PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC. Nintendo Switch & PS4 due Q1 2021.
The wait is finally over~! One of my favorite niche independent game studios released one of Haven’s most anticipated video games.
I was so thrilled to get my hands on this because I am highly aware of what The Game Bakers can do. Their previous game, Furi, was a neon futuristic, aesthetically pleasing, frustratingly cool concoction of action and bullet hell elements. This independent game company comprises two people who are well versed in the video game industry, having worked on AAA games.
Starting up Haven, you’re greeted by the main characters’ bright and beautiful watercolor-esque art. I was blown away, put at ease when watching the opening. It was a feel-good game, and honestly, they even tell you that it IS a feel-good game at the beginning of the game.
I was suspicious because usually, when something tells you it’s something in video games, it tends to be the opposite, but I was still excited.
You are in control of a couple, Yu and Kay, who seems to be on the run and have crash-landed on a planet that full of islets and seems to be void of human life. I was amused at the couple’s banter and the differences in each of the characters’ personalities. Brash, straightforward, kind, considerate, but yet snarky, that is what makes up the couple.
All of the dialogue between Yu and Kay are voiced, and additional characters appear in the game. I do have to admit some of the banter had me cringing as it reminded me of things that I could have said back when I was in junior high school and times where I had a good laugh. Honestly, the dialogue between the two really gives the omnipotent player a look into their relationship. After the couple’s banter, you are given your tutorial and the option to explore and collect ingredients.
You learn that you, in fact, have to scour the planet for ingredients to survive, as well as gather fuel from this energy source called Flow. It’s used to power their ship, the Nest, and give an additional boost to the boots and gloves that the couple wears.
After some unexpected turbulence, Yu and Kay can explore the planet more and come across this reddish-purplish substance called Rust. In addition to the Rust, they discover that creatures and experience situations that pushes their relationship. They also discover things that make them question if the planet really is empty.
Upon getting used to the controls and getting through the beginning scenes, you will notice how minimal everything is in the game: the HUD, UI, crafting, synthesizing, cooking, and more. You’ll also notice there is no skill tree, quest log, or weapons. The minimalist feel for the game was done intentionally to keep the light-heartedness of the game intact.
Surprisingly, the story is much deeper than what is on the outer layer of what is shown initially but is straightforward since there are no side quests. In addition to being straightforward, you are given two choices during the banter for Yu and Kay, and these choices. This, in turn, makes them confident and opens up different dialogue and options in the future.
I mentioned creatures on this uncharted planet, which means battling these creatures. With most, if not all, the creatures on the planet, you fight them to the point you deplete their HP and then pacify them. You cannot kill any creature that’s not supposed to die in Haven. The battle system of Haven is minimalistic and only changes when you can craft and synthesize things. In the beginning, you have a total of eight commands, i.e., the D-pad and your XYBA/ Square, Triangle, Circle, and X buttons. The PlayStation 5 version makes excellent use of the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and triggers vibrations; the trigger buttons have more resistance when you glide over the water, giving the player a tactile reminder’s not ideal for traveling on water. On a keyboard, you have your set keys.
Each of these buttons/keys coincides with actions for either Yu or Kay. You learn that you can have them both attack for a duo attack or defend the other and the other attacks. There are limited combinations, but they are all important to know and use as you encounter different enemies.
Though the Haven is a lighthearted, feel-good game, the story is impactful as you watch Yu and Kay’s relationship bloom and get tested as they explore the mysteries of the planet. There is a lot more to Haven than meets the eye. I highly recommend picking up Haven, exploring the planet, petting the “dog” like a creature of the game, and just enjoying this light-hearted game! Also, Haven can easily be played with a friend via local co-op!
Why not take a break in from being bombarded by heavily detailed HUDs/UIs, needing to be alert at all times, and relax in Haven with Yu and Kay?
Be sure to check out Haven on nearly every platform, as well as checking out the other hit titles from The Game Bakers!
A light-hearted story about a blooming relationship on an unknown planet surrounded by mysteries.