Where The Heart Leads PS4 Review. I have spent many, many years playing narrative-driven games and come across some experiences that have moved me in my time. But, no game has ever left me sobbing at the credits until I finished Where The Heart Leads. A true masterwork from Armature Studio, Where The Heart Leads focuses on life, the choices we make, the friends and family we connect with, and the slow end to everything that awaits us when we grow old and grey.
I’m not sure if it was the moment I was in when I completed the game, where I am in life personally or what, but Where The Heart Leads and the way it tells its narrative makes you care about every single person within it hit me in a way no game ever has. So, upon rolling the credits, I went down to my fridge, cracked open a beer, and proceeded to write this review and tell you just why my time playing Where The Heart Leads was just so special.
Where The Heart Leads PS4 Review
A Cast To Connect With
Where The Heart Leads is about Whit, a man living in the town of Carthage in the United States of America. After a freak storm, Whit falls into a large sinkhole that has formed outside his house leaving his partner Rene, and his two children, Alex and Kate up top, while he is deep down within a set of caverns that twis and contort all around him.
On his way back to the surface, he goes on an ethereal journey back through his past, the moments that shaped him, and into his future, the moments that have yet to happen. On this journey you dip in and out of Whit’s life, seeing him and his family at various points, from young adolescents enjoying their first taste of love to empty nest parents thriving off the free time (and lack of dependents), creating a sustainable life for them well into their retirement years.
Armature’s way of having you hop into Whit and Rene’s life, his brother Sege’s career opportunities and unique perspective, and catching up with everyone in the town to see where they have been since you last saw them is a stroke of genius, as you build up your connection with them and slowly learn to love every person in their own way one scene after another.
Sege might create more problems than he solves, but at the end of the day he is your brother. You feel every piece of work Armature has done to translate that feeling in reality into Where The Heart Leads, whether it is through the excellent writing that effectively conveys everyone’s personalities or the emotional and fitting soundtrack that accompanies each scene perfectly.
There are dozens and dozens of scenes in the game that do this but in my ten hours with the game, I formed genuine connections with every single member of Whit’s family and friendship circle and was fully invested in their futures.
Gameplay And Narrative Harmoniously Intertwined
That work is also bolstered by the gameplay which has you wondering around these various moments of Whit’s life, interacting with everyone who was around at the time and just talking with them. You learn their personalities, their interests, their hobbies, their crushes, and even their enemies. Armature have been able to accurately translate the process of learning details about people, growing to like someone, or just becoming a friend with someone like Where The Heart Leads does.
So many games boast about how you will feel “connected to your companions”, “develop meaningful relationships”, etc, etc. etc. But for all the talk, none of those games ever really are able to do that and here, Where The Heart Leads does it naturally and effortlessly. It is a game without spectacle but all the more memorable because of it. Part of that is thanks to the game’s reliance on providing advice and making choices that affect both the short-term and long-term in a way far greater than anything Telltale were able to do in their time.
You become Whit because you take over his thoughts, you provide the advice he would give in a number of situations and by extension Whit is you, especially if you play the game making the choices you would in the situations he is presented with, like I did. These choices are important and affect many, many outcomes and are never black or white. They are all thoroughly, thoroughly grey and feel representative of real-life choices we all have to make. It really made me stop and think about how what I have said in the past has affected people, their outcomes, and whether or not the advice I gave was the right advice.
The excellent writing between all the characters also goes a long way to make these choices interesting and the relationships that form worth investing in. Sure, some of these gameplay sections are a little long in the tooth and I think there may be a few too many scenes overall, but when you look at the whole experience, Armature’s work to blend the narrative and gameplay of Where The Heart Leads is unparalleled.
A Tale To Tell The Story Of Existence
As I said at the start of this review, no game has put me through the emotions like Where The Heart Leads did. The entire epilogue of the game, which is lengthy, had me on the verge of tears until I hit the final scene and my tear duct damn broke. At age 21 and as someone who is about to leave their youth behind them, making that full transition into being an adult, Where The Heart Leads is a game that will shape my decisions moving forward in life and resonated with me unlike anything else I have experienced in my life.
It has given me a window into adulthood, how exciting it can be, but also how uncertain it is. It showed me just how much everything in our existence is balanced on a tightrope and one small storm could cause the whole structure to come collapsing down. Most importantly, it told me to my face just how thankful I should be of every opportunity I get and the time I spend with the people I love, whether it be the moments I am back home with my family or the times I get so drunk with friends that we are all dancing and laughing together at 4 AM. It taught me to enjoy the wonderful moments life brings and not sit back on the sidelines. Ever.
Because, in all honesty, life isn’t always great and it isn’t always happy, but the relationships I form with people and the moments we share together will be what truly makes my life worthwhile. I have never seen a game capture the full timeline of existence like Where The Heart Leads does and do it in such a way that resonated with me so deeply. Where The Heart Leads has given me a life-altering perspective I never knew I needed.
A Narrative To Hold Onto For A Lifetime
I don’t really know how to end this review or sum up my thoughts on Where The Heart Leads because while touching on the themes of the game while writing this review I began to cry again. Anyway, Armature has created by far one of the best narrative experiences I have played and an experience that you should play if you want a deep, methodical, and resonating look at life and its many, many complexities.
Whether it is the passing of elderly loved ones and the regret you have that you couldn’t do more, or the troubles between friends and siblings, or even just the small friendships you have with John Doe down the road, Where The Heart Leads touches on all of that and in a complex way most games only dream of. It is an experience that will shape my outlook on the decades of life I have yet to experience and also made me look back at the years I have spent and whether or not I did what was right at the time.
For me, Where The Heart Leads was a deeply personal journey that left me excited about life’s possibilities, anxious about the uncertainty of it, but also absolutely terrified of just how brief it all is. I can’t guarantee yours will be the same, but Where The Heart Leads is an experience everyone should try, just to see if it sticks with them, even slightly.
Where The Heart Leads is available now on PS4.
Review copy kindly provided by publisher.