I’ve played plenty of indie releases that were clearly inspired by some of the most popular franchises out there, and believe me, Heaven Dust 2 wears its Resident Evil inspiration like a big badge of honour. As a long-time fan of Capcom’s series, it was the main thing that drew me towards the game in the first place, despite never actually having played its predecessor (even if I had been tempted by its low price on the eShop a few times). Obvious inspirations aside though, I actually had a good time with the game. Sure, it’s far from perfect and it does have some issues, but it doesn’t stop Heaven Dust 2 from being a fun survival horror romp.
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Taking place directly after the first game, players are put in the role of protagonist Steve who has just survived a nasty zombie outbreak in a mansion. His immunity to the virus that caused it made him a person of interest, thus he was put into cryosleep and sent to a laboratory for testing. Of course, things go disastrously wrong and there ends up being ANOTHER virus outbreak at the laboratory, putting Steve in a fight for survival against the zombie threat that is stumbling his way. Oh, and there are people he needs to help out along the way too, as well as the threat of the self-destruction of the lab that will blow everything to smithereens.
It sounds like a plotline that could have come right out of one of the early Resident Evil games, right? Well, Heaven Dust 2 certainly borrows a few ideas from Capcom’s series with its narrative, though it was still interesting enough to keep me intrigued. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very predictable and there aren’t any big surprises, but I still wanted to see Steve’s tale through to its end and see how much damage the effects of the virus had done on the surroundings.
Unfortunately, whilst the narrative is fine, the writing is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s clear that the script was written by someone whose first language isn’t English, with plenty of grammar and spelling mistakes to be found throughout. One was comically constantly repeated too, with ‘diary’ being spelt as ‘dairy’ across the game… it just felt a little off-putting, even if it did get a few laughs out of me.
“The best way to describe Heaven Dust 2 would be as an isometric Resident Evil with a cute chibi-twist.”
Gameplay-wise, the best way to describe Heaven Dust 2 would be as an isometric Resident Evil with a cute chibi-twist. Players will explore a mixture of environments, all whilst solving an array of puzzles and using a variety of weapons to gun down foes in their path.
The puzzles were one of my favourite aspects of the game, with a good mix of environmental, logic, and riddle-based puzzles featured throughout. Whilst Heaven Dust 2 didn’t do anything too original that I hadn’t seen before, I still had fun solving them and they offered a nice bit of variety to the rest of the action-focused gameplay. There’s never anything TOO challenging and sometimes the solution was a bit too obvious, but there were enough moments that really forced me to think a little to ensure the puzzling never got stale.
There’s a satisfying sense of exploration to the game too, with Heaven Dust 2 featuring a pretty expansive world that has plenty of varied sights to see. Some areas are blocked off unless you have the right tools (like a shotgun to blast away some wooden blockades or an electric grenade to power up a generator), so there’s plenty of room for optional scavenging if you’re a bit more creative. The only real downside to exploration came with the fact that walls would turn invisible when you go near them – whilst this made it easier to see everything around you, it could also make it difficult to notice some doorways or work out what areas you could actually access in a room.
“There’s a good array of enemies to face off against, with zombies joined by acid-lobbing creatures, mutated dogs, boomers that explode when they approach you, and even tree-infested creatures that you have to burn to damage.”
Combat on the other hand is a lot simpler. Players will come across a variety of upgradable weapons as they play including the likes of a handgun, machine gun, and shotgun, with each one aimed by holding down the left shoulder button which will automatically target the nearest enemy. If you hold it for long enough, you’ll target an enemy’s weak spot, which can often result in a one-hit kill if you’re lucky. This is a survival horror game, after all, so you’ll want to be efficient with the limited ammo available.
It’s a basic system that makes it easy to target enemies, though it could be a little fiddly in places. For one, the auto aim won’t always go for the target you want it to, which could make some sections more awkward than they need to be. There are often times when you’ll need to shoot objects in the environment to clear pathways, though the game will automatically target enemies instead – this might not sound like a big problem, but there is one instance in the game where you need to do this whilst avoiding rotating blades rushing your way… it made everything feel a bit clumsier than it needed to and I had a few unnecessary deaths because of it. The enemy AI could also be a little dumb in places, with some zombies not even noticing me when I was clearly in the same room as them and shooting.
It’s something you will get used to though, whilst the sheer volume of enemies you face ensures combat always has a satisfying sense of tension. There’s a good array of enemies to face off against too, with zombies joined by acid-lobbing creatures, mutated dogs, boomers that explode when they approach you, and even tree-infested creatures that you have to burn to damage, just to name a few. There are also some pretty cool boss fights which challenge you to think a little differently when fighting them, whilst some set-pieces in the game really ramp up the action. There’s no doubting that there’s plenty of excitement to be found in the combat of the game – it’s just a shame that sometimes it can feel a bit fiddly.
“There’s a definite sense of familiarity to be felt when playing the game, but it’s a welcome one that helps make Heaven Dust 2 feel like a worthwhile homage rather than a copy-cat.”
One thing I have to mention is all of the nods to Resident Evil in the game. Things like the soothing save room music, mixing green and red herbs, the combat mechanics, the peculiar style of puzzling, finding curious keys to open strange doors, the ‘magic’ box to keep your items in save rooms… it has it all. There’s a definite sense of familiarity to be felt when playing the game, but it’s a welcome one that helps make Heaven Dust 2 feel like a worthwhile homage rather than a copy-cat. Sure, it can be very on the nose in places, but it’s something fans of Resident Evil will appreciate nonetheless.
Heaven Dust 2 Review
Heaven Dust 2 is an enjoyable survival horror romp, with the seven hours I spent with the game certainly leaving me satisfied. It has multiple endings too, so there’s definitely an incentive there to play the game again. And sure, there are areas where it could see some improvements (especially with the combat, the writing, and some of the explorative elements of the game), but there’s never anything that felt bad or completely broken. Heaven Dust 2 is just a cool game that’s sure to entertain fans of the Resident Evil series.
Developer: One Gruel Studio
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC