True love is a complicated emotion.
It isn’t just about romance or how you feel when you’re together. It’s about compromise, understanding and trust. Are you willing to completely throw your old life away to create a new one with the person you love? To protect them? In Haven from The Game Bakers, main characters Yu and Kay have left their old lives behind to escape with one another. It’s up to you to decide whether or not their choice was the right one to make. Are they really meant to be, or did they take a leap of fate in the wrong direction?
Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than just that. It’s difficult to piece together everything going on in Haven when you first start the game. Clearly Yu and Kay are in love. That much is obvious. But when they start to mention Source, The Matchmaker, and other strange terms, it becomes clear that things aren’t exactly as they seem. Without spoiling a good chunk of the story, the main concept of the game is that this couple has escaped a planet that wanted to keep them apart and force them to live a certain way. They put together a ship and decided to run, leaving behind their friends, family and entire lives.
That’s quite a commitment if you ask me, but it isn’t hard to love the protagonists’ relationship from the get-go. Both Yu and Kay ooze charm and you’ll fall just as much in love with them as they are with each other. Yu isn’t shy about how she feels and she voices it. Kay is a bit more soft spoken, but when he starts talking about his hobbies you can hardly get him to stop. They both have their own quirks, but are incredibly well-written and brilliantly voice acted.
When it comes to Haven‘s gameplay, players will fall in love with that too. Yu and Kay land on an unknown planet. After an unfortunate incident where their ship is damaged, the two must explore the surrounding area and attempt to find parts to fix The Nest, their name for their ship. This new land is essentially a group of small islands that are interconnected by bridges. Each island is unique and contains different flora, fauna, and minerals for the players to collect or interact with. Most prominently, the islands contain “rust” which players can collect to help upgrade their ship. The problem is that the rust seems to be toxic to the land and the animals. And that’s where combat comes in.
The infected animals are very hostile and will attack you if you interact with them. Thankfully, combat is very easy to pick up. There are four different things that Yu and Kay can do during a fight; they each have two different attacks as well as a shield and the ability to pacify a creature. If Yu decides to shield during her turn and a creature goes to attack, she will shield Kay and vice versa. Certain creatures are weak to a particular ability so it’s important to pay attention to what kind of attack does the most damage. Finally, once you’ve downed a creature you can pacify them to complete the battle.
As you venture around the world, you’ll also uncover ingredients which Kay can make into capsules. You can use these capsules during a battle to heal your characters or power them up to make their attacks hit even harder. Capsules can mean the difference between defeating a creature and being defeated yourself. Thankfully, resources aren’t too hard to find and you won’t often find yourself without what you need.
Exploration and combat aren’t the only two things you’ll be doing in Haven. Yu and Kay also have a lot of meaningful conversations with one another. It’s clear that the game creators wanted players to really feel connected to these two characters and their love story. During these conversations you’ll be able to make some dialogue choices that may not change the overall ending of the game, but they do affect how the other character reacts in response. Play the game twice, choose different options, and you’ll get some new dialogue.
Possibly the best part about Haven is how the characters traverse the world. They’re both equipped with a set of hover boots, allowing them to glide quickly around. You can accelerate, U-turn and drift to make traversal easier and faster. After Yu tinkers with them a bit you’ll also be able to hover in the air when following flow streams. The characters are able to walk, but you won’t likely use this very often because it is painfully slow in comparison to the boots.
Something very unique to Haven is that it has little to no HUD clogging up your screen. Many titles have a health bar or a hunger bar hanging out in the corners of the player’s screen. Haven doesn’t have any of those things. It’s clear that the creators wanted Haven to feel immersive; less like a video game and more like a controllable story. The only element you’ll see is a small circle that shows how much “flow” Yu and Kay have collected – a material that machines run on in this world. While I appreciate what the developers were trying to achieve, it can be frustrating not to have useful information easily in view. There were a couple times that I would leave The Nest only to have the characters complain about being hungry not long after. If I had some kind of indication, other than verbal reminders, that they needed to eat, I wouldn’t have ventured out before feeding them. I soon got into the habit of eating any time I was about to exit The Nest, just in case, which felt like a waste of food.
Early on in Haven, having to go back to The Nest to eat is annoying, but before long you’ll find resting areas strewn around the islands. These rest spots allow you to recuperate and eat without having to go all the way back to the ship. Resting and eating also gains your characters back some health if you’ve had some difficult battles. Again though, there’s nothing to indicate what the character’s health is other than the colour of their boots, which go from blue to yellow to red depending on their health .
While Haven is perfect as a single-player game, with players simultaneously controlling Yu and Kay, you also have the option to play in co-op. If you decide that you no longer want to take on enemies by yourself, a friend can jump in and take control of either character at any time. They’ll be able to control them in the open world and during combat sequences. Multiplayer for the game works seamlessly, but I still preferred playing it by myself as it allowed be to enjoy the world at my own pace.
Haven is a unique title; more than likely, you’ll never have played anything quite like it. Exploring the world is lovely and relaxing, though making progress can feel frustratingly slow in the game’s early hours. Once the story really gets started though, it’s impossible to walk away. Players will love getting to know Yu and Kay and slowly uncovering the story of how they ended up together in their dangerous predicament. Haven is slow-paced, but it’s beautiful and captivating. If you want something to enjoy while tucked under a warm blanket, this might just be the comfort you need.