Haven is one of those rare games where love between the two people is central to everything that happens. The story is all about the relationship between the main characters Yu and Kay, while the gameplay is all about the two working together and getting stronger as their love strengthens their bond.
Haven is set on a planet called Source, an uninhabited and fractured world that Yu and Kay have run away to as they seek to escape the civilisation known as the Apiary. The two attempt to begin a new live in their isolation, but have to face the challenges that Source throws at them. This includes an environmental hazard that turns the local wildlife violent, and the threat being pursued by the Apiary, whose rules would rip the two of them apart. That is not to mention the day to day of taking care of each other and their relationship, with the highs and lows that come from that. The story is decent enough, but the focus is on this central pair leaving parts of the wider lore of the universe lacking in detail.
Haven’s gameplay can be split into three core areas: exploration, combat, and maintenance. As mentioned, Source is a planet that has been fractured, quite literally breaking up into floating islets that you can explore. These islets contain resources such as plants for food and items to help make repairs to the Nest, the ship that the pair call their home.
Yu and Kay can travel from one islet to another through Flow bridges, which are powered by the threads of Flow that are this universe’s fuel source. Each islet has Flow threads which the pair can surf across using their anti-gravity boots, opening paths to unreachable areas, and filling up Flow batteries. There is a good reason for those batteries to be full; across the majority of islets a substance known as Rust has taken hold, the only way to get rid of it is to fly over it using Flow.
One of the dangers of this strange planet, Rust has also managed to take hold and corrupt the otherwise peaceful animals of Source, chasing after Yu and Kay and making them fight together to survive.
The fight system is nice and intuitive when using a controller, the left analogue stick selecting commands for Kay, while the right analogue can be used in the same way for Yu. Both start off with four available commands – a shield, an impact melee attack, a blast range attack, and the ability to pacify enemies once they’ve been downed. Each battle requires different tactics, such as one of the pair shielding them both while the other fights, using a particular attack to avoid an animal’s resistance, or combining the same attack type for a joint attack. Only when an enemy is downed can it be pacified and cured of its aggression. As the pair’s relationship level increases attacks become more powerful.
The main complaint is that charging up an attack can feel slow, which can lead to a chosen attack not having much affect because an enemy has changed its stance. Yu and Kay can craft items from Rust, like a tonic to speed up attacks, health balms, and attack boosters, but using these takes up quite a bit of time in battle as well.
If a battle becomes too much and both Yu and Kay fall, they are transported back to the Nest or a nearby campsite to heal up, and this is where the maintenance part comes in. With the resources collected they can cook meals, synthesise medicines, and craft boosts. You will need to the medicines and food to heal up, and luckily Source has abundant resources. Food has another element to it and that is an impact on increasing the relationship link. That is one way to further the relationship, while conversations and hitting story points also increasing the relationship link.
Yu and Kay’s relationship may just be the pinnacle of relationship goals. The pair are always supportive of each other, teach each other things, and relax with each other, be it through playing games or intimacy. If you want a positive relationship model then this is it.
Haven looks lovely and has a decent variety to the islet environments. Some will look similar to one another, but there is just enough difference between them that you’ll know where you are. The navigation system helps as well when plotting your path from one islet to another. While the game as a kind of fast travel system it is only available on certain islets, and I was wishing for a more immediate system late on in the game.
The soundtrack of Haven is also great. It’s catchy and energetic, fitting the atmosphere of Haven very nicely through each style of gameplay. Composer Danger steps out from the ensemble of artists that created the OST of Furi, The Game Bakers’ previous game, and takes the spotlight with plenty of bass and exploration of electronic sounds. I just wish there were a few more tracks to break up some of the repetition that’s often seen in RPGs.