Haven is a 3rd person adventure game created by The Game Bakers, who previously made Furi. Haven is the story of two lovers, Yu and Kay, crash landing their ship, the Nest, on an unknown planet to avoid living life on their home planet. After a few days, Yu and Kay leave to recharge the power inside the Nest, but seismic activity creates havoc for our characters. To Survive, they must now find and repair their ship venturing bravely across the planet.
As you traverse the world, you’ll find ruins of a civilization long past scattered across floating chunks covered in a mysterious substance, rust, that is corrupting the surrounding wildlife. As Yu and Kay travel the world, they can take damage and become hungry. Damage can be healed through healing items that you can craft inside the Nest, and food can keep hunger away but only eaten inside the Nest or one of the various campsites scattered across the chunks.
Moving in Haven is a smooth ride.
Movement in Haven is unique most of the time and a bit awkward in specific scenarios. In the Nest, you don’t control Yu or Kay but instead, a floating camera that you can use to interact with areas in your ship to initiate different actions such as dialogue exchanges and cutscenes. Out in the world, however, you can move using a gliding system that is amazingly fleshed out. You can drift, perform u-turns or ride threads of energy that lead to different places in the area you’re in. Gliding is used to clean up and collect rust to avoid it from spreading in the world chunk you’re currently in. However, if you’re not gliding, you’re slowly walking around to interact with non-hostile creatures or collecting fruits, nuts, or other ingredients to keep Yu and Kay fed. Even as you level up, there are no options to increase walking speed or sprint to make collecting or petting creatures less of a chore. It’s either dead walking or fast gliding.
Combat in Haven takes the form of a JRPG Active time battle system like in the old final fantasy games. In this system, Yu or Kay uses a mix of melee or ranged attacks, items crafted from rust, or blocking attacks from enemies. There is no menu in combat to use these abilities, but instead, you have to hold and release the left and right sticks or D-pad and controller buttons in specific directions to initiate these actions.
There are a few nuances where if you defeat an enemy, it remains on the field until you use the pacify ability. Some enemies require you to strike with a melee attack and immediately follow it up with a long-range attack to inflict maximum damage. Alongside this, block ability allows Yu or Kay to fly in front of one or another to block an attack from an enemy. Having one of them constantly block instead of taking turns with each other reduces the effectiveness of blocking.
Simple visuals, fantastic voice acting, and a great soundtrack
The sights and sounds of Haven are a mixed bag in terms of quality. The graphics can be simple to look at but use lighting, wind physics, and particle effects to spice up common areas. For example, in one part of the game, the area you traverse hides rust due to a shift in the color palette, forcing you to better observe the area. While the game’s sound effects are bareboned, the music makes one heck of an impression with highlights in the battle music and ending soundtrack. As you explore the world or rest in your ship or camp, you’ll learn all about Yu and Kay and their history through voice acting that is extremely impressive. And how well they play off each other with corny dialogue that makes them feel like real lovers.
Despite the sound effects not leaving much of an impact, the movement polarization, and small performance issues like framerate drops, I still found Haven to be a fun and relaxing game. Haven shows The Game Bakers ambition to go out of their comfort zone and still deliver a one of a kind, relaxing but short 10-15 hour experience.
Haven is available on Xbox One, Series X|S, PS5, and PC for $24.99. It is also included with Xbox Game Pass, with later releases to be announced for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch this year.
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Haven is a relatively short but unique experience with fantastic combat and a wonderful soundtrack. But it lacks in some areas, such as awkward and slow movement speed at certain stages of the game.