Batora: Lost Haven is a bit of a departure for Stormind Games.
Known for its duo of creepy horror games, Remothered: Tormented Fathers and Remothered: Broken Porcelain, Batora: Lost Haven is a much lighter affair. It’s also an action RPG with a focus on choice. But has the developer’s foray into uncharted territory been a success? Not entirely.
Batora: Lost Haven puts players in control of Avril, a young woman whose life has been rather traumatic. Aside from witnessing the apparent ruin of planet Earth, she’s also lost her sister, and so now spends her days scavenging with her best friend Mila. But an encounter with mysterious entities soon provides her with the power to change everything.
Thrown into an unknown location, Avril quickly has to adapt to her new surroundings. And thanks to her newfound abilities, she’s quickly looked up to by the locals. It transpires that to save Earth she’s going to have to help save the worlds of others first. Without hesitation, she throws herself into the fray.
Initially, Avril’s new powers present themselves as a giant sword she can summon on command. But not long after, she also gains the power to shoot projectiles from her hands. Both abilities can’t be used at the same time, however. You see, both are attached to the powers of the sun and moon, with a button switching between them at will.
It’s not a mechanic that’s particularly new. There are many games that ask you to switch polarity to gain access to new skills or avoid taking a specific type of damage. What’s notable here though, is the two very distinct types of gameplay. With the power of the sun, melee combat is the order of the day. And with the moon, Batora: Lost Haven plays more like a twin-stick shooter.
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To fight effectively, you need to match your affinity with that of your enemies. And in another twist, you have two health bars – one for each type of damage. Should just one of them be depleted, your adventure is over. Suffice to say, there’s a lot to keep track of during combat, especially when you throw in a range of special attacks and more.
It’s just a shame that combat isn’t all that enjoyable in Batora: Lost Haven. Melee combat in particular feels clunky, something that isn’t helped by your limited moveset. You soon fall into the repetitive pattern of just attacking with your basic combo, dodging, then attacking with the same combo again, making use of skills when available to spice things up and gain the upper hand.
A more advanced melee combo is available, as well as a directional attack, but they’re not all that useful. The former in particular is a waste, as while it inflicts more damage, the delayed timing it requires makes it effectively useless unless you’re happy with sustaining damage yourself.
Thankfully ranged combat is more enjoyable, and so are the moments where you get to test your mental skills rather than your combat abilities. Batora: Lost Haven often presents you with puzzles to solve, and while they’re uneven in quality they’re generally fun on the whole. There are the usual conundrums, such as solving riddles to activate various stones, to using your powers to influence the environment, allowing you to progress past obstacles.
Batora: Lost Haven can be enjoyable from time to time, then, but it’s brought down by other things in addition to its clunky melee combat. It’s a short, linear game, with little opportunity or reward to go off the beaten path, for example. And while there are important choices to be made throughout your adventure, which will lead to one of numerous endings, the story isn’t particularly interesting and is filled with irritating characters.
It isn’t a bad game by any means, but Batora: Lost Haven doesn’t excel in any particular area, either. It’s a hodgepodge of tried-and-tested mechanics and ideas put together without any real flair, resulting in a game that can be enjoyable at times, but is often repetitive and dull.