over 12 hours of gameplay with fascinating riddles
  • Two heavenly advisers will aid the hero with good ideas and bad jokes
  • 35 hand-drawn locations and over 30 animated characters to interact with
  • Smart systems can guide the player through the game as much — or as less — as they want. Heaven’s Hope is both accessible and challenging.
  • A magnificent Hollywood-quality soundtrack by famous composer Jonathan van den Wijngaarden.
  • A digital artbook with commentary from Art Director Helge C. Balzer is included (German and English version)

We sat down with developers Mosaic Mask Studios in order to talk about Heaven’s Hope, which you can read below.

Heaven’s Hope is set in the 19th Century. What made you want to set it then in comparison to an earlier or more modern setting?

MB: Our producer Seckin created the rough story outline in the first place … the conflict between a real angel and the inquisition was the basic idea from the very beginning.

SO: The story determined the setting. Angels and Inquisitors would fit better in the past than in the future. Medieval was an option but we needed some technical inventions to tell and visualize the story feasible at all.

The main character of a fallen angel — Talorel — will have two heavenly advisors throughout the game. Are there going to be any advisors from hell to try tempt Talorel? If not, did you ever think about bringing in a less heavenly advisor to contrast with the heavenly ones?

MB: Both advisors of Talorel — Salome and Azael — are namely angels, but while Salome is a kind and cooperative person Azael rather plays the role of a trickster who is not the greatest fan of Talorel and sometimes he tempt him to go for something risky and even dumb. This way we already have some kind of good cop and bad cop implemented. Beyond that in some situations the player will have the opportunity to decide either to act ethically or deviously. This decisions will directly impact the game. Hell will be present in another way indeed.

SO: Somehow it is that classic good vs evil story behind the game. So the dark side is always occupied by the opponents. But we have some great ideas if the gamers wants a sequel.

All of your locations — which are incredibly beautiful — are hand drawn. Was the decision to hand draw the locations made early on, or were you just unsatisfied with how everything looked when they were computer generated?

MB: First of all: Thank you very much! I love the locations very much, too. And in my opinion Helge C. Balzer — our art director — did an amazing job. It was certain in a very early state of production to proceed as classical as possible on the one hand, but on the other hand to include some 3D assets in order to tell our story as “alive” as possible. This was really a tightrope walk sometimes.

Mosiac Mask Studios' Heaven's Hope focuses on the protagonist getting back to Heaven.
Mosiac Mask Studios’ Heaven’s Hope focuses on the protagonist getting back to Heaven.

SO: We thought that hand drawn backgrounds fits best to the adventure genre. The idea was to keep that style and atmosphere from the good old games alive.

MB: We thought we could better tell a loving and quirky atmosphere by creating a set of hand drawn backdrops like a stage of a theatre. Honestly pure 3D would have been really easier in many situations we had … for instance it is very tricky to compose 3D-assets with painted elements in an acceptable way.

Heaven’s Hope is set to be released at the end of this month on Steam. How long has the journey to get the game made been, and did you have many challenges during that time?

SO: The game was made within 18 month. But we’ve had a longer pre-production stage. Making a video game itself is always a challenge. As any indie developer would agree, we think that the team size compared to the scope of a project might be one of the biggest.

MB: The journey started five years ago when Seckin came up with his idea and hired Helge to paint some key artworks right before I came on board. We created two prototypes before we started to contact some publishers in order to get a strong partner. Finally we found our publisher EuroVideo Games and we are very happy with this great guys!

Greta — a fanatical nun — is a major antagonist in the game. A nun seems to be a strange choice for an enemy, especially in a game that features an angel as a protagonist. What was it that made you decide to go with a nun to lead the Inquisition which has risen up, rather than, say, a town official?

SO: Especially this diversity gives the story the pack of humor it needs. Taking a town official is maybe something the player would expect and therefore it would made the story lame and predictable.

Heaven's Hope features over a dozen hours of gameplay, as well a a vast number of riddles.
Heaven’s Hope features over a dozen hours of gameplay, as well a a vast number of riddles.

Heaven’s Hope is set to include a number of puzzles and riddles. Can players expect these to be difficult right from the start, or will they get progressively harder as the game goes on?

MB: For us it was very important not to only involve some hardcore adventure fans — which of course we want by the way — but to welcome everyone even without any adventure experience.

This is why the game starts very easy and calm while it leads the player to the plot, navigation and all the other features of controlling the gameplay. Instead of a classical tutorial Heaven’s Hope teaches the player step by step how to act while he or she is already playing the game. This way even beginners will be able to mange complex riddles and tasks in the end.

Besides that the player always has the opportunity to contact his angel friends to get advises and some helpful hints.

Talorel obviously has some special angel abilities. What kind of abilities can players expect him to have? Will they all be available from the start of the game, or will they be progressively unlocked?

MB: When Talorel has fallen down from heaven in the beginning of the game, he has lost his wings and his halo, which is very important to use his angel powers. So the player must mange some situations without his special abilities before he or she finally can get them back. Examples for this abilities are the breath of angel or the ability to talk to plants and animals.

The world of Heaven’s Hope seems to be both charming, and a little crazy. For instance, one of the characters from the game is a mouse that creates a homunculus. Out of the 30 other characters featured in the game, can we expect all of them to have the same level of quirkiness?

MB: Thanks a lot! I take this as a compliment. Every single character in Heaven’s Hope is quirky and even a bit crazy just as the game itself.

SO: Our art director said that Heaven’s Hope is a melting pot of cultures. I totally agree, indeed it is. We tried to give all of them a special side, a special style and charm. Combined with very professional and talented voice actors, we achieved giving them their own touch.


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