This past week and a bit has been brilliant in for new games, and Haven is undoubtedly part of that crowd. It’s been on my radar for a while now, but have since had the opportunity to play – no, experience it.
Playing the roles of Kay and Yu, you are two lovers ‘living the dream’, escaping to Source, a remote planet far from civilisation. Kay is a biologist and Yu, an uber mechanic. But let’s not define them by their professions, they’re in love.
But before all you alphas start dismissing it, concede to this power couple as their relationship is so infectious. I’ll brave it and say that the dialogue between the two in Haven are some of the best I’ve ever heard, without question. So, let’s get to it.
Haven PS5 Review
This review was the PS4 version from The Game Bakers, but because they’re such lovely people, it gets a free PS5 update. As I use a PS5, that’s what this is based upon. And that’s a bit of a privilege too as it’s an elegantly presented title.
The visuals in this game are absolutely stunning. More so from the minimalist school of thought as this isn’t about showcasing the textures (though gliding through the blades of grass rarely gets old). Instead, it’s the crystal clarity and gorgeous, vibrant colour palette used throughout.
To make full use of the visuals, you can customise the options by removing all distractions such as the HUD, but in truth, everything about the interface is so well designed, I ended up keeping it all switched on.
This served the purpose for the subtitles too. Like many gamers, I have to contend with family when playing consoles games, so it’s not uncommon to have subs on in case missing anything, and as Haven plays out a lot like a visual novel, you need to be able to follow it.
Before mentioning the dialogue again, I have to say that the intro to this game is insane. It’s an animation piece that wouldn’t look out of place in a feature or music video. Though it repeats each time you load the game, it never gets tiresome. In one word: beautiful.
And, while we’re swooning about the presentation side of things, the soundtrack is brilliant. At first, I was going to conclude by saying it was a bit like Air or Daft Punk. That felt like it was a sub-conscious decision because it was French, but in reality, I love both, and this score from Danger feels as alive and the couple’s banter.
Coming down off the cloud a little, what’s Haven actually about and what do you do? Well, as said, you play the lovebirds, who’ve escaped society to live in their little bliss. Coincidentally, the hub of the game where you eat, sleep and share exposition, is called the Nest.
When an unexpected earthquake overturns their home, they have to source (geddit?) the planet, collecting various materials to rebuild the ship, battling nasties along the way. Well, everything is so lovey-dovey that the nasties are actually goodies, effected by contaminated rust.
The rust is a bit like the corruption in Mononoke Hime. It’s a crimson liquid spread over the lands, damaging everything in its path. Still, if you fly over the source, you collect the rust, and if you’re able to rebuild your ship and the damage will stop.
A casual remark about flying there, but it’s a prominent feature. Kay and Yu have anti-gravity boots that allow them to boost through the land, building their capacity by drifting through flows that appear on the screen.
Haven is an open-world setup where you’ll be travelling over bifröst-like bridges that connect you to a new section to repeat the same as before. This is perhaps the weakness to Haven’s sweetness as it can be rather bland.
Sure, the visuals are beautiful, but collecting parts, ingredients, and battling the odd enemy, then rinsing and repeating can be dull. Even when you locate the mini-map, it’s all somewhat repetitive and a bit uneventful. Fortunately then, it’s saved by the interactions between the two.
Talk It Out
The dialogue is natural, and while the romance is in abundance, it isn’t sickly and the two converse as a couple in love. Kay is a bit of a nerd, and Yu busts his balls for it. Yu is always hungry, and Kay experiments with a series of dishes to match that appetite.
When out in the field, you can switch between the two on the fly (ha!), but it doesn’t make any difference to the gameplay, just the dialogue. When Yu is in front, she’ll apologise for missing a turning, when behind, she’ll confide that she likes to be at the back to stare at Kay’s butt. Filth!
It certainly helps that the voice talent is perfectly cast, and as someone who tends to stay relatively clear from visual novels, I was hanging on every word, almost longing for a little quip from the two. One scene has Yu asking to switch places in bed, to which Kay replies about the wet patch.
Easily the highlight then is the relationship, and that’s key in the story. We get some exposition, learning a few traits. With the gameplay, it’s may be monotonous for some. As someone who tends to grind games, I’m happy to loiter in the same areas, but with something to do. Still, it’s always safe to retreat to the Nest for a little banter and some levelling up of skills. Relationship +1.
Haven Review Summary
The key to a story is the plot and/or characters. Without a doubt, Kay and Yu are the focal point in Haven. I absolutely loved them and how their presence and the game’s mood made me feel. The only real downside then was the gameplay. Totally worth the experience from my perspective, just be aware of the repetition.