Life is Strange - Episode 1 - (Imogen Beckhelling)

Glaad (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) have brought their media awards back for the 31st year, and for the second year in a row they’re recognising video games “for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and the issues that affect their lives”.

Last year, Jay Castello wrote about how these video game awards highlight difficulties in celebrating queer representation, and this year it’s slighty better, but it still feels a bit like it’s missing the point.


BATTLETECH - (Natalie Clayton)

Are y’all ready for some deals? With Black Friday almost upon us and only a few weeks since the last big Steam sale, of course it’s time for some deals. Steam’s Autumn Sale kicked off today, dealing out discounts and delights until the shutters close next Tuesday. You can check out the full list of discounted games on Steam here. Blimey, there’s a few of them. Over 13,000 of them.

Tell you what, I’ll give you a couple of recommendations to get started.


We Know the Devil - (Alice Bell)

If it was socially acceptable to ask people who made cool things to explain them to me, I would absolutely do this for everything, all the time. Bloody hell, that cake was delicious. Please describe to me the process of making it, how much planning you had to do, and what the ingredients mean to you. And also what you think of current cake culture.

I was very excited to talk to Aevee Bee of Worst Girls Games, because she wrote Heaven Will Be Mine. Made by Worst Girls and Pillow Fight Games, it s a visual novel that Bee described as “a season of a giant robot anime if all the mecha pilots were girls and all the gay subtext was was actually just happening instead.” It was one of the most exciting and interesting games I played last year. It s also the sort of game that I can t imagine how to make. So let s start at the start.


Heaven Will Be Mine - (Alice Bell)

One of the things I find endlessly fascinating about us, people, is the way we form emotional attachments to things that aren t, y know, things. Paint a face on a mug and good god, you d better not break that mug. People marry walls and have sex with cars. They get all tingly over books. And they feel real feelings about fake people in video games.

So when I say I really like video game romances, it s true — but it s the romance bit, not the sex scenes where the polygons awkwardly rub up against one another. How do developers make us care enough about a character to want to watch a terrible sex scene with a fade to black? To the extent that we keep caring about them after we turn off the computer? It s interesting to frame this question around Heaven Will Be Mine, because that game talks about ways of caring and feeling and loving that are deliberately unknowable.


We Know the Devil - (Dominic Tarason)

We all have our defences at least a little bit raised when meeting someone new. In Heaven Will Be Mine, a new visual novel released late last week, those defences are just a little bit more literal, and far larger. I guess it’s easier to flirt confidently when you’ve got energy shields and a giant humanoid metal hull capable of shrugging off meteorites. Set in a bizarre anime-inspired alternate 1980s, it’s the story of three ace mecha pilots on a mission, although there’s every chance they’ll drop it all to get their smooch on.


Heaven Will Be Mine

Heaven Will Be Mine is a "queer science fiction mecha" visual novel set in an alternate 1981 where mankind is trying to find a new place to live by exploring space in giant robots. Unfortunately, all they've found is "an intangible and ephemeral existential threat from beyond the solar system," so after a few decades of attrition, they decide to call it quits and return home—but not before an eight-day war breaks out between three factions. 

Girls from those factions serve as the game's multiple playable protagonists. There's Luna-Terra, a seasoned pilot; Saturn, a skilled hacker; and Pluto, an "overwhelming super psychic." Your choice of protagonist determines your perspective within the story, and each girl's arc features different scenes. That said, no matter who you play as, Heaven Will Be Mine is universally about three things: "joyriding mecha, kissing your enemies, and fighting gravity's pull."

"Follow three women piloting giant robots in the last days of an alternate 1980s space program fighting for humanity’s future—or ditching their jobs to make out with each other instead," developer Pillow Fight Games writes on Steam. "Your choices decide if they become clandestine lovers or passionate rivals, and which faction's ultimate plan for humanity's fate in space and beyond will be realized. Win for your ideals or lose for love, and grasp heaven in your hands." 

If you've ever played a visual novel, yuri or otherwise, Heaven Will Be Mine will feel familiar. It plays out primarily through dialogue trees, and if you're interested you can scan collectible chat logs for more information on various characters and humanity's predicament. Or, you could "sext your enemies," which sounds like way more fun than reading in space.

Heaven Will Be Mine is now available on Steam for $10. If you find that it's up your alley, you might want to check out Pillow Fight's previous visual novel, We Know the Devil, which the studio describes as a "queer cult horror visual novel" and which commands a Very Positive rating on Steam.  


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