Throughout life, we make decisions that can have the littlest of impacts. Choosing what drink to have with a meal. What sweater to wear with an outfit. How many episodes of Breaking Bad to watch in one sitting. They may not seem like much, but they effect our enjoyment or the way we feel. Sometimes, bigger decisions present themselves. Every second of our day is made up of how we exercise free will. No matter how insignificant or profound a choice may be, our lives can be changed in ways we may never consider. Where the Heart Leads is a game about these choices. It is about family. Love. It is about how we shape our own narrative.
After a sinkhole appears in Whit’s garden during a storm, the family dog falls in and is left helpless. When Whit attempts to save the golden retriever, it sets off a journey through every choice he’s ever made, and some he is still to make. From the time as a teenager on his father’s farm to growing up and making a family of his own, you uncover more and more of Whit’s life. Sometimes the memories last a while. Others are short snapshots where everything can change in the flutter of a heartbeat.
Where the Heart Leads: Wonderful writing
The writing is excellent in Where the Heart Leads. Whilst conversations can seem insignificant or drawn out, I found them to be integral to understanding Whit’s life. We have families that can frustrate us or make us angry. However, we could never imagine a world without them. Armature has found the sweet spot in every scenario. Certain memories were easy to relate to. Young love, and trying to find the right words to say. Terrified of rejection, but enamoured by the potential to be instantly happy, intoxicated by romance and connection.
With every decision comes the potential for something to go wrong. It is the risk and reward of life. Sometimes, we don’t know we’ve messed up until our actions have consequences. Seeing these play out can be hard to watch. Whit is a good guy who tries to be the rock his family needs. He tries to be the good brother, son, and husband. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always mean making the right decision. Where the Heart Leads has a lot of dialogue, but it helps to become integrated into the engaging narrative you find yourself in.
Comforting and creative
You become familiar with Whit and his family. This world of imagination and reality offers genuine warmth that makes some of the decisions difficult to make. Although this is very much the story of Whit, it feels like yours. Like I said, it is very relatable. It is clear Armature love what they have made here. Not only does it feel very real, there are elements of David Lynch and his warped sense of reality that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Playing Where the Heart Leads is a simple experience. Walk from one conversation to the next and interact with silhouettes. By doing so, you progress the current memory. There are plenty of these interactions. They help you understand everything that got Whit to where he was, and often disarm you as the player when it comes to making those important life choices. I don’t want to ruin some of the later game stuff, but I was hooked throughout. It features a beautifully-crafted story that you can’t help but feel an emotional connection to.
Where the Heart Leads: A beautiful snapshot of growing up
The art style is gorgeous. The different locations like the farm and the quaint town of Carthage are filled with detail. Wherever you find yourself, there’s beauty in everything. Where the Heart Leads almost feels dreamlike at times, and the design choices to help build these memories have been wonderfully detailed. The music is consistent across every memory. Whilst parts of the soundtrack are slow and balanced in their tone, others have melodies that tug on the heartstrings and make particular moments more impactful.
On a personal level, Where the Heart Leads struck many different chords. As a father and husband, life can get ahead of you. You’re so busy trying to do right by everyone that you forget to take a step back and realise what you have. After all, life is what you make it. The problem is sometimes it is often to late. If you want to feel immersed in a story that is easy to connect with, Where the Heart Leads has it in spades.
It is clear Where the Heart Leads was made by a team with plenty of talent. Not only in the way the game plays, but in the story and its relatable moments. I saw a lot of myself in Whit, and it helped to feel a deep connection with the game’s narrative. It flows well, and the pace picks up once you’ve got past the initial early stages of declaring your love for Rene. From there, it becomes a truly wonderful narrative adventure through life and the way we try to make it special for everyone around us.
Beautiful art style
Relatable and poignant
Some memories are drawn out