Batora_Lost_Haven_01
Follow Genre: Hack-n'-Slash, Adventure
Developer: Storming Games
Publisher: Team17
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Tested On: PC

Batora: Lost Haven – Preview

Good: Decent graphics, a few good ideas
Bad: Mediocre at best
User Score
6.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Games offering action and puzzles aren’t uncommon, with examples such as the Zelda franchise being rather prominent. However, lots of games fall into the pitfall of not making either of said hooks truly engaging because of lack of polish or simply because the base mechanics aren’t fleshed out properly. Batora: Lost Haven is an upcoming game with these and other issues. Here is what it has to offer.

Batora_Lost_Haven_01

Batora’s story takes place after a mysterious catastrophe has ravaged Earth, leaving survivors scrambling for survival. One such survivor is Avril, a young woman who keeps dreaming of strange beings beckoning her to meet them at a metro station. Upon doing so, these beings are revealed as the gods Sun and Moon, who proceed to empower Avril into a keeper of balance, tasked with restoring four planets in order to undo the cataclysm.

The characters featured in the story are generally entertaining and relatively interesting, although the game never truly provides them with enough time to properly develop. Out of the secondary cast, only the gods and Avril’s best friend get any proper evolution, with everyone else being rushed to fit in the segment dedicated to their specific planet. Although in normal circumstances this could work, Batora fails at it due to how heavily it steers players into its moral system, forcing heavy choices for characters that the player has no connection with due to the little time they spend on screen.

Batora’s graphics are rather good, consisting of varied 3D environments with interesting alien designs. This also extends to the characters and enemies, although the top-down view doesn’t particularly lend itself to much detail. That said, the game still has some issues that need to be ironed out, such as animations snagging during cutscenes, sandstorms not rendering properly, and other minor technical issues.

The game’s sound design is also decent, although nothing to write home about. Featuring an alright if somewhat generic “action” soundtrack and pretty good voice acting, Batora is somewhat let down by its SFX. While mostly okay, some outliers make certain segments of the game sound like a lumberyard due to the constant whirring of nearby portals, which hasn’t been properly adjusted when compared to everything else. This also applies to a handful of other sound effects here and there, although the aforementioned whirring is the most glaring issue, which may possibly be a pre-release bug.

Batora’s gameplay consists of a combination of isometric hack-n’-slash with tints of RPG and puzzles. Following a formula similar to The Legend of Zelda, the game attempts to integrate said puzzles in its progression, although it fails at making them even remotely challenging. The main gameplay loop will see players interacting with the inhabitants of the planets through shallow conversations before killing monsters on their way to the core, throwing in a few puzzles here and there.

Said puzzles consist of simple affairs where Avril will need to trigger mechanisms in order to move platforms to progress. In order to do so, she’ll have to match the color of her powers to the mechanism, roll balls on pressure plates, and in a specific case, memorize patterns. None of these puzzles present anything more than a minimum challenge, making them a faster alternative than combat whenever the option is present.

The combat itself is also a simplistic affair where players will control Avril while fighting small waves of enemies. In order to defeat them, they’ll have four abilities at their disposal, two per damage type, and a dash. Later into the game, players will also acquire the ability to unlock a temporary boost by dealing damage and another few minor upgrades, although the core combat systems remain the same all throughout.

Besides this, Batora also features a curious system where players will have to juggle two health bars and damage types. With Avril’s powers shifting between physical and mental, players will have to use the adequate type of damage for each enemy. Unluckily, this system is rather limited, mostly meaning enemies only take normal damage from their corresponding type. While a handful of enemies, bosses included, will need both types of damage to be taken down, the implementation makes it so that it just feels like doubling their health bar for no reason.

This is especially egregious for bosses, who occasionally swap between damage types but mostly stay on a single one. Once either of the health bars has been depleted, the boss simply changes type while stunned, allowing players to just deal the remaining damage and continue to the next phase without issue. Although the game seemingly attempts to prevent this by adding smaller monsters to boss arenas that continuously reappear, these pose hardly any danger and are little more than a nuisance.

Alongside the combat and puzzles, Batora also heavily features a karma system based on the previously mentioned moral choices. These choices will align Avril towards a “Guardian” or “Conqueror” mindset, providing points that will then allow her to equip badges of the corresponding side. Guardian badges tend to be more defensive while Conqueror ones provide attack bonuses, with the ones requiring neutral points generally bestowing special effects.

The main problem with this system is that most of the choices are incredibly limited to black or white, without a possible middle ground. Examples of this include Avril having to decide between causing a genocide or saving a single person she barely knows and similar heavy-handed choices. This poor handling of the choice system, which leaves the player limited to a binary choice, makes the story hard to engage with, ultimately making the karma system little more than a way to spec towards attack or defense.

Conclusion

Batora: Lost Haven is a rather drab game with little standing out beside the somewhat original idea of having two health bars and damage types. Players looking for a unique adventure game, RPG, or hack-n’-slash title will easily find better options elsewhere. Batora ultimately remains mediocre in most of its aspects. The game has currently not been released and this preview is limited to the first two chapters, but unless much is changed, recommending it at full price is questionable.

Personal Opinion

“Batora is not a bad game, but it is utterly mediocre. The puzzles are so simple and linear that you don’t need to think to solve them, while combat is reduced to whacking enemies till they drop. Out of what I played, I died perhaps 3 times in total, and this was only to the bosses’ harder-hitting attacks. Sure, the game doesn’t need to be hard, but if in several hours the only thing that manages to make a dent is getting caught in a big attack and getting one-shotted, then there is a problem. Not once did I feel in danger while fighting normal enemies, and eventually I just got bored whittling down their hit points. It is especially egregious for the orange (physical) enemies, which seem to have twice as much health and are a pain to deal with since you have to do so in melee range. This is not made better by the lack of an interesting story or compelling characters, since asking someone to care about an NPC they’ve had five dialogues with is half impossible.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Batora: Lost Haven - Preview, 6.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

1 Comment

  1. […] and Stormind Games have some great news for action-RPG fans. Their isometric action-RPG Batora: Lost Haven sees daylight on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. Batora: Lost […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    0 people found this helpful
    Was this review helpful?
    Yes
    No

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.