HIGH Great mission variety, good pace.
LOW Only one mission piloting a ship?
WTF How does the swimming work?
In general, I’d say that I have a low tolerance for frustration in videogames. Sitting down with a console is something I do as a pastime, for relaxation, or to get away from the real world for a bit — and hey, there’s a lot to get away from these days. With this in mind, something I wouldn’t have expected is that I’ve fallen in with physics-based games where the entire object of play is to do something awkward and difficult. Great examples would be Octodad: Dadliest Catch (2014) and Struggling (2020) but there have been others, and the most recent to catch my eye is Heavenly Bodies, coming from 2pt. Interactive.
This small, 2D indie asks the player to take on the role of a cosmonaut who must perform a series of missions in the zero gravity of space. There are seven levels altogether, but each one is quite different from the others and this relatively brief running time serves the game well, as it has ample room to demonstrate its ideas and then concludes without overstaying its welcome.
Each level is broken down into a series of small tasks. For example, the first mission has the player docking with a space station that’s somehow ended up in pieces. They must reassemble the superstructure and then extend a series of solar panels before reconnecting electrical components and restoring a basic level of functionality. Of course, while that might sound simple enough in this description, the fact that it’s a physics-based game means that it’s far, far easier said than done.
Each stick on the controller is in charge of a separate arm, and this is further complicated by being in space. Since there is no ‘up’, players will frequently have to reorient the camera view to accommodate the cosmonaut being spun around by their own motion, and of course, doing something simple like connecting two ends of a power cord becomes a minorly epic task as the player must manage their body position while accounting for each arm and the reactions of even the smallest motions.
The developers give a series of control options including one which is apparently a very serious take on what things would actually be like in this situation. I opted for the ‘assisted’ mode, which gave the ability to paddle my hands as though I was swimming in water to get some forward motion in situations where I would otherwise be stuck adrift. Wholly unrealistic to be sure, but it helped to preserve my sanity as I was trying to be a diligent cosmonaut, so it’s a good add.
Overall, I was quite impressed with Heavenly Bodies. Dealing with difficult physical manipulations is an idea we’ve seen iterated on several times, but the mission variety ranging from simple repairs to mining asteroids always brought something new to the table, and every section felt exactly the right length – every idea gets thoroughly explored, and nothing ever becomes punishing or repetitive. It absolutely has the measure of itself, and that’s not something every game can boast.
I greatly enjoyed my time with Heavenly Bodies and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys these types of physics-oriented titles – It’s a wisely-tuned spaceborne experience that does exactly what it wants to do and does it well. Mission accomplished.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by 2pt. Interactive. It is currently available on PS4/5 and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS5. Approximately six hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. No time was spent in the co-op mode.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains no descriptors. This gams is as safe as houses — no salty language, no violence, no sex. It’s just comsonauts doing their thing in space!
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is no spoken audio or any audio cues needed for gameplay, all information comes via text, and the text cannot be resized, but there is an option to implement case-sensitive text. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.
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