Review – Haven
When Furi first launched back in 2016 I was blown away by its high-octane, synthwave-infused, boss rush gameplay loop that was equal parts challenging as it was epic. After a long wait, their developer’s latest project is pretty much the exact opposite. Haven is more of a slow-burn RPG and I’m really happy with the results.
Yu and Kay are lovers who were to be separated. They head to Source to create a new life for themselves and escape the harsh Apiary. After landing on the planet of Source, things go horribly wrong as an earthquake destroys their ship, leaving them stranded. The pair must venture out onto source to gather resources for food and medical supplies as well as find a way to repair their ship.
Much of the time in Haven is spent exploring the world of Source as Yu and Kay use their anti-gravity boots to get around. Floating around the world is a lot of fun, with tight controls. It’s a very relaxing experience. You will quickly come across Flow Trails that will take you around the islets. These trails will also allow you build up flow and help you clear Rust that has taken over Source, as well as take you on paths you may never have seen on your first run through an area. The anti-gravity boots are so much fun that I never wanted to move onto the next area until the current islet was cleared of Rust.
Every now and then you will encounter a creature covered in Rust and these are hostile. Initially combat is basic; you hold the analogue stick for each of the games hero’s to charge up an attack and then release it. It can be a confusing battle system especially to begin with. I was wondering if that was all it has to offer, but as you progress some more options open up. Combo attacks, delayed attacks, shielding, and more all add some more layers to the combat. Each enemy has a unique way to defeat them from simple attacks, to combo attacks and even delayed attacks. It’s a lot of fun and doesn’t get overly challenging.
However, it doesn’t quite hit the full potential of the combat and I was hoping there would still be more to it. What bothers me the most is with the size of many of the zones. They are just too small, meaning you will be going through multiple loading screens just to get where you were going. It would be more impactful if some zones were combined for a bigger world. Then you’ve got the lack of interiors and environmental variety. With the exception of your ship, there’s not much else.
Anytime Yu and Kay go inside a long lost structure, the camera will stay outside with dialogue playing. Haven just feels too limited in scope and can’t hit it’s full potential. Haven does however have a unique trick, couch co-op. In 2020 we actually have a couch co-op designed game (though Steam can bypass this) where each player can control one person with a shared camera.
Haven is simply at its very best when you are exploring the characters of Yu and Kay. What motivates them, the ups and downs of their relationship, that is at the very core of the story. Every activity builds up their relation from cooking, to exploring the world, and even combat giving Haven a unique tone. There’s a ton of downtime in Haven that is spent to build up their relationship.
Often times the dialogue may get a bit cringey, but it adds to the overall charm of the game and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s all well voice acted with two leads that are just lovable. Bringing charming and sometimes hilarious dialogue whilst also adding to some more emotional moments in the story. However, I am not a fan of the pseudo-censoring of swear words and this game does it a lot with eye-rolling effects.
As for the soundtrack, Danger returns after his fantastic work on Furi, giving us high action synthwave that really pushed the action along perfectly. I’ve always liked Danger’s work and it doesn’t disappoint here. Often I would find myself simply floating around the world just to listen and enjoy the soundtrack. Once again, Danger has found himself a place on my Spotify playlists.
Visually, Haven is quite simple, going for a somewhat cel-shaded look. Most of the time it does look stunning. I never got bored of exploring source partially due to the stunning visual style. However, a lack of varied animations and environments can bring it down a touch.
Haven won’t be for everyone, but I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing experience with some charming characters. The amazing soundtrack is the icing on the cake. I was not expecting this kind of release coming from the developer of the high-octane Furi, but I’m glad that we got it nevertheless.
Visually stunning with great use of colour, but lacking in animations and variety.
Floating around Source is a lot of fun, but it’s hampered by Haven‘s overall limited size and scope.
Danger returns to deliver a stunning synthwave soundtrack that complements the game’s visual design really well. To top things off, all the voice actors deliver a great job.
Haven won’t be for everyone. It also has its fair share of technical and design issues. Still, it’s a very unique experience I ended up enjoying a lot.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Haven is available now on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Played on PC with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM.
A copy of Haven was provided by the publisher.