Throughout our time absorbing the content that comes through the medium of gaming year on year, we have been told many stories. We have had tales of tragedy, heartbreak, loss. Then equally, we have had tales filled with elation, unbridaled joy and friendship. However, it is rare to see a game that focuses on the love of an established couple and runs with that idea with no outside agenda.
So when we encountered Haven, a sci-fi co-op adventure that advertises its most vital asset to be it’s narrative. We were slightly taken aback by the approach of the developers. However, we soon found that this approach had the legs to run, offering one of the most intriguing and unique indies that the PS5 has to offer at time of writing. Here is our review of Haven.
Just The Two Of Us
Let’s begin with the core concept. This game has you take control of Kay and Yu, two lovers who have ran away together only to find themselves stranded on a derelict planet called Source. So your main goal in this game is to survive, explore what this planet has to offer and ultimately, find a way to leave in one piece. This is the end goal of the story but the real meat of the narrative lays in the conversations you’ll encounter between the two star-crossed lovers.
Their relationship is genuine and heartwarming, if a little cheesy at times. So it’s easy to relate to these characters and create a bond with them. Admittedly, the hot and heavy romantic scenes can be a bit too much for some, even though they aren’t explicitly sexual, so fair warning. However, if you can get past this aspect, there is plenty of wonderful moments and brilliant writing to drink in throughout this adventure.
A Dynamic Duo
So let’s talk about the gameplay aspects of this game. When you aren’t taking in the aspects that are more akin to a visual novel, you’ll be tasked with exploring Source. To get around, you’ll have a glide ability that allows you to zip around the place, drift for easy cornering and do swift U-turns to backtrack. For the most part, this is a fun and stress-free way to navigate the worlds. The majority of the spaces are open and rather empty, so we appreciated being able to move at speed with little issue.
However, we will admit that the movement is far from flawless. Especially when having to traverse hills and mountains. You’ll have to find dedicated paths to proceed and thanks to the lack of direction or a map provided by the game, this can lead to a lot of aimless wondering which gets frustrating after a while. Especially due to the fact that the more interesting aspects of this game are in the interim between gameplay segments.
We also have to be critical of the combat sequences within the game. To explain them as simply as we can, they play out similarly to a rhythm game with RTS aspects thrown-in for good measure. Conceptually, we get that this is to show the symbiosis between the two core characters and have you harness the power of love if you want to be that corny about it. However, in practice, the mechanics feel awkward, alienating and they aren’t explained all that well either. We admit that when you do come to terms with it, there is a sense of accomplishment to be had when you land a well-timed duo attack. Though, we can’t help but feel there was a better way to present this.
Avant Garde Sci-Fi
Then lastly, we turn our attention to the visual and sound quality for Haven. In terms of the visual quality and the art style, it flirts with the idea of being special. The pastel colours, sharp textures and animations all help to fight it’s case. However, ultimately it feels a little underwhelming. The environments went for “a less is more” vibe and in truth, less is actually less in this case. Plus, the areas that have more substance such as the interiors or the visual novel scenes just seem pulled from a generic anime. The writing helps to carry this but the art style offers little support.
While on the other hand, the soundtrack for this game is phenomenal. The electronic riffs and melodies offer a pleasant backing track for traversing the open planes of Source. Plus, when the intensity picks up, the score does its part to raise the stakes too. It’s not a world beater of a soundtrack by any means but we would say that its far more than your typical mass produced indie musical score.
If we were scoring this game based on the concept and the ideas present throughout, it would have been scored much higher. However, it’s when you take the sum of all its parts into account that it all begins to fall apart. We commend the developer ‘The Game Bakers’ for offering players a wonderful story. We also commend them on swinging big on some aspects of the game such as the combat, the soundtrack and the art style.
However, what we cannot praise is the overall execution of Haven. The barren environments, the lack of player support and guidance throughout and the generally lacklustre gameplay all leave a lot to be desired. It’s a shame because underneath the layers of mediocrity, there are clear signs of a fantastic and memorable indie title trying to break out. Sadly though, it seems this one will be soon forgotten as the next gen library expands.
So that’s our review of Haven on the PS5. Did you pick this one up on launch? What did you think of this one? Do you think that the more unique aspects of this game make it a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library? Let us know in the comments section below. Plus, if you want more reviews then check out our re-review of FIFA 21 on next gen. Or alternatively, you may like our review of Overcooked: All You Can Eat.
Summary: Haven is a third-person role-playing game with survival game elements. The game is about two lovers, Yu and Kay, who escape to an uninhabited lost planet called Source. The player can control either character, or play in co-op multiplayer with another person, as they search for materials and resources for the Nest, their spaceship.
Platforms: PC, PS5 (Review Version), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Switch, PS4 (Q1 2021)
Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
Initial release date: December 3, 2020