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Cart #the_heavens_1-0 | 2023-08-31 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | No License

You were born in an unassuming star system but your fate lies in

The Heavens

Carve a path through the stars, conquer asteroids, colonize planets, and unearth the mysteries of an ancient alien race as you build your stellar empire. Your ultimate goal? Chart a course to the edge of the known universe!

The universe awaits — are you ready?

Controls & How to Play

Master your controls to navigate the cosmic playground:

Directional Pad

Thrusters: Hold the UP button to engage.
Turning: Use LEFT and RIGHT to maneuver your ship.
Mini-map: Hold DOWN to view your galactic surroundings.


Tools Menu: Press the V key to access your tools menu, featuring your Cannon, Fuel Collector, Settlement, and Hyperdrive.

Ore: Obliterate asteroids to collect Ore.

Ammo: Automatically replenishes over time

Fuel: When close to a fuel source such as a gas giant or the sun, equip your Fuel Collector from the tools menu and activate it with the C key.

Hyperdrive: Once unlocked, grants you the ability to traverse between solar systems

Resource Management: Balance your resources—blue Fuel, green Ammo, and yellow Ore—to power your journey.

Colonization: Gather enough yellow Ore and land on an uncolonized habitable planet, and you can establish a new Settlement.

Colonizing solar systems also increases your hyperdrive capability.

Settlement Platforms: Platforms on Settlements replenish your fuel.

Solar Expansion: Start new runs from any of your colonized solar systems. Expand out into the galaxy to further your progress.

Probes: Collect alien probes to enhance your ships systems and extend your warp range, guiding you to the last star.

Star Map: Open your star map by pressing the B button when your mini-map is open

Activate your selected tool with the C key.

P#133783 2023-08-31 14:00


Wow this is super cool.

P#133810 2023-09-01 01:49

The gravity mechanics and graphics are so good, it feels pretty realistic :D

P#133816 2023-09-01 05:32

I love the aesthetics and slow pace of this game, but I keep warping directly into the gravity well of a star on the second or third jump (3 times in 6 attempts). Am I missing something, or did I just get bad luck?

P#134070 2023-09-09 01:10

If you're warping to the same star then it might be a small solar system with 1 planet and the chance of you ending up within the vicinity of a star is increased because it finds a random location within the system within range of the planets. Most of the time you can still escape the gravity of the star when warping within range by going perpendicular to the star so you end up in its orbit instead of fighting directly against its gravity. There are times when it's inescapable though and it's the luck of the draw given the rng.

P#134072 2023-09-09 01:58

The dithering around planets looks so good! 🌍🤩

P#134464 2023-09-16 23:00

Love this game so much, it's def one of my favorites.

P#134829 2023-09-24 08:49

This is one of my favorite Pico-8 games, although I do miss combat, but it is hard enough... A question... on the map view on your gif it shows your trajectory. Did you remove this? seems pretty useful ;)

P#138410 2023-12-07 21:01

I've enjoyed playing this game and just finished it. It was frustrating at times, particularly when warping into a sun, but it kept me coming back. The physics, graphics and music were all very well done.

P#138428 2023-12-08 04:04

@makaGeorge - Yeah, I ended up removing it since I needed the tokens for additional features and it was a little confusing to a few early testers.

P#138429 2023-12-08 04:28

Has a Maelstrom (1992) feel, like an astroids clone on steroids. The ability menu and controls are solid, gfx are incredible, and the gameplay... omg the space theme immersion feels like a AAA space exploration game. Just fenominal! Thank you so much for making this game, I just wish I was better at playing it :)
I am very bad at landing.... oh wait only green can land? It would help to know that blue and yellow suns/gas clouds are impossible to land on. Would be nice to have a landing assist in settlement mode or a no crash mode that is all about fuel. I usually last all of 10 seconds before crashing... or 30 seconds if avoid crashing and run out fuel. Otherwise, there is a simply mind blowing game here!

P#138494 2023-12-09 20:02 ( Edited 2024-01-09 02:00)

Great ! I love the experience and will try to finish the game.
Are galaxy generated randomly ?

P#146573 2024-04-13 22:01

What do I do with the black holes ("unknown object")? I tried shooting them, collecting fuel and hyperdriving into them. I keep dying in the first galaxy.

ok, I figured it out

land on it

P#146695 2024-04-15 14:47 ( Edited 2024-04-15 15:06)

This is great but please add a confirmation on the "New Galaxy" option, or better yet, move it to the pause menu. If you die while holding down Up and C (very easy to do if you crash into a star while fuel scooping and trying to escape) it will select "New Galaxy" and wipe your save as soon as you return to the main menu. Even without that bug, it's far too easy to idly hit an arrow key at the menu and accidentally wind up on "New Galaxy"--there's no cursor and red text vs. white is not a clear indicator.

I've lost my save twice now and I don't think I have the energy to start over again.

P#146835 2024-04-17 17:51 ( Edited 2024-04-17 17:51)

Great game, I'm terrible at it but keep enjoying it. The art of refueling from a sun still escapes me.

Got a game crash while trying to wrap directly from a planet I just refueled from.

P#146955 2024-04-19 17:39

@Hamano yep, they're generated procedurally, and can be remade with the New Galaxy option in the menu.

@PhasmaFelis Thanks for the feedback. It's hard to add anything without removing something else since I'm right at the token limit, so I might not be able to add a confirm dialog, but maybe I could shift it to a new place

@RealShadowCaster I'll see if I could replicate. Were you warping while grounded on a colonized planet? Also, refueling from a sun is easier after upgrading your ship after collecting a few alien probes - your ship has more thrust, max speed, and can escape the high gravitational pull a bit better.

P#146966 2024-04-19 19:18 ( Edited 2024-04-19 19:20)

Finished the game. 108 Explorers were lost. Until around level 4-5, if I remember correctly, it was all small steps, collecting ore and warping back to refuel, with as much colonization as possible.
After that, refueling from suns became manageable, so a lot of probes were lost with warp/refill, warp/refill. A few memorable crashed on the alien planets, and also an even more memorable clutch save where most of the landing was handled with the gun recoil, as there was no fuel left, a full cargo of ore and a planet very far from the last colonized one. Around level 7, I think, exploration became warp/warp/refill, going straight for the signals, only colonizing if lots of ore and a planet was available at the same time.
In the end, only questions remain. What were the aliens thinking, why leave their technology in parts like a bread crumb trail ?
What were they saying ? I didn't pay much attention to the cryptic wisdom ramble, only eying the tech increase at the time. What did they do to burn their planets ?
There's also the question of the colonists. During exploration, I sent ships without care on way too risky explorations, and many burned trying to refill. Was that recklessness necessary ?
When a ship full of ore is able to colonize a planet, did 108 pilots died bravely, knowing that trillions would live thanks to them, or did I sacrifice colonization ships full of millions of people each time I pushed forward too hard ? I'm getting Ender Wiggin vibes, after the fact...

@reskob, thank you for the awesome experience. Wish I could replay the history of the conquest, with the map growing, the losses, the changes in strategy an skill, the tech gained and the messages, that would have made a great 5mn ending.

P#147148 2024-04-22 22:13

@RealShadowCaster Wow! Thank you so much for the review and writeup of your journey. I started this game awhile back in Unity and eventually quit due to feature creep, and picked it up again in Pico-8 which made me try and simplify the game down to its core gameplay and progression loop, trying to incorporate many of those questions and experiences that you had. It really is heartwarming hearing someone engage with it in the way you've written about and I could only have hoped. Thank you!

P#147192 2024-04-23 13:57

I think the Gravity is the speciality.different planets have different situations.

P#147229 2024-04-24 04:37

This game, is absolute unfiltered garbage and bullshit filled with high hopes and crushed dreams. It is near impossible to land on YOUR OWN PLANET. You cannot possible know how fast you have to go to crash into your planet with a full ore cargo.

There is no way this was not intended. The gameplay must’ve been like that from the beginning. The lightest acceleration into any plant instantly kills you. 67 explorers lost. I haven’t managed to land even once.

This game brings only rage, unfiltered anger and frustration. You cannot have possible made a less forgiving gameplay than this. Not even once I’ve managed to land on any planet.

Zero, out of ten.

P#147278 2024-04-25 02:19

@randomgoober thanks for giving it a shot!

P#147280 2024-04-25 02:29

“You were born on Theta Quartus…” the admiral pauses for dramatic effect “But your fate lies in the heavens!” the crowd gathered around the launch pad erupts in applause. A bottle is smashed on the side of the Emergent Wisdom. You clap and cheer with the rest of them but inside your thoughts are darker than the night sky

“Ha- my fate probably lies at the bottom of a god forsaken gravity well” you think. You’ve heard the rumors: ships coming out of hyperspace directly into a star; others trying to refuel by entering a wildcat orbit around gas giants. The poor souls who are too sane or scared to try that end up pushing their fuel to the limit and vaporize mid-warp. Your captain seems to have mastered the planetary landing and refueling in the simulator- but you hear simulations can only go so far.

Before tomorrow’s launch, you have one last round of offices to clean so you sneak away from the celebrations. As you’re emptying the recycling you spy a memo. The ship launching tomorrow isn’t referred to as the Emergent Wisdom by the officials. They simply call it “Explorer 38”. You try not to think about what happened to Explorer 37…

P#147615 2024-04-30 01:51

@relaxation pancake: beautiful :')

P#147622 2024-04-30 03:20 ( Edited 2024-04-30 03:21)

Awesome game. I think this may be my favorite on PICO-8. There is a good amount of depth to the mechanics of filling up the ship, landing, mining, accelerating and enough risk when warping and navigating to feel engaging. Losing the gamble is pretty brutal though. I made it several systems without colonizing and was really getting the hang of filling up fuel from the blue planets, only to crash into the probe too quickly :(. I had to take a break after that, but I'll be back. The atmosphere of the game is impressive. I'm shocked how lost I can get in the game's visuals and sound considering the simplicity.

I have a question: how realistic is it for stars in the background to move that quickly? It does give a good sense of motion, but I would expect them to be nearly stationary except for some twinkling perhaps. (Of course they move when in hyperdrive, I'm referring to their motion when normally navigating a system.)

P#147693 2024-05-01 04:19 ( Edited 2024-05-01 04:25)

@geojax thanks! You're absolutely right, it's not very realistic, but it's one of the few ways of showing some sense of movement and ship velocity when nothing else is around so it's heavily exaggerated

P#147694 2024-05-01 04:41

I have made some sensible progress.

I must admit, even if this game is extremely infuriating, it doesn’t stop me from playing it. After hundreds of attempts I’ve managed to collect ore and safely land multiple times on the planet.

One thing I still cannot do, is land on the black hole, whatever that sparkling black object is. Its pull is too strong to quickly react to, and the process of getting to it is quite an endurance test. I suggest decreasing the pull of the object, or at least making collision with it not be instant death, or rather a crash land, since I presume it’s something you can walk on, since you can crash onto it. I’m by no means someone whose advice you should follow, but it’d be nice to have something more forgiving than this experience.

P#147748 2024-05-02 01:03 ( Edited 2024-05-02 01:04)

@randomgoober, If you are playing on a keyboard , keep the down key pressed while approaching the dark planet (green on the radar). kill lateral speed so you are going straight to the planet while pointing away from it. do light taps forwards (keep the down radar key pressed) so you keep moving slowly towards the planet. You can't land on the planet if you wait to see it onscreen to adjust your speed. Once the planet is onscreen, release the down key and keep light tapping up to maintain a near zero speed while landing.
If you are on mobile or playing with a d-pad controller, tough luck, it's very hard to switch between radar and thrust without turning.
To get the best of both worlds, I'm using the down key on the keyboard for the radar, ad the controller's d-pad for the ship steering. This way I can control both independently.

P#147756 2024-05-02 07:37

This is a really good game, even though I'm really bad at it. Not sure what caused this error, I was hyperdriving after I created a new explorer and it happened.

P#147930 2024-05-04 22:03 ( Edited 2024-05-04 22:04)

love this. so much. I gotta say without the token limit this game would be able to do so much more with itself, but I've jsut got the hang of things and am definitely enjoying myself. though there is maybe a chance I need to stop flying recklessly into gas giants and stars lol.

P#148438 2024-05-15 17:47

@SgtMajorKiwi Thanks! Yeah, definitely wish I had more tokens, but at the same time it let me focus on the core of the game and gave me a stopping point when I just couldn't do more.

P#148442 2024-05-15 18:45

so fun, it's incredible this was made for pico-8!
I saw the comment somewhere else, it's really a bummer when you warp and spawn inside a star or asteroid. Especially if you've carefully warped a few solar systems away from a colonized one. I think you said it's just the luck of the rng draw. Even with that "flaw", which usually causes me to rage quit, I keep coming back.

P#148564 2024-05-17 18:14

A lot of times the first black object does not spawn :<

P#149043 2024-05-27 19:33

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