Heaven Dust Review
Heaven Dust‘s combat lacks imagination and is painfully dull, with far less depth than the 1996 game that inspired it. Whereas the original Resident Evil had an entire arsenal for players to collect, Heaven Dust only has one pistol. While players can upgrade the pistol a bit, they will still be using that one weapon throughout to kill the same enemies. Zombies are the only enemy types that Heaven Dust players have to worry about, and so the combat becomes uninteresting real quick.
Heaven Dust‘s combat is as basic as it comes and doesn’t accomplish much. It can also be frustrating at times, as players can find themselves stuck between two zombies whose attack animations are synched in a way that makes it, so players are stuck in place with no recourse but to die. Heaven Dust is small enough that dying isn’t a huge ordeal. However, there are still some questionable checkpoints, with the game sometimes not saving properly and sending players back to a safe room other than those they most recently visited.
These frustrations aside, Heaven Dust‘s gameplay does have some redeeming qualities, particularly when it comes to puzzle-solving and exploring the Spencer Estate-Esque mansion. It’s fun finding items and solving puzzles to progress through the game. While most of the puzzles are fairly easy to solve, some will likely stump players, and figuring out what to do can be a rewarding experience.
Unfortunately, Heaven Dust‘s exploration has some downsides, particularly when it comes to inventory management. Heaven Dust‘s inventory management is a bit of a chore, with unresponsive controls making menu navigation a pain and a restrictive inventory size limiting experimentation. As a result, players will spend plenty of time backtracking to item boxes (located in Resident Evil-style safe rooms), which can be a hassle during certain parts of the game.
Subsequent playthroughs will make this particular aspect of the game less frustrating since players will know in advance how much room they need to get through the next section. And make no mistake, Heaven Dust is built with multiple playthroughs in mind. Heaven Dust has multiple endings for players to discover, plus there are a couple of achievements built around speedrunning the game. It’s technically possible to complete the game under 30 minutes, though most initial playthroughs will likely take a few hours, especially if players get stumped by the puzzles.
Capcom’s Resident Evil didn’t invent the survival-horror genre, but it inspired a long line of imitators. Video games are still emulating the Resident Evil formula to this day, though few are as blatant copycats as Heaven Dust. Originally released last year on PC and Switch, Heaven Dust has now made its way to the Xbox ecosystem. While Resident Evil fans may manage to get some enjoyment out of it, the game is a fairly lackluster survival-horror experience overall.
The concept of Heaven Dust is essentially Resident Evil meets a chibi art style and isometric camera. The game is set in a mansion, not unlike the Spencer Estate from the original Resident Evil game, and as one might have guessed, it’s filled with zombies. Players are completely defenseless at the start of Heaven Dust, but soon they will get their hands on a pistol and will be able to take down zombies with ease.
Combat in Heaven Dust is ripped straight from the old-school Resident Evil playbook, with players unable to move and shoot simultaneously. All the combat boils down to is getting some distance from the zombies and spamming the fire button, though players should be wary of occasionally unresponsive controls when they aim their pistol.
It might not be fair to compare it to Resident Evil so much, but Heaven Dust makes no effort to hide it is copying the Capcom franchise. It goes beyond being an homage to a classic game and ventures into “clone” territory, with the player character looking like a chibi take on Resident Evil hero Chris Redfield, solving puzzles in a mansion that also has a secret laboratory, killing zombies, using item boxes, mixing green herbs, and ultimately fighting a boss enemy that looks like a spitting image of Nemesis in the box art.
In-game, Heaven Dust‘s Nemesis is more similar to the Tyrant from the first Resident Evil game or even William Birkin from Resident Evil 2, complete with what appears to be a big eyeball on its chest. Predictably, it all ends with a self-destruct sequence. Heaven Dust is a blatant Resident Evil clone, but since the game is essentially a bite-sized, downgraded version of Resident Evil, one has to wonder what the point of playing it is. After all, classic Resident Evil games are readily available on modern consoles, and they do everything Heaven Dust does but better.
Heaven Dust presents itself as a downgraded take on the Resident Evil franchise, and that’s exactly what it is. There are some fun puzzles, and old-school Resident Evil fans may get a kick out of exploring the mansion and finding all the similarities between it and Capcom’s franchise. Still, otherwise, it’s hard to come up with a reason why most survival-horror enthusiasts would want to play this.