From the Game Bakers study comes Haven, a non-typical turn-based RPG. You play as an exiled couple (Yu & Kay) in the planet Source, after an accidental landing. They escape from the Apiary, their original location, where your lover is determined for the government, because they wanted to stay together. You have tons of things to do on this new planet, but first, you have to repair your flying ship, the Cocoon.
Living inside the Cocoon
The Cocoon and the island where it is will be your HQ. You can explore it freely. You will see the protagonists in different places on the ship, in some cases, depending on where they are, you can trigger some relationship events. The HQ has important functions, like creating new items, growing plants, cooking dishes, or improve your current equipment. Also, You will unlock new features, like a mascot or a quick travel option progressing through the story, among others.
In this game, the level is the lover’s relationship. You can rise it fighting with the enemies, during certain points of the story or when you eat food. When you fill the relation bar, you can trigger an event inside the Cocoon to level up. Levelling up will give you new actions for moving, and will improve your stats and battle commands.
In addition, about the Cocoon events, some will activate during the story’s progress. Others trigger after obtaining key items or new pieces for your ship, and after eating determined food. They touch on planet Source and the couple’s themes. During the game, the lovers will have conversations, and depending on your answer, one of them will win determination. That will be relevant for the ending but will not determine the one which you will get (there are two endings).
Exploring Planet Source
When you are exploring the planet Source you will discover interesting story events. Also, you can collect vegetables for different purposes: cooking, create items, improve your equipment, obtain new features, or repair your ship.
The planet has a night & day cycle, 24 min of real life are 1 day in-game approx. It is a curiosity because it only affects a couple of secrets and little else (the story talk about an enemy at night too, but you will see it during day)
The planet Source is composed of islands. There is collectible rust in a big part of them. You have to clean the islands to obtain the rust because you need it to create some key items. Also, you can make battle items with it. In the beginning, it doesn’t respawn on the islands, so you have a “limited” quantity available, but when you progress in the story, there will be some islands where the rust reappears.
Furthermore, this rust turns the planet’s inhabitants into aggressive threats. You have to battle them if you want to clean the island. When you decontaminate the island, there won’t be more enemies there (it does not apply to the secret bosses), excepting the islands with rust respawn.
There are three relevant indicators, asides from the relationship, on Haven: Health, Wave Flow, and Hunger. The health determines how much damage can sustain your characters, when this value reaches 0, this character has to be helped to continue the battle. If both are in this situation, you lose the combat, and you will reappear in the nearest recovery point. You can heal the characters using battle items created with rust, their use is immediate, sleeping at the Cocoon or at the camping points, distributed on several islands, eating food with healing properties, or use healing items created with plants, both usable at the Cocoon or the Camping points.
The wave flows are the blue lines that you will see in all the islands, you can walk over one to obtain it for your characters, being some places only accessible if you go to the end of the line. Wave is used to run, to clean rust, to use the charge function, which is useful to open abandoned houses, where you get some loot, and to stun or to move some enemies.
Finally, hunger will affect characters’ battle performance. If they are hungry, they will need more time to charge the attacks. It is “healed” eating food at the Cocoon or Camping points.
Time to battle the local creatures
The combat system is turn-based without indicators of the turn order. You require time to charge your abilities, and you have to manage every character individually. You will select one of your characters’ commands with the directional buttons and the other one with the YXBA (or equivalent) buttons. This combination in the keyboard is odd, so I recommend to play Haven with a controller.
The combat commands are two different attacks, one melee (impact) and one ranged (blast), pacify your enemies or defend the couple. You require time to charge your attacks, but you can hold it until you want to release it. Every enemy has its weaknesses and its resistances, and later in the story, the enemies will need some special strategies, like alternating impact or blast depending on their stance. Also, the bosses, and the optional bosses, need strategies to be defeated.
The defend command is applicable for both members. If Yu use it, and the enemy attacks Kay, Yu will cover Kay and vice versa, however, you have a limit to use this command continuously by the same protagonist. However, you can avoid this limitation if you alternate between the characters.
Pacify is the final action, which you will use after defeating the enemies. If you don’t pacify them, they will come back to the combat. After pacifying, the creatures will be friendly, and you can pet them if you want. If you defeat them previously, you can pacify simultaneously several targets.
Aside from the normal commands, You can use an item created from rust in-battle to heal your lost health points, launch and impact/blast to all enemies, or improve your character’s velocity. You can use them before or after the battles too.
Finally, you can combine the attacks to perform double attacks, where a wheel will spin, and, if your attack charge coincides with a determined section of this wheel, you will deal extra hits.
Graphics, Soundtrack & Others
The graphics on Haven are very colouristic. The Planet Source is very well-defined and the soundtrack is good, both fit the game motif perfectly. All the islands are very similar, there are different environments, but they look alike, but each one has its things to investigate. The exploration audio is good, except for the night, where no music sounds. The combat theme is great, and the bosses have another too.o.
There are two difficulty levels, I played it on normal, and it’s playable without difficulty problems, except for some bosses. Finally, You have the option to play cooperatively in this game. I recommend playing it with your girlfriend/boyfriend because some stuff is very oriented to lovers (and their problems), but it’s enjoyable alone. The game subtitles are available in several languages and voices are in English.
Overall: 9. Haven is an atypical proposal within the RPG genre. The time-based combat system, the survival on an unknown planet, the relationship between the protagonists, the interaction with the planet inhabitants, give a very different perspective of the genre. I see it oriented to the cooperative play with your girlfriend/boyfriend, because some themes are related to couple dynamics, but it’s enjoyable if you play it alone. Probably, not all RPG players like it, but if you want to try new/different things it’s an interesting title to explore.