Words || Aidan Mackenzie
Two giant bipedal robots stand motionless across from each other. Cracks and scorch marks riddle their armoured exterior. Huge guns are trained on their opponent and giant swords are poised ready to strike. Inside the cockpits of these terrible machines, two young pilots wage a verbal war, the prelude to an inevitable battle.
Drawn together by a youthful infatuation yet torn apart by political machinations far beyond their control, these star-crossed lovers are destined to dance violently around each other until only one is left standing… If you have ever watched a Mecha anime like Mobile Suit Gundam you are probably rolling your eyes about now.
Despite the giant mech suit show-pieces, Mecha is primarily about the human drama of the pilots. Just like many Gundam stories Heaven Will Be Mine by Worst Girl Games is a story of young adults trying to come to terms with their own identity on the battlefield. Unlike Gundam (which is often guilty of extreme queer coding), Heaven Will Be Mine is gay as hell.
You choose one of three women to play as: the cold veteran Luna Terra, the bubbly princess Pluto or the mischievous hacker Saturn. All three pilot their own custom giant space mech as they fight for three different factions and ideologies. Oh, and they are all infatuated with each other and spend most of their battles flirting. In fact, there are no actual battles or action of any kind that the player actively participates in because Heaven Will Be Mine is a visual novel.
Visual novels (VNs) are almost entirely text-based, with the action narrated through text boxes laid over artwork of the characters and the environment and Heaven Will Be Mine is no different. It is almost entirely narrative driven and offers few branching points where the player’s choices matter past the character you pick and the ending you work towards. However, the writing is solid and pulls you into the drama between the characters. The dialogue and text play out over striking and sometimes abstract art. Visible brush strokes and imperfections lend the images a personal quality and the colour pallet is heavily 80’s inspired, with splashes of neon pink and purple creating
Many VNs tell simple romantic stories with some even crossing into erotic territory, but Heaven Will Be Mine doesn’t go anywhere near that line. While many kinds of media often exploit and sexualize queer women, Heaven Will Be Mine looks to paint an honest picture of romantic relationships and all the joy and heartache that comes with them. The game markets itself as ‘young women flirting in giant robots’ but the heart of it is something much more complicated. Heaven Will Be Mine is about daring to let down your guard. It is about being willing to drop your armour and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and truly connect with another person. It is a game about mentorship, about love and about what it means to define yourself as human.
I went into Heaven Will Be Mine expecting a bombastic anime-inspired celebration of queerness but what I got instead was a sobering look at the way people struggle to relate to one another. That isn’t to say that the game doesn’t celebrate the queerness of its characters, it just finds joy in the normalcy of it. The fact that every character in the game is a queer woman isn’t foregrounded in any way, it is treated like the most mundane and inevitable thing in the world. These characters are all well fleshed out individuals who defy attempts to be defined solely by their gender or orientation. Having such complex and unique female characters is a rare thing for a video game and rarer still for the style of anime that has inspired this game.
Heaven Will Be Mine gives you little in the way of player autonomy, but it is in service of a narrative that brings diversity to a genre that is often uniform and introspection to the often shallow VN format. Although it is short, Heaven Will Be Mine is a bittersweet breath of fresh air.