After the splendid success of FURI, The Game Bakers return with a brand new title. Haven, however, doesn’t have much in common with the previous title, aside from the open world component. This is all about two lovers, Kay and Yu, who are fleeing from everything they knew. The lovers managed to land with their spaceship on a forgotten planet. This is a strange world imbued with an energy that rules everything. Through the course of the adventure, you will explore the details of the story, the relationship between the characters, and the entire narrative context of the game. Here is my Haven review on Xbox One.
THE POWER OF LOVE
As mentioned above, Haven is all about the love story of Yu and Kay. They are two inhabitants of a controlling space colony where humanity has taken refuge. On this colony reigns matchmaker. This is a mysterious entity which takes care of coupling together people. It chooses couples based on their commonalities. Yu and Kay, against every rule imposed by the Matchmaker, can’t bear the idea of having to give up their love.
Therefore, they choose to escape aboard a spaceship. Eventually, they are forced to land on a very small planet named ‘Source’. Take note that The Game Bakers deepen many other details regarding the narrative context of the title and the relationship between the two protagonists during the game. This narrative component, however, is a bit of a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, the story is enriched and framed by many interesting details. These details are about the universe, its factions, intergalactic plots, and the Council. One the other hand, however, the superficiality of these elements makes the adventure a bit confusing, forced, and excessive. All this information is in fact useless for the primary purposes of the experience. To be honest, this is a forbidden love story that lacks originality and freshness.
EXPLORING THE WORLD
Haven’s gameplay is made up of some distinct and recognizable phases. The “temporal” management of the game is managed through the phases inside the spaceship. During this part of the game, the relationship between the two protagonists gets deeper and more emotional. You can move on to the next day to proceed with the narration. Outside the spaceship, it is possible to explore the game world.
The Game Bakers scattered all kinds of resources across the world, ready to be collected. The planet, however, has been corrupted by a sort of plague that makes creatures hostile and evil. Your aim is to defeat and purify these creatures from time to time. The movement system of the game is characterized by the glide. This is the possibility of “skating” with a mechanic called high-speed glide to move more quickly in the game world.
This component works very well and makes the movement faster and less frustrating. There is, however, one thing that makes me turn up my nose when it comes to the exploration component. In Haven, there is really too much fighting going on. I know this might sound weird, but the exploration is interrupted far too frequently. The creatures in the game never hesitate to engage in combat, even if you are as quiet as a mouse. They will come for you!
CIRCLE OF EVENTS
The spaceship of Yu and Kay is the major breakpoint of the story, but at the same time the one that deepens it. I consider Haven as a very permissive survival game. Here you will notice that the mechanics of hunger, fatigue, and health have been introduced as “deus ex machina” to force you to return regularly to the base.
At base, you can create the most basic items for resource exploration, as well as food and healing. This loop of resource gathering, exploration, and returning to base, however, turns out to be monotonous and redundant after a while. In fact, it is not possible, in Haven, to break these circle of events. Take note that the only exception is the possibility of staying and sleeping outside.
However, this is always bound to specific and protected areas in the world. While this loop is likely to get boring soon, it gives players the freedom to explore the game world without the pressure of completing a quest or continuing the game. Haven, in fact, is never frustrating or prohibitive, making it an extremely accessible game for all players.
CELL SHADING AT ITS PEAK
Technically and artistically speaking, Haven is really a very good-looking game. The world is colorful, littered with plants and animals of all kinds and races, and the graphic style is really spot on. I feel like saying that I haven’t seen such a well-optimized cell shading game in a long time.
The game runs flawlessly on Xbox One, with no frame drops or instability of any kind. The management of the camera is also excellent in the phases in which the glide is used to move. The combat phases are satisfying and the visual effects are beautiful to see.
Everything is framed by an excellent soundtrack, which at times recalls similar games such as Gravity Rush or FURI itself. The opening theme, which can be heard in a loop before the main menu, highlights all the influences of Japanese animation behind the Haven concept.
The relationship between Yu and Kay, that is deepened in every facet makes them extremely characterized. The only discordant note that could make some people turn up their noses is precisely the “heart” component. The love between the two protagonists probably should have had less centrality within the game, despite being the heart of the game.
Some sessions may be boring or overly honeyed, with no actual plot purpose. From the gameplay point of view, there are some excellent insights, which despite not having been exploited as they deserved are really satisfying. The technical and artistic department, instead, deserves all of my compliments. Haven is a good game with a modest price!
Do you want to try The Game Bakers’ Haven? What do you think of my Haven review on Xbox One? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more games? Check out our reviews for DOOM Eternal, Super Meat Boy Forever, Gears 5: Hivebusters, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Godfall, Fallout 76 Steel Dawn, and Empire of Sin.
A major flaw would be in the narrative. The story is about the love between two young people, without daring in some way. The experience is also flattened by a contour of confused and in-depth details. However, Haven is a good game, which despite its flaws and superficiality entertains without too many pretensions.
- Interesting gameplay ideas
- Simple and lighthearted open world RPG
- Technically and artistically excellent
- Too many unnecessary details
- A love story seen and reviewed
- Monotonous and repetitive rhythm
- At times excessively honeyed