In every episode of Voltron, both the 1980s version and the current Netflix reboot, there’s always the same variation on a theme: a close-up of a giant lion-mech’s pilot in the heat of battle, sweat beading on their brow. The camera cuts to the enemy inside their own deadly ship, haughty and resplendent in their ritual armor. Outside, a power sword is raised for the killing blow. Someone’s eyeball jiggles.
Now, imagine if, rather than finishing the fight, the two pilots had a steamy make-out session instead.
That’s basically the concept behind Heaven Will Be Mine, the latest visual novel developed by Pillow Fight Games and Worst Girl Games. But reducing it to some kind of erotic cheesecake sells the final product short.
Where Heaven Will Be Mine excels is in creating multiple layers to its narrative, more even than you’d commonly find in the most obtuse anime series. Set in an alternate 1980s, three factions are fighting a war for the future of the human race. At a 50,000-foot level, it’s a story about transhumanism and what it means to be perceived as “other” by your own people. But up close, it’s an intimate portrait of three feisty female pilots.
First there’s Saturn. Impetuous and brash, she flies String of Pearls, a new-fangled prototype mech meant for close-in assassination work. Then there’s Pluto, a free and joyous spirit who controls the powerful Krun Macula, a massive mech capable of hurling small stars across the battlefield. Finally there’s Luna-Terra, a laconic, by-the-book veteran of the previous war. She pilots Mare Crisium, a classic-model mech that still fights with onboard guns and a gleaming spear.
From there, things get complicated. Saturn, Pluto and Luna-Terra all have a history together. They were trained in the same academy, as were their respective handlers back at mission control. As the story unfolds, there’s a delicious push and pull between the game’s three factions. In a choose-your-own-adventure style of interactive fiction, players get to control how the story ends. If you’d like, you can even replay the entire game, start-to-finish, as all three.
Along the way, the developers show their narrative skill in what parts of the action they choose to zoom in on. Whether duking it out across multiple exotic landscapes or hooking up in the flesh, writer Aevee Bee’s brisk, often poetic descriptions of the action keep things moving along. Every act is backlit by evocative, hand-drawn scenes and a perfectly-tuned trance soundtrack. A special edition of the game even includes the music as a separate digital download.
This sure as hell isn’t Voltron, and it’s not Macross or BattleTech either. Not by a long shot. But if you’ve ever felt like a stranger in your own body, or wondered what a kiss would do in place of a 30-megaton nuke, then you owe it to yourself to check out Heaven Will Be Mine.