Single people like myself either find Valentine’s Day dates or join our favorite couple as a third wheel to enjoy the festivities, if you’re into that kind of thing. For myself, I try to get a semblance of a social life. However, since it is the time of pandemic and doing anything on Zoom really isn’t my thing, I decided to hang out with this nice couple, Yu and Kay from the game Haven, an indie title from The Game Bakers.
As for the general heteronormative public engaging in this co-dependent behavior of doing everything together, Haven has been marketed as an easily accessible title couples can enjoy on couch co-op.
Was this third wheel outing memorable? I can’t really say much about the food, as they mostly consist of apple dews and boba nuts. The sights on the Planet Source is quite fantastic with hand painted flying rocks and interesting fauna lurking about. I’d say don’t mind the rust that’s covering the planet, but wait until you hear about the couple. They’re 80% of the reason why you’ll love or hate Haven.
It All Depends Whether You Like The Couple
I hate this fucking couple. It’s not about their zero animal byproduct lifestyle, nor their rebellion against their corporate owned planet, it’s simply the fact that they’re a relatively new couple. New couples can get insufferable and we get to bear witness to every event. Every. Single. Event.
I know they’re not under the scrutiny of their society, but there are some dialogue options that is so cringe-inducing that is more awkward than the actual fact that their vessel probably smells like oxytocin and love spunk. For some, they will be relatable and endearing. For others, get ready to roll your eyes.
For the first hour of the game, depending if you listen to the actual dialogue, they will drone on and on about their being a couple. They interchange between groan-worthy banter and too much positive reinforcement, it really feels like that they just started their relationship. Could we get space pirates, a cosmic event, or an actual fight to shake it up?
Nope, we’re going to fill our Flow Engine and look for more apple dews! It takes forty-five minutes from the opening animation before an interesting event actually happens. For a title that spans between 11-13 hours to complete, you take almost a tenth of that to listen to sweet nothings. I actually started playing Nioh to get away from them, and I hate Souls-like games.
My workaround to actually withstand the repetitive cringe-worthy dialogue is to completely switch off the voice volume. I get to read their dialogue with a non-specified voice in my head at my preferred speed (note: lightning fast) and it became bearable. At least now, I can focus on the excellent synthwave soundtrack which immerses me in the Flow Drift, which comprises most of your exploration.
Sign Me Up for Nonviolence!
I started to show signs of interest halfway into the second hour of Haven, when you’re on a fetch quest to find parts and components to fix their ship. Traversing through Flow Bridges that connect the different islets on the planet, you’ll collect rust and ship parts salvaged from an unspecified civilization that attempted to colonize the planet.
The autosave and loading function got repetitive fast as the islets are relatively medium-sized. It takes 5-10 minutes to circumnavigate said floating islands.
Once you end up fighting some of the aggressive fauna affected by the rust, you’ll engage in turn-based combat reminiscent of active time battles. You either engage with impact (a close quarters attack), blast (a long range attack), shield (defensive maneuver), and pacify (to release the creature back into the wild).
You cannot kill these creatures, which is a refreshing turn of events from the many acts of violence we engage on a daily basis traversing our electronic gaming atmosphere.
The combat is simple, which involves holding either the directional or the command buttons until it’s fully charged. Advanced battle commands involve duo impact or duo blast maneuvers and reviving your fallen partner. Once you’re both fully in synergy whether you win fights, clear rust, or engage in such “wonderful” conversations, you level up.
Leveling up requires you to crack open an apple dew liquor bottle at the Nest and no tutorial really clues you into it, I just felt I should save the bottle for something else (like having a no cut scene kinda night). You can cook food harvested from the agriculture of the planet or try different combinations for healing items as well. The more you discover on your trips, the more you could upgrade them on your ship.
At this point, the actual systems and mechanics in place are actually fun and it distracts you from the conversation topics of the couple that involve, well… them and their relationship. I do appreciate their science conversations though, it explains the world around as well as their home planet’s culture and society.
The backstory is interesting, I’m actually interested in their world and the phenomena that occurs within the planet that they escaped to.
Explore This Trippy Atmosphere
It really takes awhile to get into the groove of this game, however. For the first hour and a bit into your exploration, after the first few outings, the islets appear uniform. Nothing clues in where you are exactly. Just vocal cues like playful banter or just some fake positive reinforcement every time someone messes up (eyeroll to infinity). Otherwise, you’ll be flying around in circles until you orient yourself.
About the third hour of your total playthrough, you will most likely chance upon the islet with your first boss battle and upon victory, you’re able to access anti-grav boots and a radar. You finally get a map and a way to utilize Flow to be able to glide through hard to reach jump spots. Once the planet opens up to you, you’re able to explore more and befriend some of the fauna that allow you to fast travel.
Crafting and farming in the game are also fun, which adds to the lifestyle simulation of the game. I like it because it keeps me busy and lets me avoid the conversations of said couple. You could take your hard earned crops and find better combinations for healing and for eating. The couple’s hunger meter depletes rapidly. I’m just glad they don’t have another meter to look out for or this would have been an endless grind.
The healing system is awkward, as the same healing item is used on the couple. It’s problematic because what if only Kay sustained most of the damage that run and Yu got away unscathed? Being less co-dependent can conserve resources better. Just saying.
Around the sixth hour of the game, combat becomes simplistic as your characters are maxed out. And you’ve probably discovered the system to generate the maximum amount of food, healing items, and considerable travel plan to manage all your resources while collecting parts for your ship. At this time, it’s just up to you to rush it to get to the ending or enjoy the ride.
Not all the achievements or trophies in the world will tempt me to spend another minute putting up with these two.
What We Liked:
- The synth score is excellent.
- The world outside the planet seems intriguing.
- The pacifist nature of the fights is refreshing, it feels good not to kill something.
- The challenge is minimal, great for exploration purposes and recreational players.
- The lifestyle simulation is interesting, you can mix and match recipes for food and healing.
What We Didn’t Like:
- For those looking for more challenge in combat, this may not be the game for you.
- Islets appear repetitive until you acquire the radar function and the anti-grav boots.
- Loading times and auto-saving every islet switch feels like a drag even on a next-gen system.
- If you don’t like the couple, the game will get old fast.
- I personally hate the voice acting, but you might like it.
- Starting out the game will involve listening to nonstop couple talk while you patiently wait for some gameplay. I understand that for some people, this may be endearing.
Verdict: Wait For A Demo
While it took all the willpower in the world to give Haven a fair rating, I really feel that if this game comes out with a demo, you should try it out first before buying. It might be the game for you, but I personally didn’t like it. While I slowly grew into the game, it took a while before it picked up momentum. I had to create an excuse to play the game because I probably won’t pick it up again if I didn’t.
The thing is, Haven isn’t bad, it has a lot of merits and a lot of great ideas. Some executed well and I wish someone would execute this couple. The test of whether or not you will like this game is how you gel with the couple. I personally hate their voices and it took forty-five minutes before any conflict happened to get me invested in anything.
That being said, my entire interaction with this game is from solo mode, experiences may vary with couch co-op, maybe if you play as a couple, you might even relate to their squabbles. If you can stand the couple, there’s a big chance that you’ll like the game as well.
There’s a lot to love with the world of Haven that they’ve created and I seriously wanted to see beyond the Planet of Source. I like the usage of the Flow and how it requires their partnership to utilize some of the attacks. I also like that they’re able to gamify the combat system without any actual casualties.
I just didn’t like the characters and their cringe inducing conversations, which comprises 80% of your interaction with this world. I’m sorry, but even if I paid nothing on Game Pass, this has been the worst third wheel outing ever.