I’m a sucker for games like Where the heart leads.
Does a middle-aged man fall into a hole and wake up in a strange dream place where he revives and can make changes in his entire life? Sign me up.
Overall, developer Armature takes full advantage of this setting to tell an emotional and introspective story about life. Right off the bat, I quite liked the protagonist Whit. He has that “ cool cool daddy ” vibe, and seeing the cause of his downfall, him trying to save the family dog, has you quickly reversing his journey home.
Of course, it is never that simple. To do that, you will have to go through different moments in your life: your past, your present. Y future, and make decisions that shape your journey. It’s a fascinating premise: If events had played out differently, what direction would your life have taken? What relationship would you have had with your father? Mother? Brother? So girlfriend? Neighbor? Where the heart leads offers hundreds of options based on your interactions with people, and this leads to dozens of endings. At the same time, a simple watercolor aesthetic and a sweet, understated soundtrack give the game an endearingly picturesque feel.
This is one of the story types I love the most – small-scale but deeply personal stakes for the main character. Well-written dialogue helps sell Whit’s experiences, such as insisting on helping his overworked and independent girlfriend, Rene, or encouraging his stubborn brother Sege to pursue his dreams against their parents’ wishes. You will then be able to see how these choices affect Whit’s relationships going forward, making them feel meaningful.
To add to the small town feel of the game, Armature also encourages you to talk to less important non-player characters, such as Rene’s father taking on Whit’s father. These are usually interesting and help develop the world, even if they are not so directly related to Whit’s central journey.
However, where the game suffers the most is in its structure. On paper, dividing the game into sections based on different parts of Whit’s life is a smart approach, but the pacing feels bad in practice. Some areas, like the initial farm chapter, are too long, particularly with some lengthy tractor repair. Meanwhile, the later sections could have used more time to breathe.
The isometric perspective of the game is also often at odds with the camera, getting caught in different parts of the environment, such as trees or houses. While this appears to be a style choice on Armature’s part to give you a broader view of a given area, the execution is somewhat lacking.
However, these problems are quite minor. General, Where the heart leads makes for a completely memorable experience thanks to its thought-provoking narrative, and it’s worth checking out if you like these kinds of story-based games.
Where the heart leads is available for $ 33.49 CAD on PlayStation 4 and PS5 through backward compatibility.