I must begin by saying I have never been more impressed by a Kickstarter project, especially one that raised a paltry €20,011, a pittance compared to the type of funding most titles receive, considering that comparable quality indie titles often work with budgets of 350k or more and budgets of $1m+ for indie titles is not unheard of.
While it’s possible the developers had some resources of their own due to the success of previous titles such as Dry Drowning, we are still talking about a relatively small amount of capital and being able to produce a title as excellent as Shattered Heaven is nothing short of astounding.
While most games place the player characters on the left of the screen facing right, Shattered Heaven flips this perspective by placing the player character on the right side of the screen facing left; while this doesn’t have any effect on the gameplay or overall presentation, its certainly a curious design choice, and one I would love to know the reasoning behind.
So far, every character I have encountered in Shattered Heaven and every character shown in media assets appears to be some variation of Caucasian or Mediterranean.
While this does not mean the developers are racist or have a hidden agenda, it is certainly strange to see a title release in 2023 that makes no effort to be racially inclusive, and a near-total absence of African and Asian characters is troubling, especially when one of the first characters we meet is implied to have at one time been in a same-sex relationship with another character, indicating that the developers are not opposed to inclusivity, at least on a surface level.
Shattered Heaven’s soundtrack is second to none, with haunting operatic vocals and a stunning orchestral soundtrack Shattered Heaven makes you want to pause and soak it all in, and I cannot wait to hear the full soundtrack when the game releases later this year.
Shattered Heaven employs an aesthetic similar to classic Dark Horse Comics. It works well, helping to bring a dark and dreary world to life with a muted yet vibrant pallet of colours that makes every scene feel like a page out of a high-quality visual novel.
While indie games traditionally have pretty bad dialogue and, at times, one-dimensional characters, Shattered Heaven has managed to avoid both of these major pitfalls by introducing the player to a cast of highly likeable characters with unique personalities and believable dialogue that, for the most part, is on par with the writing found in games by much larger studios, such as Bioware and Larian.
Shattered Heaven is a dark fantasy title, and as such, I didn’t go into it expecting flowers and bunnies; however, I feel that the developer’s insistence on almost every part of the world being nightmarish and off-putting is a mistake, as even in the darkest of tales a little light and beauty goes a long way.
I understand maintaining an aesthetic for lore and creative reasons, but I must admit I grew tired of encountering nightmarish-looking creature after nightmarish-looking creature in dark and often depressing environments, and as a result, the enemies I encountered quickly lost their shock value, despite being as grotesque and at times even more grotesque than those faced previously.
With meaningful choices, random events, procedurally generated dungeons, and multiple possible endings, Shattered Heaven has much to offer players, and fans of the game and its developer will have plenty to sink their teeth into for many years to come.
Shattered Heaven card-based combat system makes use of a keyword system that grants players additional bonuses for playing the right cards in the right order, such as cards marked with “Swift”, allowing players to draw a new card after using it, in addition to various other keywords that offer a variety of perks such as increased critical chance, improved defences, and additional AP.
While on its own, this doesn’t sound very exciting, when combined with a wide array of decks and three distinct heroes, each with unique cards and mechanics, it makes battles feel engaging, fast-paced and, most importantly, very rewarding.
While video game developers have not traditionally shied away from including religion in their games, Shattered Heaven takes this to a new level by making religion central to its narrative and the world’s continued existence.
While many aspects of Shattered Heaven’s religion are fairly standard, three major plot points were interesting enough to explore further and share my findings.
At the very start of Shattered Heaven, we are informed that the people of Earth have killed their God, and as a result, ashes fall from the sky like tears as the world grieves the loss of its creator.
This is a pretty interesting concept that, despite being theologically not quite right, shares some interesting similarities with the Death and Ressurection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As with Shattered Heaven’s God, Jesus died because of our actions; however, unlike Shattered Heaven’s deity, Jesus was not killed by humankind (despite their best efforts to do so) but offered himself a willing sacrifice to atone for humankind’s sin and by his death (and subsequent resurrection) bridged the gap between a Holy God (The Father) and a fallen humanity.
While it was humans who nailed Jesus to the cross, it was his love for the Father and the Father’s love for humanity that kept him there, something Jesus himself confirmed by stating that he could have asked his Father for twelve legions (72000) angels to come to his rescue, but he would not do so, even as his human body and soul wanted to be spared what was to come (torture and death), above all else wished to reconcile God and Man, in the full knowledge that it would require his life.
Multiple non-biblical sources refer to the sky going black at midday and the Earth shaking violently, coinciding with the moment Jesus breathed his breath; in addition, there are eyewitness accounts of the veil in the Jewish temple being torn in two by an unseen force and event made all the more impressive when you consider that multiple historical sources list it as being as wide as a man’s hand, or roughly 4 inches thick, making the tearing of the veil quite literally “an act of God”.
Before this time, the spirit of God dwelt in part within the Jewish temple, in an area known as the Holy of Hollies; however, upon the death of Jesus and the fulfilment of the old covenant (which was replaced by a better and new covenant with Jesus at the centre), the spirit left the temple to dwell in the hearts of those who would make Jesus their Lord and Savior.
Praying to Sin.
One of Shattered Heaven’s protagonists prays to ancient sin to atone them and make them holy again by blood; this is a bizarre and frankly theologically troubling concept that makes little sense in the world of Shattered Heaven and no sense in our own.
I feel, above all else, this concept will make Shattered Heaven needlessly controversial, and many religious people of all faiths will find it borderline blasphemous.
Atonement by Blood.
Like many aspects of Shattered Heaven’s religious lore, it comes close to real-world truth before diverging into borderline incoherent theological ramblings with a hint of dark fantasy.
In the world of Shattered Heaven, atonement can only be obtained by the shedding of blood. In Shattered Heaven’s religion, people must kill each other to atone for their sins. However, in our world, God sent his Son Jesus to take our place and end almost 4000 years of animal sacrifice. Before Jesus, millions of animals were sacrificed in an effort to free humanity from their sins.
Unlike the blood of lambs and goats, the sinless blood of Jesus was and is enough to balance the scales and grant salvation and atonement to all those who place their trust in him. Far from calling for humanity to kill one another, Jesus instructed his followers to “love one another”, going as far as to say that this was the second greatest commandment.
While Shattered Heaven’s full narrative is yet to be revealed, and many more twists and, most likely, theological inaccuracies will present themselves in the full versions, I will take this opportunity to look into some often misunderstood aspects of atonement and redemption, which may make an appearance in the narrative of Shattered Heaven.
The Need For Salvation.
Many atheists mockingly reduce the story of redemption to Jesus saving people from his or his Father’s wrath, and that is not academically honest; it was humankind who, by welcoming sin into the world, gave their destiny and that of all their descendants into the hands of lucifer, a fallen angel with delusions of grandeur.
In contrast, it was the Father who foresaw the fall of man and ensured that there was a way for humankind to be redeemed.
When God (the Father) created man, it was in the full knowledge that by doing so, he would have to sacrifice his Son, as he could not allow sin into his presence quite literally, as if he tried to do so, his glory would consume them, in much the same way a roaring fire could not allow snowflakes to warm themselves in its presence, no matter how much it longed for their company and well-being.
Many dismiss the idea of Jesus rising from the dead as a myth or a fraud perpetuated by his disciples.
Here are just a few popular claims.
“Jesus Never Raised From The Dead”.
People who make this claim ignore the fact that, unlike today, where money-hungry false evangelists and pastors use religion to gain power, at its inception, Christianity was a religion composed mostly of poor and powerless people who were essentially ending their (earthly) lives as they knew it by claiming to follow Jesus.
And yet this is exactly what thousands did even in the face of persecution and death, including multitudes of Pharisees, who hated Jesus during his life and actively sought to kill him during his earthly ministry, not to mention various accounts of Roman soldiers and nobles following after him, despite having full knowledge of his death at the hands of the Romans.
In what world would people choose to follow a man they killed, at the cost of their life and status, unless he did rise from the dead?
It would be complete madness, and anyone who wishes to be academically honest must concede the point that regardless of the mess that Christianity finds itself in today, in the beginning, no one in their right mind would choose to throw away their lives and livelihoods unless there was overwhelming evidence to assure them that knowing and believing in the Truth (Jesus) was worth giving up everything on Earth.
“His Disciples Stole His Body”.
To believe this, you must believe that a group of middle-aged grief-stricken fishermen and a tax collector were able to overpower a unit of highly trained and most likely battle-hardened Roman infantry despite similar-sized units having documented evidence of having held off a much larger force, well-armed and well-trained attackers.
Honestly, that takes more faith than it requires believing in the resurrection itself and is a desperate straw man used by those who know the truth but are unwilling to accept it, lest they are compelled to admit that Jesus was and is everything he claimed to be.
In conclusion, Shattered Heaven’s religious focus is certainly interesting, but it will prove controversial for some; however, I welcome the opportunity to compare the well-written fiction of Shattered Heaven with the truth of the Gospel.
Shattered Heaven is a strategy video game developed by Leonardo Production and published by Leonardo Interactive, it was released on 31 May 2023 and retails for $14.99.
Shattered Heaven is available exclusively on PC.
Shattered Heaven is no longer in active development, and the developers have moved on to other projects.
The following peripherals are officially supported:
Shattered Heaven is unrated and contains the following:
Shattered Heaven is certainly a very interesting game and one that is sure to please fans of the genre; however, its reliance on decidedly bad theology will be offensive to some Christians and offputting to atheists, who may wish to keep religion out of gaming altogether.