26 September 2023

Indie Corner Games

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Haven review

Haven is a title that addresses a love story on a seemingly deserted planet, which mixes elements of various genres. It presents RPG mechanics, with aspects of metroidvania, going through real-time turn based combat and a dash of visual novel.

The “The Game Bakers” studio has already accustomed us to titles that stand out for their strangeness of appearance and that present good mechanics. Well, Haven is no exception to this rule, but addresses a topic that is very rare to see in video games, love. And it is this angle of the story that sets Haven apart from everyone else.

The story is passed between two protagonists, Yu and Kay, fed up with a life full of routines, they decided to run away from a society that does not approve their relationship. So they try to build a life on a strange planet, with the name Source, full of small archipelagos and apparently uninhabited.

Unfortunately an earthquake catches them off guard and their spaceship crashed down the canyon below. Without another option, the main objective of this couple is to recover the previous shape of their ship since they were unable to fly again. This earthquake also opened a kind of bridge between archipelagos that allows the exploration of 42 different points on the map.

Between the exploration of the map and the whole romance, the previous life of both enters in the equation, since Yu’s mother finds it through a signal emitted by a transmitter that they thought was disabled. However, Haven is mainly about survival in their new life, which consists mainly of harvesting alien plants for their meals, exploring all corners of these archipelagos, while gliding through the air with their special boots and trying to free areas contaminated with a kind of crystals that also plagues the fauna. It is interesting that this aspect brought me several memories of “Horizon Zero Dawn” and its corrupted areas.

Unlike most titles of this genre, Haven offers a simplified RPG experience, free from any record of missions and skill trees. All your progress is made as the story is unwrapped and the relationship between characters is built. Although many of these progressions are made … in bed.

It is an interesting pattern for titles with this profile, but it can raise some disinterest because it contains many lines of text with little interest. All lines of text have voice acting, but many times I ended up pressing the fast forward button because I really wanted to move on to the action. This fast forward button can also be pressed during combat, although without much strategy involved, it is an interesting aspect for the most impatient.

Although very light, Haven also has some survival mechanics. As you explore all the Source archipelagos, some ingredients are presented that can somehow mix with each other, to produce meals that can help to recover some of the characters’ statistics, such as making the couple more efficient in combat.

Speaking of combat, all the combat mechanics in Haven are a little strange and implemented to be played with a partner. Still, playing alone won’t be difficult either, since the controls are quite simple. As I mentioned earlier, combat is a mixture of turn-based combat and rhythm, as each character can deliver a blow alone, or make a stronger attack using the help of their partner. It is necessary to monitor the actions of the opponents and react according to their attacks.

This whole adventure was played with a command and during the combat each joystick is assigned to one of the characters. The left joystick is assigned to the character shown on the left side of the screen, while the right is assigned to the character on the right. The player has at his disposal two attack skills, one of impact that delivers a melee attack, and a ranged ability. In this aspect the opponent will have a resistance to one of the attacks, so it is necessary to understand which attack is most suitable for each type of enemy. There is only one defensive ability which in this case is a shield. Finally, the ability to “Pacify”, which allows to cure the animal that its in “rage” form.

Fights don’t present a great depth. Still, as the story progresses, some enemies require some strategy to overcome.

Although Haven is somewhat monotonous and repetitive, its soundtrack full of catchy beats and melodies really manages to pull on the player. The portrait of an adult relationship is something to be admired. Now it remains for the player to see if he is interested in a somewhat moving love story.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game for Steam, provided by The Game Backers.]