Haven – Review
Follow Genre: Exploration, Romance
Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Platform: PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Windows
Tested On: PC (Steam)

Haven – Review

Site Score
7.2
Good: Good story and characters
Bad: Repetitive tasks
User Score
6.0
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 6.0/10 (4 votes cast)

Most games focus on a pair of genres, doing as much as possible with them and attempting to innovate. This is not the case for Haven, which instead combines a whole slew of them to interesting results. We were quite curious to see how this mix of genres would work out for Haven, with its interesting visual style.

Story

Haven follows the story of Kay and Yu, a couple of lovebirds who escaped from a system opposed to their relationship, to a planet of floating islands called Source. Back in their home, known as the Hive, partners were formed by the nebulous Matchmaker, matching together people seemingly perfect for each other. Sadly, this system left no room for true love, which didn’t sit well with the game’s protagonists.

After a while living on Source, an earthquake strikes, crashing their parked spaceship and splitting the island they were on, leaving them stranded. Luckily, the earthquake also opens several bridges of the substance known as Flow, allowing them to access the other islands and go back to their ship.

Once they get back, they find out a lot of parts have broken, setting the objective of the game: finding replacement pieces to fix their ship. While obtaining these replacements, the couple also explores the planet, discovering more about its past story. The game does quite a good job of slowly introducing players to the world without heavy information dumps or heavy exposition.

Haven’s story is not a very important part of the game, although the interactions between the two main characters are. Anyone who knows or is a lovey-dovey couple in real life will know what to expect, cheesy jokes, constant teasing, raunchy moments, etc. All of these dialogues are also surprisingly well written, capturing how real people would act and talk to each other.

 

Graphics

Haven’s graphics are quite good, combining two completely different styles. While the gameplay occurs in 3D environments with models, the dialogues act as a visual novel, showing portraits of the character speaking on the side.

While the world and monsters of the game look quite good, the models for both playable characters tread the uncanny valley at times. This particularly occurs in areas with weird lightning, where the shadows decrease the overall quality and muddy the details.

It is also worth mentioning that even if the different areas feature different landmarks, they are not particularly unique. Most of them blur past each other without having anything to stand out for them. The few outliers are generally directly related to the story or those containing heavy machinery.

Sound

The game’s sound is really well covered, with an amazing soundtrack, good SFX and complete voice acting.  Haven has 19 different tracks of music to go through, all of ‘standard’ song length with even a 10-minute track. The voice acting is quite good with a passionate delivery that makes the characters sound human and not just actors reading a script; there are even different banter dialogues the characters cycle through during exploration and combat.

Gameplay

As previously stated, Haven’s gameplay covers several genres; mainly open-world exploration combined with a romantic visual novel, while still containing turn-based RPG elements. While the game handles this mix of genres quite well, it still means some mechanics and elements are left half baked, mainly the exploration and RPG ones.

The main game mechanics are quite simple, with the core loop focusing on exploring the world of Source. Yu and Kay both have a pair of anti-gravity boots powered by Flow, which allows them to swiftly glide through the world. By following Flow threads, they can recharge their boots and, later into the game, hover to set locations. Also later into the game, players unlock the ability to use Flow blasts, allowing them to open locked doors and stun chasing enemies.

Although the movement is mostly smooth, the controls can be dodgy at times and the choice to have the camera locked while gliding by default doesn’t help either. Taking short turns, in particular, can be quite finicky, despite the ability to grind corners. Luckily, it comes down to a matter of getting used to them, even if some more initial polish could’ve been good.

While exploring, players can find different items, which may be decoration for the spaceship or resources for crafting and cooking. These resources appear in fixed spots and reappear naturally overnight, once the player sleeps. Although collecting resources is not necessary, it is heavily recommended since the game offers no other way of healing than by eating or crafting medicine.

The most common resource of all is Rust, and cannot be collected freely. Rust is a red substance found “corrupting” the islands and the creatures inhabiting them, which can be cleaned and collected by gliding over it, then being used to fix the ship or craft combat items.

All craftable items have a shared issue, that being the crafting system, which only allows players to create one unit of an item at a time after which a short cutscene plays. This, combined with the whole process of collecting the items themselves through the world without reliable fast traveling, makes any crafting absolutely sluggish.

The combat is not much better either, with barely any changes throughout the game. Yu and Kay both are able to use a melee and a ranged attack, to which different enemies may be strong or weak against. After playing a while, players will also unlock the option to have both use the same attack for a more powerful effect. Sadly, there is not much more to say about it; enemies attack on a set timer and players can only reduce the damage by defending, dedicating one of the two characters to it completely. This makes combat quite repetitive after a while, particularly once all monsters, about a dozen, have been met.

This same issue applies to the exploration, which, as previously mentioned, is made up of samey areas with few landmarks. Even though there are a few different environments, these mostly contain the same enemies and resources, bar a few new ones. Later into the story, this means there is barely anything new to see, making players repeat the same actions over and over.

Conclusion

Haven is a game with great character interactions a decent story ultimately bogged down by the repetitiveness of the gameplay. Those who can get past it will get an enjoyable and entertaining game with about 8 to 10 hours of gameplay to enjoy. Be warned, it’s the story that somewhat reigns supreme in this one, and the flashy visuals in the trailer may not live up to your expectations.

Personal Opinion

“Although I generally had fun with Haven, I found the later part of the game very repetitive and sluggish. A particularly demoralizing moment came after I realized there was an achievement for dying less than three times in the whole game, something easily doable if only I hadn’t been dying on purpose to fast travel back to the ship. You see, the only way to do so otherwise is to find certain spots where a friendly creature will take a piece of food to fast travel. These spots appear only in certain areas, without map indicators for reference. There are also some zones where rest is possible, although they are few and far between. By the last few missions, I was struggling to remain interested in the gameplay, with only the prospect of seeing the story’s conclusion enticing me.”

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Rating: 6.0/10 (4 votes cast)
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Haven - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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