Summer Game Fest – Preview: Haven

By John Wahl

Like with a relationship, first impressions of a video game are important. You need to hook players with their first time with a game or they may never come back to it. The upcoming adventure game Haven from developer The Game Bakers (Furi) managed to leave me impressed and intrigued after my time with their new demo, and that’s a promising start.

You play as young couple Yu and Kay, explorers who have left their home world and are hiding out on a remote planet. Why they left home in the first place wasn’t revealed in my 30 minutes with the game, but they are definitely hoping not to be found. I get the sense it may be a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type of situation.

The game is a combination of 3rd person adventure with some visual novel style storytelling in between. When in your home (which they call the Nest), you get to know the couple through interactive conversations. You play as both characters in the game so you get to choose from branching narrative choices for both sides of the conversation. It’s not clear yet how much of a difference your answers make or if the story changes depending on them, but the writing and voice acting is quite well done and does a good job of getting you interested in these characters.

You can also explore a bit around the capsule while inside, check out their living conditions and even trying your hand at cooking using the local ingredients found on the planet. Which mostly seems to consist of a fruit called ‘Appledew’, which they are quite sick of but have managed to find creative cooking methods to keep interesting during their time on the planet.

Venturing outside of the Nest, and into the wilds of the planet is where things get more interesting in Haven. Here you take control of both characters as they explore, switching back and forth between them using the dpad. Yu and Kay float along the surface of the planet as if they were skating on ice, you can even drift to make sharp turns. It’s a fun way to get around and kind of left me with a Tony Hawk-esque vibe, wishing I had more control to jump and pull off tricks.

Outside you’ll collect more food and gather “flow”, a natural resource which powers your technology. You’ll also come across a rust like substance covering certain portions of the planet which you can clean up by skating over the top of it. Traversing and exploring this initial part of the game was fun, and I hope that they add a bit of biodiversity to the rest of the planet as you progress to keep things interesting.

You’ll also occasionally come across a hostile local creature that you’ll need to fight in order to tame it. The combat system divides each character onto one side of the controller, using the d-pad and left trigger to choose your commands for one character and the face buttons and right trigger for the other. The combat is pretty simple in this early stage of the game, with just a few simple commands to choose from, but you can sync your commands together for more powerful attacks, which adds a little bit of diversity.

My first impressions with Haven were pretty encouraging. It has pretty solid gameplay but I think that this game will most likely succeed or fail based on the characters and storytelling, which seem pretty good so far. They’re also promising a co-op mode in the final product which may make it an entertaining couch co-op game to play with your significant other. Either way I was impressed enough for a second date when the game launches later this year.


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