Slip the surly bonds of Earth for a serene, zero gravity space adventure with Heavenly Bodies.
"Come for the wacky physics game; stay for the astonishing attention to detail + audiovisual design + the best use of ropes you've ever seen in a game."
This month in the club, we're playing host Jini Maxwell's favourite game of 2021: 2pt Interactive's Heavenly Bodies. Heavenly Bodies is a serene physics puzzle game that offers audiences an opportunity to experience the body in zero gravity: you play as a cosmonaut who repairs, refines and navigates the complex machinery of Soviet spacecraft. Unlike many puzzle games, the solution to every puzzle is meticulously laid out in diagrams provided by mission control, which are always available in your beautifully rendered manual. The real challenge comes from learning how to negotiate the finely tuned mechanics that control the cosmonauts every wiggle and wave.
The result is a game that absolutely delights in embodiment, offering a challenge that encourages the kind of deep focus that feels rewarding in its own right. This is particularly true in the game's 'Newtonian mode,' which offers a more realistic depiction of a zero gravity environment than the more forgiving classic mode.
But there's no need to be intimidated by the physical challenge: for those who want to appreciate the beautiful interiors of the spacecraft, which are inspired by the optimistic space architecture sensibilities of the 70s, assisted mode allows for more movement and agency in the stunning expanses of space.
As Jini Maxwell wrote for ACMI's Best Videogames of 2021 roundup: "Negotiating the game’s immaculate interiors in zero gravity commands your full attention; so much so, that the experience of caring for the craft, unfolding solar panels and assembling telescopes, feels incredibly tender.
The tenderness comes partly from the game’s source of inspiration, soviet space architect Galina Balashova, whose interior designs softened the military machines of the space race, bringing a sense of the domestic to space shuttles and capsules. That sensitivity and humanity comes through here: at one point I opened a cabinet looking for a wrench and, when I found tennis rackets instead, I burst out laughing. I can imagine this would be doubly true while playing cooperatively with a friend, though I’ve been playing solo. It’s just sublime."
Heavenly Bodies is available on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
About our host
Jini Maxwell is ACMI's assistant curator, and an award-winning videogames journalist. They write about videogames and the people who make them. Follow them on Twitter.
Women & Non-Binary Gamers Club
Wish you had a book club for videogames? Now you do.
Join our monthly talk and play meetup to make new friends, share your love of new releases, geek out over old favourites and be part of a safe and inclusive community.
We ❤ videogames at ACMI
Explore articles, interviews and more on everything from the world of gaming.
Community Code of Conduct
Everyone participating in an ACMI Women & Non-Binary Gamer Club event — including, but not limited to the meets, clubs and talks — is required to agree to the following code of conduct. This includes all attendees, speakers, performers, patrons, and volunteers.
ACMI Women & Non-Binary Gamer Club will enforce this code during its events and throughout the year. We expect cooperation from everyone to ensure a safe, diverse, and welcoming environment.
The condensed version
ACMI is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion (or lack thereof). We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form.
Sexist, racist, discriminatory, or harassing language and imagery is not appropriate in the ACMI Women & Non-Binary Gamer Club community, in person or online. Participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the event and premises, as well as all future events without a refund at the discretion of ACMI.
The less condensed version
Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
Exception: discussion or images related to sex, pornography, discriminatory language, or similar is welcome if it meets all of the following criteria:
— It is necessary to the topic of discussion and no alternative exists
— It is presented in a respectful manner
— Attendees are respectfully given ample warning and opportunity to leave beforehand.
This exception specifically does not allow use of gratuitous sexual images as attention-getting devices or unnecessary examples.
Participants asked to stop any harassing behaviour are required to comply immediately.
If a participant engages in any of the aforementioned behaviour, ACMI may take any action they deem appropriate, from warning the offender to immediately expelling the offender with no refund.
Reporting and enforcement
If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact an ACMI Women & Non-Binary Gamer Club team member immediately. If you can’t or don’t wish to speak in person, or prefer to talk privately or electronically, contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
All reports will be handled in the strictest confidence.
This document was based on the work of XOXO Festival, JSConf, Geek Feminism, confcodeofconduct.com, and inspired by resources provided by Ashe Dryden.
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.