Heaven's Dawn by the Taiwanese developers at Art 9 Entertainment is perhaps one of the rarest games I've ever played. This traditional point-and-click adventure was only ever translated into English for the Australian and New Zealand markets and judging by the dearth of information out there sold very little. Despite its Eastern roots, this tale of high-fantasy feels far more western than its origins would have you believe.
You are Jeremey, an artist from New York who had the misfortune of talking to a hobo on the city streets. This homeless man tells a tale of a land far away, a kingdom under threat and a princess imprisoned. Then he runs off, leaving behind a necklace that transports you to this fantasy realm upon touch. It is here, through a bunch of inventory puzzles and mini-games, that you save the land from the smite of the cruel gods that created it.
Once you have a working flute, you can call birds to carry you all over the kingdom (left)
If you're stuck, your notepad will offer helpful clues on what to do next (right)
Heaven's Dawn gives no real reason as to why these gods are so vengeful other than that they 'created sin' whatever that means. The rest of the game is also light on story too, with only direct goals coming from anyone you speak to. "I lost my shovel", "I lost my knife", "I lost my dog", "I want my husband to love me again". It's all very simple but there are a few memorable puzzles to be found. Using flower petals in a fountain to change the colour of the water is fun, particularly when everything clicks and you realise what it's for. In a sequence that reminds me a lot of The Secret of Monkey Island's grog puzzle, you have to carry water in a leaf to a dying bird before it all drips out. Even the mini-games offer something more than the usual jigsaws or a re-themed Reversi (although they did sneak in a cheeky sliding puzzle).
One mini-game has you laying numbered tiles down to convince a caterpillar to eat your piece instead of your opponents, leaving untraversable holes in his wake. He'll always eat the highest number adjacent to him and the game ends when he can no longer move. There are special tiles that add a welcome strategy to an already uncommon mini-game including multipliers, creating/filling in holes or turning your opponent's number to a negative. It makes for a fun little strategy game once you've got the hang of it.
The caterpillar mini-game is less complicated than it looks (left)
The opposite is true for the stone pillar mini-game (right)
Other mini-games are takes on Chinese Checkers and a puzzle of time and weight, all of which will test your grey matter more than the average game. Outside of these diversions, the inventory puzzles are something of a mixed bag and aren't incredibly difficult. One of your first tasks in the game has you hunting for three keys. One key is found in an unlocked drawer while another can be dug up with an easily found shovel at a rather obvious place. The third is given to you by the wife of the castle's groundkeeper but you'll have to go through some hoops first. Find some metal wire and use it to pickpocket a handkerchief from the groundkeeper. Then find a very specific flower and wrap them in the handkerchief. Give the newly-formed bouquet to the wife, save their marriage and she'll gratefully give you the third key. These are indicative to the types of inventory puzzles you'll come across throughout the adventure - either extremely easy or entertainingly convoluted (what becomes of a wooden spatula is beyond belief). Few left me stuck for any length of time but the latter type still offered some engaging fun.
Graphically speaking, Heaven's Dawn is pleasant to look at with some nicely drawn scenes. It was par the course for 1995 even if some of its peers like Discworld, Simon the Sorcerer II or The Riddle of Master Lu are more inviting. Unlike those classics, Heaven's Dawn isn't fully voice acted at least in the English version. The original Chinese was, as was a Finnish release, but only the opening and closing cutscenes are voiced in comically over-the-top Australian accents.
I noticed a lot of similarities between Heaven's Dawn (left) and the first Legend of Kyrandia (right)
not least this forest-set altar that uses gems to activate.
Despite some misgivings and its fair share of pixel hunts, Heaven's Dawn retains some of the same charm adventure games of the early 90s had. It lifts its tone and structure almost wholesale from the very first Legend of Kyrandia right down to the abundance of magical coloured gems as key items. Put them side-by-side, however, and it's almost indistinguishable in their looks and setting. Play them and Westwood Studios' 1992 classic easily wins out even for a relatively flawed game as drastically overshadowed by its sequels as Kyrandia was.
There is only one word to describe Heaven's Dawn and that is 'pleasant'. There are a few forgivable missteps in its craft, design and localisation, an overall competent if unmemorable plot and a visual style that harks back to the golden age of adventure games. It is not remarkable, it is not unremarkable. It is not challenging, it is not unchallenging. It is simply pleasant and for a hungry adventure gamer like myself, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 67.1 Mb. Install Size: 116 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Heaven's Dawn is © Art 9 Entertainment Inc
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me