The main inspiration behind Where the Heart Is was to “create something that leaves a personal impression with players.” The new narrative adventure from Armature Studio, the co-creators of ReCore, looks to “evoke feelings” by creating an atmosphere where real-world choices are placed on the shoulder of players.
Speaking with SegmentNext in a recent interview, director Todd Keller stated that there are both procedurally generated and scripted choices in the game. Where the Heart Is crafts dialogue “while checking and rechecking paths to change narrative direction” based upon gameplay. The consequences of choices made will leave an impact on other characters, which will also be taken into account by the game to craft future choices.
Ultimately, “this combination provides a rich palette of choice with lots of surprises while maintaining the structure of the story,” said Keller. Such a narrative design will naturally birth multiple paths and branched narratives, meaning that players will be encouraged to opt for secondary or more playthroughs. Keller though had a hard time trying to confirm just how many playthroughs will let players explore all available options.
“Since there are a variety of paths, I would suggest playing once and jotting down an alternate path you might want to explore then try that upon completion of the first path” he said. “It is very difficult to see all combinations, even on multiple playthroughs, because the choices compile, so that’s why I think paying attention to something that might be of interest the first time would help your decision-making for a second playthrough.”
Where the Heart Is follows a character named Whit Anderson who falls down a sinkhole on his family farm and begins to relive moments of his life. These dream-like states will task players to make life-changing decisions for him. The game is strictly a storyteller and as such, there will be no power-ups or character advancements of the traditional kind.
Where the Heart Is remains in active development and will release for PlayStation 4, as well as PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility, around the holiday season. The game is part of the PlayStation Indies program which sees Armature Studio collaborating with Sony. Hence, the reason behind the PlayStation exclusivity. Any potential release for other platforms will be confirmed down the road.
While there will be no PlayStation 5-specific re-release, Keller did note that Where the Heart Is could make use of PlayStation 5 features. The adaptive triggers and haptic feedback of DualSense could in theory be used to “immerse the player in our conversations and increase their ability to discover items in the world.” Keller also praised the lightning-fast solid-state drive of PlayStation 5 and noted that “the complete package the PS5 offers is the best thing about the console.”
On the subject of a possible return for a ReCore sequel, Keller stated that there has been no “specific” discussion with Microsoft. However, should Microsoft make contact, Armature Studio would “love” to make a new ReCore game.