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Haven - Review


Love is a miraculous concept which we human beings embrace. It’s this feeling of wonder, joy, and excitement for when we find THE ONE. The person who we can relate to, rely on, and seek comfort from when we are feeling down. THE ONE is a person we dedicate our time, build our bond with, and propose to when we are finally ready. THE ONE of course being the person we love and hope to spend the rest of our lives with. Love is beautiful. Personally, I don’t really plan on having a romantic relationship anytime soon not because I despise dating, but I just don’t think I’m ready for it yet. Relationships are stressful to maintain and it’s even harder to mend one that is falling apart. Both participants must express what they are doing wrong and promise that they are willing to improve from their flaws. I’m not ready to confront those types of problems yet, so for now I’ll just kick back and enjoy being a single male. Playing games and chugging a fancy drink I like to call, ‘cola.” Okay, that’s neither fancy nor expensive but you get the point. That’s not to say I despise love, because I love witnessing love.


Listening to my friends talk about their partners and how happy they are together. Witnessing a couple go out for lunch and have a fun time. See a wedding happen in the distance and watch as the couple drives off into the distance. Maybe listen to a song about love or look at a piece of art inspired by the feeling of love. It’s lovely to see love play out, and why it’s so important to our very being. Without love we wouldn’t care, and without knowing how to care we would wander aimlessly about and ruin the world just for the spite of it. Love is important, and I’m glad we all know how to love. With the cheesy introduction sequence out of the way, let’s talk about today’s subject matter. Haven, a laid-back indie RPG about a couple learning how to care for one another in an alien world. Developed by The Game Bakers, and for those of you who don’t know they’re the creators of Furi. I absolutely love Furi and it’s one of the earlier indie games I reviewed on this website. An intense bullet hell action game with well-designed combat, a killer soundtrack, great art direction, memorable boss fights, intriguing presentation, and consistent pacing so that it wouldn’t lag on too long. Furi is an underrated masterpiece and a warm for what the team at The Game Bakers could handle. When I got word of Haven both excitement and concern flowed through my veins. Another project being made by The Game Bakers, but the tone was different.


Instead of letting us feel like a badass once again or maybe even follow up the events of their last project, The Game Bakers were making something with more chill vibes. A game that focused less on action and more on the subject matter at hand. I was still down for Haven, but I kept my eyes open as it felt like a step back from what they made before. Haven comes out during late 2020 and my expectations were pretty high. A little too high in fact as I ended up dropping the game in less than an hour. Haven did not click with me, and I was not feeling the vibes the game was trying to offer. It was the fastest I ever abandoned an indie game, and it was quite a shame because I could tell there was a specialty lying beneath. If only I had spent more time with the game and discovered what that specialty was. Two years have passed since Haven was released, and I decided to step back in an attempt to get into it. See why it didn’t click the first time and if it would now. I played it on a PlayStation 5 and noticed around sixty seven percent of players got through one of the intro sequences and eight percent of players have beaten the game. Which is concerning as Haven isn’t a really hard game or a long one. A majority of those players probably faced the same problems as me and didn’t vibe with what the game offered. Dropping Haven halfway through didn’t seem all that surprising to me, but then I did beat it. I had beaten Haven and can safely confirm that it’s pretty alright. The game is good and it’s worth sticking around for, but there are a lot of rough edges that makes it easy to understand why a majority of players won’t like it. However, this time I found that very specialty I didn’t notice the first time around and it’s probably the reason why I kept playing a game that was alright overall. Today we’ll be talking about why I quite liked Haven and why it deserves your attention.


Story

We follow two young adults, Yu and Kay, who were former members of a human society known as the Apiary. Mankind has advanced and discovered the technology to travel across the stars easily, but that’s pretty much expected from any sci-fi piece of media that comes out these days. They’ve colonized other planets and begun harvesting the resources lying within them, so that they may be used to provide for mankind. The Apiary had established world peace, but new rules were invented to create balance and equality. Yu and Kay were two individuals who didn’t agree with the laws of the Apiary, and stole a shuttle to escape their clutches. They landed on an alien world flowing with a mystical life energy, and since it hasn’t been discovered or colonized by the Apiary they decided to make it their new home. The life energy, Flow, is used to power their home and technology and they decide to dub the alien planet “Source” since the energy they use comes from said planet. All is well for them as they breathe in the cool air, glide around blue grassy fields, and appreciate the wildlife from afar. Just one happy couple trying to make the most out of their newfound lives. That is until one fine day when a terrible accident occurred.


A massive earthquake shook the ground violently and the shuttle Yu and Kay live in, which was perched atop a high cliff, came crashing towards the ground. Yu and Kay managed to avoid getting hurt, but the shuttle got damaged during the earthquake. With multiple components missing and the ability to pilot the shuttle lost. Yu and Kay panic, but upon gliding around they discover the ruins of what appears to be an abandoned colony. Structures and machinery similar to that of Apiary technology, which means they did attempt to colonize Source at some point but abandoned it. Since there’s so much technology lying around it means Yu and Kay can scavenge for replacement parts to repair the shuttle. Together they’ll explore unknown isles, encounter new creatures, uncover more secrets about Source, and why the two lovers decided to run away from their accursed society together. All the while trying to provide for each other, help out during stressful moments, and maintain a healthy relationship.


Gameplay

Haven is a light RPG where you explore isles, gather crafting resources, fight enemies, manage a few minor systems, and pursue whatever goal is set before you. Exploration is rather as you glide around isles and explore your surroundings. Some isles and areas may not be accessible until you progress further into the game and unlock new gear. For example, you can’t fly in the air unless you have these rocket boot upgrades and there are pathways that can’t be opened unless you obtain Flow Burst. Speaking of Flow, this is a vital resource you need to collect in order to keep gliding around. There’s a pulsing icon on the top left side of the screen, and that represents how much Flow Energy you have left. Blue and violet means you are packed full of energy, but once it starts to turn red and violet it means you are close to running out. Flow isn’t that hard to get though as Flow Strings are scattered across every area in the game. Glide along with the string and you will absorb the Flow Energy. You get quite a lot of energy from Flow Strings, so you have to go through the tedium of following Flow Strings every few seconds. Isles are connected to each other and occasionally you’ll open up pathways that lead back to isles you’ve already been to. Which cuts down backtracking, but you do unlock the ability to fast travel later on at the cost of fast travel spots being at certain spots in the world and requiring resources to use.


Every isle has resources to collect, and these resources come in the form of food items. They can be taken back to shelter to cook and combining different food items together will form different meals. Some restore more health depending on how rare and powerful the crafting materials are. Another resource is Rust, which can be used to craft pills to grant buffs and immunities during combat. Rust can be obtained by clearing isles of these decaying pink crystals dotted about. If you clear bigger spots of Rust you obtain rarer variants of it, and when an isle is completely cleared of Rust you’ll no longer obtain Rust from it and an icon on the map representing the isle will no longer be labeled pink. Clearing isles of Rust can be fun as Rust is secretly an altered form of Flow and it can restore your Flow Energy. It’s also crucial if you want convenient fast travel spots as you can’t fast travel to selected isles unless you clear them out. Eventually you’ll stumble into combat as critters wandering the environment will be corrupted by Rust. Haven uses turn based combat, but at the same time it manages to mix in real time elements. You have to charge your actions before you can perform them, and you have to go through the animation of performing an action before you can do another one. You need to guard whenever an enemy is about to attack, and certain attacks won’t work against certain foes. When a foe is down you’ll have to pacify them and if you don’t do it in time then they’ll revive themselves with a small amount of health. We’ll talk more later at the end.


If one of the two lovers falls during combat then the other one can attempt to bring them back up, but if both of them fall then they’ll be kicked back home with a low amount of health. This is a good time to heal up using whatever meds you crafted and get back into the field. I might as well talk about the home element as it’s one of the crucial parts of this game. The Nest is a relaxing place to retreat to. You can rest up, eat a good meal, watch the two protagonists chat between each other, and craft items. You can cook at camps found throughout the world, but better meals can’t be cooked unless you have the proper kitchen utensils. You can only concoct meds at home and there’s a variety of other stations to be found around The Nest. There’s a garden outside and by picking up randomly dropped seeds you can plant resources by your home so that you have a safe and convenient place to harvest them. Later on you unlock the Applebrew Machine, and this is basically your form of leveling up. Upon surviving combat, eating certain meals, or saying the right things during conversation our two lovers will have their bond level increased. If the bond level is increased enough then the Applebrew Machine will ready itself for another drink. This will initiate a dialogue conversation and a maximum increase to a few stats. Health is increased with each Applebrew session, but other upgrades will vary. Maximum attack power, speed of attacks, how quickly you get around the world, and much more. You can even occasionally find items scattered around the world which can be taken back to The Nest to further decorate the place and make it feel livelier. The Nest is your safe haven, and by God you are going to make a heaven worth living in. That’s all I have to say about the gameplay. Hopefully you can repair The Nest, and glide across the skies.


Thoughts


Haven doesn’t handle a lot of things right and in a couple areas it does them really poorly, but it does everything well enough to keep me intrigued. The combat has good intentions and could have worked if it weren’t for a few flaws. Enemies make it clear when they are about to attack, and you have to prepare for when they do so. However, you can’t just guard all the time as your defenses have a cooldown time and you need to find time to attack. You can’t just attack all the time as it’s sloppy play and it’ll leave you exposed, and you can’t just use the same attack type as certain enemies are immune to it. For some reason it reminded me of the turn-based Mario RPGs where certain attacks work better against certain foes. I think the pacifier system is a nice system as it means one of the two lovers has to take time to eliminate a foe from the field before they get back up and create more trouble. Everything was there for it to work, and then it didn’t. I dislike how actions must be prepared ahead of time. You must hold down the controller button and then release when it’s ready. This can lead to actions happening at a delayed time or being unable to get it ready just when an enemy is about to hit. Why couldn’t they just make it so that once you press the button it happens right away. The game doesn’t allow you to select what enemy to attack nor does it let you know which one you are targeting. There’s an option that allows you to know what you are targeting, but they still aren’t giving you any choice. Certain enemy types get annoying to deal with and the more combat encounters I got tossed into the more I disliked the combat of Haven. Good intentions are spoiled by design decisions.


This is my recurring problem with Haven. Everything seemed to work, but there was always a flaw holding it back. You need to sacrifice a meal in order to travel fast, but you can cook a meal using cheap, easy to find resources and it works every single time. You think the more powerful crafting resources are hard to come by, but later you unlock isles that dispense mass amounts of them, and they stop being a rarity. You also obtain so much Rust to a point where you never have to worry about running out and can forge a bunch of pills that make combat trivial. Exploration is strong at first, but eventually the map will transform into this barrage of icons where everything loops back into each other. Sleeping has no cooldown meaning you can probably just sleep over and over to restore yourself to max health instead of eating meals. Nothing in this game is perfect, but at the same time it’s not terrible. It’s walking a fine line between amazing and awful, and any game that manages to do that is impressive to me. How it’s able to survive despite dangling above a perilous fall. The story in Haven is alright. It too has good intentions and there are a couple plot twists that make it interesting, but I wouldn’t particularly say it’s a heartfelt story that’ll pull your heartstrings. Yu and Kay are a likable couple, and you want them to have a healthy relationship. Hence why you are running around doing these things and picking the best options for them. This is one of few saving things that prevents Haven from getting a thumbs down from me. However, the dialogue between the two can get annoying at times. They always have to complement each other doing anything and the only conversations I liked are the ones the writers carefully wrote and never repeat. Still, the dialogue is cliche romance and I can see a lot of players getting turned down from this. The only other compliments I can give this game is that the music is chill, I like the color palette, gliding can be relaxing at times, and the art direction is splendid. I actually follow one of the key artists for this game, Koyorin, and their work is absolutely stunning so check them out!


I should really not be recommending Haven, but I do. Haven is worth checking out, because it must have been doing something right for me to reach the end credits. What Haven does well is teach the player that maintaining a healthy relationship takes effort. You need to understand and communicate with your loved one otherwise you are going to hurt your relationship. Spend time with them, do things you like, comfort them during hardships, and improve yourself when they start to complain about you. Tell them what they can improve in and slowly you two start to get along. Haven is not the intensity Furi offered and that’s okay. It’s more focused on being chill, relaxing, and letting the player just soak in what is on offer. The story is not great, but it talks about going against standards and following your heart. Showing what true love is and that it can’t just be forced or fabricated. I’m glad I stuck around for Haven and even though there are a lot of problems progressing through the game is satisfying and reaching the goal of fully fixing your ship is fun. I give Haven an 8/10 for being pretty good.


8/10, Pretty Good

This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!

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