Haven is an extremely cute adventure game, kind of. The game is split between three distinct parts, adventure visual novel, turn based action, and ‘walking sim’ exploration. You play as a couple, a young albino woman named Yu and a young black man named Kay. They’ve run away from their galaxy via a spaceship because they were in love, and their society is run by people who decide everything for them, including marriage material, and seemingly both job and rank placement in society. Both of them were fed up with their lives there and ran away together out of the grasp of their government, who wants them back. They took coordinates of a planet that was long forgotten and went there on manual pilot just to make sure they weren’t caught, even going in unaided by an AI to land. Yu is a mechanic and Kay was an ‘ist’, I don’t remember if it’s a geologist, botanist, or biologist, it’s not super important, that was just to explain how death defying this entire trip of theirs was to get where they were. Now they’re all about exploring this fractured floaty world and trying to find the parts of their ship that broke off thanks to seismic activity causing the landed ship to fall.
During the game you have the visual novel bits every now and then, in it you get to choose responses from one character or the other, some of these lead to the character becoming more confident which raises their relationship level. As their relationship level raises you get benefits to the exploration and combat sequences as well. These parts aren’t too long, but you can run into a handful of them one after another. Most of these sections are inside the ship itself but there’s usually a couple of them outside of it during each major exploration activity. They’re pretty cute sections because each character is again in love and complete opposites which makes their interactions adorable. Yu is a very energetic brash woman, she likes to do whatever she finds fun at the moment whether that means to go out exploring and moving super fast or just lazing about sleeping in the ship’s bed with Kay. She’s all about rushing in and thinking later, though when she starts thinking she also starts to panic. Conversely Kay is an outdoorsy school-body, he’s like a walking encyclopedia and loves to be around nature. He’s calm and collected, maybe even a bit depressive. Yu mentioned wanting to leave the solar system offhandedly and Kay’s immediate reaction was to look into finding a way out, which is super illegal, all because everything Yu says matters to him. Again, they’re so fucking cute, and I’ll be repeating that a few more times probably. This visual novel aspect of the game is about thirty-five percent of the game.
The next part is exploration, which is around fifty percent of the game. This is done purely outside the spaceship, and that should be obvious. In these sequences you do a few things, here you look for food ingredients, which you can make either in the ship or at makeshift camps that you stay out around the exploitable world. Food gives you bonus relationship points, some of them also give them health for when they take damage in combat. The characters do get hungry, and they also get tired so you do need to eat and sleep, but that’s a very light component, it’s not something that people who play survival games will enjoy it’s far too easy for that, so if you’re like me and you HATE survival stuff this isn’t bad this is barely noticeable even because it’s so minor. As you find ways to new land masses you also find animals around giant cute animals, giant geckos, these weird tiny winged giant dog things, weird crab things and more. You can pet them ALL, yes you saw that right, you can pet adorable giant geckos. Yes, I know you’re probably more interested in the dog thing, but fuck you, it’s a GIANT GECKO, one of them actually follows you home as a pet and I LOVE IT, it is so precious and I love it! I’m not weird, you’re weird, go away. Uh… anyways, umm… I, I kinda lost track of my thoughts cause gecko. Oh yes, along with these animals you also find the energy of this world, it’s this weird thing called Flow, it powers your ship and the hover boots you glide around on. However, alongside this Flow, you find something that your characters named rust. This rust seems to be attracted to Flow stacks, and covers it effectively consuming it constantly. After consuming Flow it has started to grow and it’s spread out covering the vegetation around it as well as even the animals making them highly violent. You can clear the rust with, weirdly enough, more Flow just by running over it with your hover boots, there are various nodes where the rust has bunched up over the Flow, if you run over those nodes more of the rust is cleared and if you run over all of the nodes then all of the rust fades around. When I say that the rust disappears when you destroy the nodes, I mean there are sections of rust, it gets rid of all the rust in that section not all of it in that map, there are various sections of rust, each section has a few to a metric fuckton of nodes, destroy all the nodes in that section and it dissipates. You control one character during all of this, you choose which one on the fly because both fly together. And remember when I said they were so fucking cute. if you fly in a straight line without turning very hard, the one you aren’t playing will fly up beside you and both characters will hold hands and it’s so cute, I’m tearing up again. Also, if you stop flying and just stand around, they’ll kiss and hug each other, it’s soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo CUTE!!!!
The last bit is combat, in combat you actively control both characters, there’s four buttons for each character, they act the same way. There’s a ranged energy blast move, a close range melee attack, a defense which defends whoever is attacked next, and a pacify move which is used when enemies are knocked out to make them leave the field. Soon after getting into the game you can do double attacks which is simply where both characters use the same attack, after doing that there is a little mini-game that you have to use or it fails and they have to try again. The combat is both turn based and real time, every action you do has a time limit before your character can actually do the action, same for enemies, which does make it turn based loosely, however you have to actually tell the character to use the action, making it real time. You click a button to tell the game yes I’m doing this action, then it spends time to ready the action, then you have to click the button again to tell the game to actually do the action, so I’m going to shoot this creature, okay timer until you can shoot is done, I shoot. It’s… I don’t know how I feel about it sometimes, it messed me up a lot at first, it still messes me up because you have to click the button twice effectively to do one action and that’s not how other games play, this is so you can change your action if you need to, but you have to go through another set-up timer so it’s not useful to actually switch actions. Overall, I don’t much care for this way of combat honestly. I’d rather it just be turn based or real time based, and only using one button press and just doing it instead of needing to confirm it after saying you’re going to do it. I’ve nearly died a few times thanks to this which is why I don’t like it. Otherwise the combat is pretty easy, double attacks are significantly stronger than two singular attacks which makes it useful to do it constantly as the moment you gain access to it, it triples to nearly quadruples a standard singular attack. Some monsters are weak to ranged attacks some to melee, and some enemies heal others, etc, but it’s all easy. There are some boss fights which are harder but not too hard, they can kill ya though, especially when you first learn about how to use double attacks, because it doesn’t explain it very well. it took me some serious time to figure out how to use it.
I can’t really tell you too much about the story because a lot of the game is just exploration. Yu and Kay are simply going around just living day to day in love with each other, looking for the parts for their ship and finding out about the world that was just barely registered long ago in the terminals. The planet was supposedly never colonized, for some reason, except it clearly was. So your characters are trying to figure out what happened while fixing their ship, after all if an entire colony just vanished and was reported to never have existed, then something could be very wrong, and it could be dangerous for the two love-birds. The music is nice and mellow and I don’t know, pretty. Everything about the game is pretty, the art is gorgeous, both in game and, AND there’s an opening movie when you get to the main menu if you don’t push any buttons, or, I think, when you turn on the game it runs through the opening too. The opening movie looks all hand drawn and sketchy but in color and it’s really pretty, I totally suggest you watch it, it’s stupidly cute too. Then in game everything is nicely colored and just very pretty, it’s really hard to say anything but it’s pretty, I know it makes me sound dumb to say the same thing over and over, but the game is just outright very pretty, that is the proper word for what the graphics in this game are.
Overall I really liked the game, it’s beautiful, fun, and surprisingly simple. It’s just a nice mellow out zen type of game. That’s not to say it has no flaws, it could use some more explanation and tutorials for things you do specifically the double attacks, I almost lost the boss fight where it was introduced because the explanation was… lacking we’ll say. That being said, the character’s love is what really makes this game shine, it’s so beautiful and cute and I love it. It made me cry twice, not tear up, outright cry, within the first like five hours of the game. The first one was when they flew next to each other and started holding hands, and the second one was when they first came into contact with the giant gecko and started petting it, just so fucking cute. The animals make noises okay, they’re cute noises and they’re so cute and they’re just cute, yes I know the look you’re giving me, fuck off. Just because I’m vulgar and butch as shit doesn’t mean I can’t love cute things, fuck off, I’m still a girl damn it.
A review copy of the game was provided by the devs.
darkmikasonfire throws all the awards at The Game Bakers and Haven which also includes the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.