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29 Games Like Heaven’s Vault

In Heaven’s Vault you play an archaeologist translating an ancient alien language whose decrypting weaves through an unfolding drama. While doing real linguistic work you interact with companions and locals. Your choices can open or close vast swathes of investigative opportunities. In turn, this directs the branching narrative in different ways. Intelligent guesswork is required to translate a large number of inscriptions, while deciphering the motivations of those around you. An ingenious timeline documents every move, and a brief synopsis each time you start playing keeps things accessible even to infrequent players.
 

These games offer a similar experience or are about a theme that Heaven’s Vault addresses. Also, if you want to play a game like Heaven’s Vault but don’t have PC, PS4 or Switch, these are a good alternative.

 

Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB TEEN

Release Date: 16/04/2019

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4.

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle.

 

 

Black Mirror Bandersnatch

Platforms: Web Browser

Genres: Action, Narrative and Role-Playing

Duration: Between 1 and a half hours and 3 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix) takes the interactive mystery genre a step further towards a traditional TV series. You watch it on your television but make decisions for the characters which then branches the narrative. With 150 minutes to watch...


Patterned

Platforms: iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Puzzle

Duration: Between 5 minutes and 20 minutes to play a round.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Patterned is a puzzle game where you piece together beautiful patterns. It's a bit like a jigsaw but without the stress of forever finding more blue sky pieces. Each pattern begins as a sketch and you use visual clues to reassemble its scrambled pieces.


Pilgrims

Platforms: PC and iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Puzzle and Role-Playing

Duration: Between 1 hour and 2 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Pilgrims is an adventure game where you help the characters you meet by playing cards. As you progress you assist them to complete their little stories in different ways. It's a little like Scribblenauts, but with less focus on the breadth of options...


Over The Alps

Platforms: PC and iOS Apple Arcade

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 3 hours and 4 and a half hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Over The Alps is an adventure with intrigue and espionage set in 1939 Switzerland. Designed to look like retro photographs. The story unfolds as you select stamps to indicate how your character should approach interactions. Discover a secret history in...


Pendragon

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Action, Narrative, Strategy and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 20 minutes and 2 hours to play a round.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Pendragon is a character-driven strategy game, from the creators 80 Days and Heaven’s Vault where you rally the Knights of the Round Table to reach Arthur before he meets his fate.


PiAwk

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Duration: Between 3 hours and 3 and a half hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

PiAwk is an adventure you explore as PiAwk, a little bird-like creature that is both a little awkward and shy, but also bold and curious. As you interact with the environment, architecture, landscape and other characters you realised you are enclosed in...


Goodbye Volcano High

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Goodbye Volcano High is a high school coming of age adventure set in a world of anthropomorphic dinosaur characters. You play as band members, non-binary Fang and best friend Trish. Then there's student council president Naomi, and Fang's brother Naser....


Dustborn

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X | Series S

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Narrative

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Dustborn is a road-trip adventure set in America 2030 where all information has been lost. You and your misfit friends must cross this divided world to deliver a package from California to Nova Scotia. It's unusual not only because of the setting but...


Sable

Platforms: PC and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Open World

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Sable is an adventure game where you play a young girl, Sable, alone in the world, but bravely exploring ancient monuments, ruined architecture, and fallen ships to uncover her place in it.


As Dusk Falls

Platforms: PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X | Series S

Genres: Action, Adventure and Narrative

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

As Dusk Falls is an interactive Drama following two families that intertwine with each other over thirty years, set in Arizona.


Dragon Box

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Puzzle

Duration: Between 2 minutes and 5 minutes to play a round.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

DragonBox is an educational series of games that teaches young children maths, such as algebra using pattern matching with symbols. Unlike other educational games, the fun is in the doing in DragonBox, rather than incentivising learning with separate...


WordHunters

Platforms: PlayStation 4

Genres: Puzzle

Duration: Between half an hour and 45 minutes to complete.

Players: You can play with 6 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online.

Costs: Purchase cost.

This is a world-travelling word game you play on the PlayStation using a smartphone or tablet rather than controller. The smartphone and tablet screens makes picking letters easy for all ages and the camera on these devices is used to put each...


The Witness

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Open World and Puzzle

Duration: Between 18 hours and 30 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

The Witness combines maze puzzles in an abandoned world with its own mythology, secrets, themes and story. It’s a game with puzzles at the core, but the real mystery is solving what has happened in the world you find yourself in.


Bury Me My Love

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 2 hours and 4 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Free-to-start.

Don’t be put off by the name and theme of this intriguing game, an adventure played by choosing responses in what looks like a messaging app. You take the role of the husband of a Syrian migrant travelling to Europe. As the game unfolds in real time,...


Gris

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Platform

Duration: Between 4 hours and 6 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Gris is a platform game where you guide a young girl through a crumbling world. Through beautiful metaphoric landscapes and soaring music, the game touches on emotions of loss and longing but doesn’t resolve to a firm narrative. Although not hugely...


Outer Wilds

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Open World and Simulation

Duration: Between 16 hours and 21 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Outer Wilds is an exploration space mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time-loop. After 20 minutes of game time, you must start again – but each time brings a new opportunity to learn how you ended up on the planet and solve the...


Lost Words: Beyond the Page

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Stadia and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative, Platform and Puzzle

Duration: Between 4 hours and 5 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Lost Words is an adventure game where you run, jump and explore inside a young girl’s diary. You control Izzy as she writes her diary by walking on words, move them around and solve different puzzles. This develops two parallel stories, one about Izzy...


80 Days

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 3 hours and 5 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

80 Days is a travel and culture discovery game set in 1872, where decisions about your journey around the world impact the course of the story and characters.


Aviary Attorney

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch and PC

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Duration: Between 6 hours and 10 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

A courtroom drama set in nineteenth-century Paris, populated with beautifully drawn animals. Guiding JayJay Falcon, defence attorney, you help investigate each case before each of the four court dates; combing crime scenes, interrogating suspects and...


Coffee Talk

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Creative, Narrative and Role-Playing

Duration: Between 3 hours and 5 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Coffee Talk is an interactive story about a barista working in a coffee shop in Seattle. You listen to customer's concerns about life and love, in a retro pixilated world back with lo-fi chilled hip-hop music.


Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney (Series)

Platforms: Android, Nintendo 2DS/3DS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Duration: Between 17 hours and 26 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Free-to-start. In-game purchases.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a courtroom murder mystery series where you piece together clues to challenge testimonies and uncover the truth. It’s like a visual novel, although you must interact with characters and evidence to progress.


Milkmaid of the Milky Way

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Duration: Between 2 hours and 4 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Milkmaid of the Milky Way is a puzzle game where you play a milkmaid Ruth in a remote farm, who is kidnapped by a spaceship. It sounds strange, but what unfolds is a story about boredom, parental expectation and the desire for change.


Opus Magnum

Platforms: PC

Genres: Puzzle and Simulation

Duration: Between 15 minutes and 45 minutes to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Opus Magnum is a puzzle game about assembling machines to convert spherical chemicals into different compounds. Each challenge can be tackled by creating different machine configurations, and each is awarded points on how compact, quick and efficient...


Beyond: Two Souls

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4

Genres:

Duration: Between 11 hours and 14 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Beyond: Two Souls is from the same developer as Detroit: Become Human and Heavy Rain. Although not a series, they follow a similar style and approach. They provide a filmic interactive experience of a story that branches in substantial ways depending on...


Fire Escape

Platforms: Android and PC

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Duration: Between 20 minutes and 20 minutes to play a round.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Fire Escape is a murder mystery styled on Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. You sit on a fire escape and can see into the apartments opposite as well as hear the intimate conversations of your neighbours across the alleyway. You peer into the lives of the...


Remember Me

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Platform

Duration: Between 10 hours and 15 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Remember Me is an adventure game developed where you play Nilin, a memory hunter working for an underground resistance. The game is set in the year 2084, in a futuristic version of Paris called Neo-Paris, where the Memorize corporation has made memories...


The Walking Dead (Series)

Platforms: Android, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action and Narrative

Duration: Between 13 hours and 20 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Free-to-start. Season pass and in-game purchases.

Walking Dead is a survival adventure game series. You explore locations and gather a ragtag group of survivors. How you interact with each of them and make decisions about various dangers results in a branching story where no one is guaranteed to survive.


Detroit: Become Human

Platforms: PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Duration: Between 12 hours and 15 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Free-to-start.

This is a branching narrative game from Quantic Dream, the studio behind Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. This is the third game in the series and offers a more refined version of the filmic branching experience.


Heavy Rain

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4

Genres: Action, Adventure and Narrative

Duration: Between 10 hours and 12 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Heavy Rain is from the same Quantic Dream studio who made Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human. It preceded these games but shared the same branching narrative and photo-realistic aspirations.


 
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Heaven’s Vault is in These Lists

In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to Heaven’s Vault in the following lists:

Solve a Mystery

Like a good crime drama or whodunnit novel, solving mysteries and puzzles is a good way to engage in a story. However, rather than just watching these mysteries while someone else does the heavy lifting, these video games place you firmly in the role of the detective. Gathering statements, sifting evidence and making intelligent leaps of deduction requires care and attention. These investigations makes these games slower than others, but it’s worth the effort each time you find the correct conclusion and move the story on.

These games present you with a mysterious scenario to be solved. Whether with direct puzzles, locations to investigate or crime scenarios to deduce, they offer a unique, first-hand sleuthing challenge.
 

Educational Games That Are Also Good Games

These games have an educational element to them, but also offer experiences that are good games in their own right. This isn't busywork to trick you into learning, but clever and innovative ways to encounter history, physics, engineering, maths, geography and language subjects without feeling like you are in school. They also teach softer, deeper skills like long term strategy, planning, balancing systems, emotional intelligence, compassion, team-work and self-care.

Some of these games are aimed at younger players to play on their own, but others (as indicated by their PEGI ratings) are better for teenagers or played together in a family. Find some games that pique your interest, read through the details and decide how your child might benefit from playing them.
 

Great Games Without In-App Purchases

In-app purchases are small items that you can spend real money on in games. These often add levels, a new character or different attire. Games that are either free to start playing, like Fortnite or Roblox often make money via the in-app purchase route.

The games in this list are really good for families but have all been selected because they don't include any in-app purchase costs. You either pay a single up-front cost or they enable you to play them for free.
 

Wield Absolute Control

Things don’t stay put. You’re the only one keeping the ship afloat. You can’t get people to do what you tell them. The effort you spend doesn’t produce the results it deserves. Well, in these video games you get to wield complete control over people, things, situations or even whole worlds.

If games offer an escape from chaos, these games are particularly good at granting a sense of satisfying agency and power as they do that. Whether it’s ordering the perfect stock room in Wilmot’s Warehouse, organising your island in Animal Crossing, perfectly controlling the flow of traffic in Mini Motorways or even build civilisation just the way you want it in Civilization the sense of satisfaction and calm from the achievement is second to none.
 

Branching Stories With Multiple Endings

All games offer you agency. You can win or lose. You can complete them or stop at any time. But there are some games that offer a story that genuinely branches. Where you end up will be different from other players. This not only makes your actions really matter but also gives you a reason to play them again.

Setting aside games that evolve through simulation, or games where once you die it's game over, these branching narrative games tell a story that ends in a certain way because of the choices you made.
 

Commit No Violence

While a significant portion of video games focus on combat and competition, these titles offer a less aggressive way to progress and win. None of these games enable or require the player to cause harm to another living thing -- even Mario's merciless campaign to stomp on every Goomba he meets bars him from this list. Or then there's catching and selling fish in Animal Crossing that rule that one out.

Many of them are aimed at children and families, but you'll be surprised how many explore deeper, more mature themes in their narratives, or require just as much skill as a fast-paced first-person shooter. This means there's plenty of offer for parents who might lack the reflexes (or interest) to survive a round of Fortnite.

We've focused on the games you might not expect to be played non-violently here, but you can find the full list at Non-Violent Games Of the Day curated by James Batchelor.
 

Get Children Reading

Image 221We have partnered with the National Literacy Trust to create this resource of video games that encourage and enable reading and writing skills.

The National Literacy Trust is a charity dedicated to improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of children and young people who need it most, giving them the best possible chance of success in school, work and life.

Video games have significant benefits for children who are reluctant or struggling readers. They give them access to stories through interaction and world building which they may not have been able to read in print. Video games also have benefits for families where parents may not be confident readers, meaning that sharing stories as a family is still accessible to all. The rise of video games on smartphones and tablets, as well as more affordable game consoles has made the sharing of interactive stories easier.

Image 241There are different ways that video games create this kind of collateral reading and aid literacy:
  • Reading In Games: Video games offer all sorts of reading at all levels. This can be from simple narrative in a game like Florence to dialogue in a game like Mutazione or even just identifying useful items and game mechanics with in-game descriptions in a game like Zelda Breath of the Wild. Then there are games like Thousand Threads that help players think about the power and the consequence of words.
  • Reading Around Games: Video games create worlds that often spawn secondary texts. This can be official novels that expand the world or guide books that offer instructions and help. Knights and Bikes, for example, has spin off books, a cartoon series and recipes to read.
  • Routes Into Books: Many popular book series, such as Beast Quest, offer a range of video games as an easy first step into those worlds that lead to then reading the books themselves.
  • Communication Around Games: As well as reading, games encourage all sorts of creative output. This can be to contribute to the many online forums and message boards to talk about the game. This can also be to write fan-fiction after being inspired about a game world or character. The Sims, for example, has an avid community writing and creating all kinds of content online.

 
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The information on this database is designed to support and complement the in-depth discussion and advice about video game "addiction", violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. If you have any concerns or questions in these areas, email our editor who is quick to respond or can arrange for a one-to-one conversation.

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