The Haven demo was one of more than a dozen games launched as first-look demos as part of The Game Festival, a special event created by The Game Awards to give upcoming games a bit of exposure via Steam. I've been following this game for some time (and had a rather nice interview with the developers), so I was quite keen on seeing whether or not it lived up to my expectations. In a word: absolutely.
If you're unfamiliar with Haven — not to be confused with Haeven, Space Haven, or Project Haven — it's a story about two lovers, Yu and Kay. They escape to an uncivilized planet for reasons we don't yet know at the beginning of the game as it's seemingly the only way they can be together.
Yu and Kay have to survive while uncovering the mysteries of the planet, dodging its hazards and trying to live a life in the shadow of whoever or whatever is actually chasing them. It seems to be an intriguing mix of an exploration game, visual novel, and survival sim, and I was very excited to hop into the Haven demo.
Don't Turn Out the Lights
I spent the first few moments of the Haven demo watching Yu and Kay get ready to share an intimate moment. Unfortunately, the lights went out as they hadn't stocked up on Flow for their ship. This catapulted me immediately into a tutorial out in the game world.
Haven is interesting in that there are two equal main characters. As I was playing this game by myself, I had control of both characters simultaneously; one would lead and the other would follow. Occasionally, they would smooch when stopped or hold each other's hands while flying around. I'm not entirely sure if there was a way to trigger this or if it happened randomly; either way, it was nice.
Gliding along the ground can be done at any time to speed things up, but your first introduction to it will be an objective to collect Flow. You need to find the starting point and then glide all the way to the end to properly collect it. After I had a decent handle on flying, I headed back to their ship for a little relaxation.
The Best Nest in the West
Yu and Kay's ship is called the "Nest", and it's certainly an appropriate name. Although the outside looks like an interstellar spacecraft, the inside is super comfy and with everything you'd need in the course of the game.
My first objective on my return was to get some cooking done. Regrettably, I had only one ingredient, so the recipe consisted of stuffing ten of the same thing into a pot and cooking it. There was an option to store it in the fridge, so I'm presuming that there is going to be some sort of survival element to the game — or perhaps food is just used to recover your health,
After that was done, I was able to move around the Nest's cabin. This location more or less acted as the hub for the game where you would do crafting or experience other in-game events when not zipping around the world. Although the game suggested that I go to sleep for the day, I didn't have to and could have instead headed back outside or just lounged about on a chair and chatted.
With food in their bellies and the sun set, I decided to go to sleep and call it a day. It was then that disaster struck.
I Wanna Fly Away
Not too long after the second day started, a terrible shaking took place. The floating island on which the Nest resided cracked and shattered, causing it to fall from atop of a cliff where it was (rather recklessly) parked. Yu and Kay then found themselves separated from their home, so the journey began to get back.
I explored the surrounding area to a degree and eventually stumbled upon an energy bridge of sorts that would take me to another island. I also encountered some wildlife, although it was not at all hostile. I was most excited about the prospect of getting new food items to see what kinds of new cooking recipes could be made up.
Upon arriving on the other side of the energy bridge, Yu and Kay were placed on a land that was similar in many respects and very different in others. Large blobs of red junk covered much of the land, and the animals seemed different, too. Judging from the trailers, I had thought of this rusty stuff as a resource. I was only half right: it is indeed a resource, but further investigation revealed that it was corrupting the local wildlife somehow, necessitating combat.
I headed towards a particularly large creature thinking that I might trigger some sort of cutscene. Instead, I found myself in my first (and only) battle of the Haven demo. There are four possible moves for both characters:
- Blast: shoots an energy blast at an enemy.
- Impact: charges into the enemy and physically attacks them.
- Shield: protects the player character(s).
- Pacify: ends combat after a creature has been successfully weakened.
Combat in the Haven demo was essentially styled like Pokémon. You have to weaken enemies using attacks and then use the Pacify ability to calm them down.
The individual attacks weren't working, so a Duo attack was suggested by one of the characters. This involves holding the ability button for the same attack to charge it up and then firing it off when a circling meter lines up properly. This does far more damage than a singular attack and was the sensible thing to do for a larger battle. The gameplay trailer showed that you could fight multiple creatures at once, so I imagine that these duo attacks weren't always the best option.
After freeing the large creature of the rust that was making him angry, I headed back out into the world to continue the search for the Nest.
The Haven Demo Left Me Wanting More
With one piece of combat done, I was keen to collect more food and make my way back home. I found some more ingredients and was anxious to see what could be cooked up and carry on with the story. Unfortunately, it was here that the "demo" part of the Haven demo reared its ugly head — things came to a rather unceremonious end after crossing the threshold of another energy bridge.
I understand The Game Bakers' desire to leave the player wanting more — it certainly did for me. However, I would have liked to see just one more evening in the Nest, trying out new recipes and maybe a bit of crafting or analyzing the rust samples that I had collected after the islands had shattered.
I can't say anything else about Haven other than it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. It has fantastic characters, an interesting (though simple) spin on Active Time Battle-style RPG combat, and a compelling story. I can't wait to dive in deeper when Haven releases next year.
TechRaptor conducted our preview of Haven on PC via a demo freely downloaded from Steam as part of The Game Festival.