Published and developed by The Game Bakers, Haven has been on our radar for quite some time now. Featuring art from Koyorin, Haven’s aesthetic is downright gorgeous and extremely visually pleasing. What exactly is Haven though and is it a worthwhile game to play?
Haven is a highly story-driven adventure role-playing game. Players will take on the role of either Kay or Yu on a mysterious planet known as Source. On Source, players will have to forage for food, fight off deadly creatures and try to repair their ship. Kay and Yu are in a relationship with each other and the game focuses heavily on this as it tells its tale.
The story kicks off with Kay and Yu having to gather food when disaster strikes while they are out exploring. An earthquake dislodges their parked ship off a hill and it ends up taking massive damage as it crashes to lower ground. Players will have to explore Source, discover its secrets and eventually repair their ship.
Haven’s gameplay is masterfully woven together with the story though. Players will hover and glide around on small floating islands on planet Source. These islets each have something known as “Flow” that, well, flows freely from them. Kay and Yu are able to use flow to hover and glide since it works as a power source for their anti-gravity boots. Following flow trails while gliding is quite satisfying as a core gameplay mechanic but the camera control can be a little bit iffy at times.
As you explore the islets, you’ll eventually encounter a “Rust” like substance that’s effectively choking the grass and contaminating the living environment. Haven’s story introduces combat at this point and Kay and Yu will have to fight off creatures that have been tainted by the Rust.
Combat in Haven is extremely simple. By pressing and holding specific buttons or keys, you’ll attack with either Kay or Yu. Kay and Yu can also combine their attacks together to perform a “Duo” attack which does more damage and is necessary to defeat more powerful foes. Combat is relatively simple and never gets too hard even in the late game. Haven is first and foremost a game that focuses on telling a story and it does this well.
In-between exploring the different islets that makeup Source, Kay and Yu will have to return back to their damaged ship or “Nest” as it’s known to them. At the Nest, players will be treated to visual novel-esque scenes between Kay and Yu that explore their relationship with each other as they cook, clean, sleep and chat. These visual novel scenes can also take place out on the islets but a lot of the major plot developments dealing with their relationship with each other takes place back at the Nest.
Players can choose different responses during some visual novel scenes and this can build a relationship meter which unlocks further responses and other interactions later. Cooking different foods also leads to new conversations and the authenticity of Kay and Yu’s relationship is great. These are two likeable characters that have quite a lot of character development and back-story to share with players.
Where Haven stumbles though is that there is an inconsistency in the writing. Some scenes are extremely well-crafted and the conversations between Kay and Yu are great. Others, however, feel slightly trope-filled and strange. Thankfully though, the majority of the game’s story and lore being explored by the visual novel scenes is intriguing and keeps you coming back for more.
Another notable stumbling block lies with the game’s actual exploration and combat gameplay. The islets all feel very samey and fighting off enemies turns into an annoying hindrance keeping you from the story the game has to offer. Players will also lack a radar or map in the early part of the game and can easily get lost as they explore the islets. This might annoy some gamers in the early part of the game.
Graphically, Haven is a beautiful game. The art style and overall aesthetic are extremely visually pleasing and reminiscent of a watercolour painting. The character designs of Kay and Yu are great and the visual effects in combat are quite flashy, especially when performing “Duo” attacks.
The soundtrack of Haven is excellent with renowned musician DANGER having contributed to the OST. The voice acting is also perfectly done with both Kay and Yu sounding authentic in their conversations. Janine Harouni and Chris Lew Kum Hoi have performed fantastically as Yu and Kay respectively.
Overall, Haven is an enjoyable story-driven adventure following the tale of a romantically involved couple who risked it all for freedom. There’s plenty of fun aspects of the game that will keep you entertained and if you’re an emotional type, there’s a lot of heartfelt moments to be had here. The combat and actual gameplay might be slightly lacklustre but the storytelling has been intertwined into the game in an enjoyable manner that entertains for 10 hours or more. We recommend giving Haven a try.
Haven is available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5
This review is based on the PC version of the game which can be purchased here for £19.49.
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