What is the recipe for a video game? This is probably one of the most subjective matters in all of the industry, as different genres exist because of one single reason: tastes. All this allusion to cooking may be spontaneous or may also be because this game’s developers are called The Game Bakers. Regardless of why, we can talk of what the game consists of: sugar.
Haven is an incredibly sweet game, like literally it’s incredibly sweet. To put it briefly, imagine putting a chunk of No Man’s Sky’s planetary exploration in a bowl, and mix it with a cubic tonne of sugar. To give some context, Haven is a game where the two protagonists, Yu and Kay, are fugitives who left their home planet in search of some freedom. This escape is namely due to the Matchmaker, who just like ancient civilisation, used to decide who could be your partner. Not wanting to be subject to that law, the couple flees with Yu’s ship, The Nest, without any particular destination.
In Haven, you will find yourself exploring the plenty of Islets which are located around you. Players can control either Yu or Kay, but wherever one goes, the other will follow, making for sweet interactions throughout the whole game. Haven can be also played in co-op mode, so two players can each take up one of the protagonists; its a great game for couples since the titular characters are very much in love with each other too.
Exploring the small islets can be a tad confusing at first without a map, but this problem is easily solved after a couple of hours as you will find a radar which will make moving from an islet to another much less daunting. Navigating through the different pieces of land and procuring the main parts to fix The Nest is the main objective of the game, but there’s so much to get lost in, you’ll end up roaming endlessly, cleansing each little bit from rust. Rust is an element that has covered the whole landscape, but by simply hovering over it when you have flow, it will dissipate. Flow is a sort of energy which Yu and Kay can use to roam around with speed, and can be built simply by following flow trails, of which there are loads spread around each islet.
The Nest is your spaceship but also your home, and you will be spending quite a lot of time inside. There’s so much to do though that you will be spoilt for choice. The food picked up from outside can be cooked or transformed into medicine in the kitchen, and can be either consumed immediately or saved for later. The game will feature a hunger bar, so you would do good to keep a backup supply of food to eat. Unfortunately, you cannot eat anywhere you’d like, but only at home or at campsites, which luckily there are a few of on Source.
You can also chat on the sofa, and the arguments which Kay and Yu bring out are always interesting so chatting frequently will not feel repetitive. This will also bring out the two’s personality, showing how deep and fleshed out both characters are, making character development a strong theme in Haven as well.
Apart from the basic shower and sleep function, which may trigger a random cutscene with a cute exchange between the couple, players can also have some interactions with objects and items found while exploring, like some toys or books which you may stumble upon while navigating the multitude of islets upon Source. Healing is also available while inside the Nest, but against consumables which you can craft.
The interactions and storyline will slowly build up a meter, and when full, you will be able to trigger the “celebrate” cutscenes in the Kitchen. Basically, the meter can be described as chemistry between the couple, and each chatting line or combat victory will aid its progress. Once full, the cutscene will generally revolve around the couple drinking a form of fermented appledew, which can be basically considered the only alcohol available for the two. This will then continue into a romantic cutscene, sometimes even spicy, between the two, and will continue to show the dynamic which Yu and Kay have in the game.
As mentioned above, the game will feature combat. Combat in Haven is made up of four elements – Shield, Impact, Blast and Pacify. The Impact and Blast are attacks which can be also used in duo mode – charging up the attack for both characters will result in one attack but more powerful than a standard one. Shield will make your character defend and will significantly reduce any damage received from the next attack. What makes Shield very viable is that your character will defend your partner if they are the target of the next attack. Pacify can only be used once an enemy’s health bar is depleted, and will restore the beast to its natural state, before being affected by the rust and making it aggressive.
Apart from how well the game plays, the music throughout is gorgeous. The album compiled by Danger, a french producer who also produced the music for hit title Furi, complements the game very well, giving a boost of emotion to the adventure unfolding. The music is very easy flowing during pretty much all of the game, but it is also quite great by itself. In fact I have been listening to the music quite a lot outside of the game as well; it is an amazing album and one which I recommend listening to even if you’re not interested in getting Haven – although you should.
The game is incredibly fun, but the main highlight of Haven is The Game Bakers’ success at creating the closest to life couple I have ever experienced in video games. Yu and Kay are not mere gaming protagonists but are also a loving couple, and never before have I seen the kind of interaction and dynamic that they do. They don’t just act lovey-dovey like any model couple, but they have their fights and their disagreements too. They also push the boundaries of a relationship above the simple kiss too, with a lot of focus spent on bringing out the couple to life. Handholding and hugging can also be seen when playing and not merely cutscenes, which boosts this dynamic even further. Kay and Yu can start holding hands when you’re travelling long distances, and conversely they can hug or kiss if you leave the controller idle for a couple of seconds. This cuteness can be also beneficial, as sometimes a kiss will restore a bit of health as well.
Haven is a unique game, and one which I cannot recommend enough on getting. It is nothing like I have played before, and probably nothing I will experience again, certainly in a long while. The simplistic nature of its gameplay coupled by all the things you can do inside the game, topped off by the incredibly lifelike interactions between Yu and Kay give Haven all it needs to be a one of a kind experience. In a tough time with a big lack of human contact, Haven brings about enough love and sweetness to fill that hole, and then some.
Go buy Haven NOW on Steam!
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