I nearly bounced clean off We Know the Devil. I didn’t mesh with the dialogue at all at first. By the end, I’d pretty much come around on it, but I did find the first few scenes difficult. The obvious answer might be that I’m way outside the target audience - I’m much older, among other key details, than the summer camp teens being depicted. I don’t know anything about the writers, or their ages, but once I watched the stream and heard Ren talk about it I was struck how the dialogue clearly resonated with her in a way it didn’t with me. It made me think that even if this dialogue is not necessarily accurate or realistic - and to be clear, I’m not saying it ought to be - it struck a chord. In any case, I ultimately thought it was a good little self-contained story, and one that I became more impressed by after watching the stream and seeing how the different endings play out.
On the other hand, I’m having more trouble with Heaven Will Be Mine. There was a beat early in that WKtD stream where someone in the audience asked, basically, ‘did I miss something?’. No, the game is just pretty obtuse about the way its world works and more is revealed as the story unfolds. Heaven Will Be Mine feels like that dialled up another 100%, layering big, unexplained, Proper Noun sci-fi concepts one on top of another in a way I’m currently having trouble keeping track of. In some ways, I really want to like it; it strongly reminds me of the Friends at the Table CW/Twilight Mirage/Partizan stuff, as well as anime like Evangelion. But, again, a lot of is just not landing for me. All the character voices are kind of blending together in a way that’s making it difficult to keep track of who’s saying what, and that’s on top of the jargon.
The choices are even more confounding. In WKtD, each choice is essentially “which characters do you want to pair up?” It’s pretty intuitive, even if it’s not clear how that will influence the outcome of the game. Once that does become clear, I really liked how it worked thematically, with the most left out character becoming the titular Devil and how it tied all the threads of alienation and exclusion and temptation together..
Early into Heaven Will Be Mine I have, uh, no idea what I’m choosing. On a meta level, I can infer that my choices will impact the end of the game, and that I’m weighting the narrative in the direction of different factions. Those factions have opaque goals and difficult to parse relationships with the characters [e.g. playing as Saturn, when she talks with Mercury they talk about not sharing the goals of the faction they belong to, but I barely understand what those goals are, so I don’t know if I want to try and agree or disagree with them…?], so it’s just multiple levels of abstraction I can’t currently get my head around.
Still: I’m relatively early in the game. I’m kinda hopeful that by the end of it I’ll come around on it like I did on We Know the Devil, and that all this will seem silly. Maybe not, and this one isn’t for me. Either way, I’m looking forward to the streams and discussions it provokes.
EDIT: Turns out I was not, in fact, relatively early in the game. I don’t think seeing the/an ending greatly changed my opinions above, though I felt like I could at least see what metaphor was being reached for.