There’s always time for additional small, cozy games heavily based on exploration. Born from the inspiration of A Short Hike, Haven Park attempts tackling this niche, but while it does show similarities, it’s not quite the same. Let’s dig a bit deeper into its gameplay in this review.
Players play as Flint, an adorable yellow chick who wants to see his grandma’s island-based park serviceable to please its campers. The game won’t have a story to play out as progress is made through the park, but players will be able to learn the campers’ wishes and build what they desire in this short two to five hour game.
Haven Park is a game about exploring Flint’s grandma’s park, collecting resources, completing quests, and setting up structures to satisfy campers. The materials and coins picked up while exploring will increase XP and eventually level Flint up. SP is gained upon leveling up, which can be used to unlock new skills and content for Flint to make the gameplay even more convenient.
There’s a lot to explore in Haven Park. The game will have players traversing the island as Flint, a small yellow bird. They’ll need to discover new areas throughout the island, fix up broken objects, and collect resources to use for crafting. It’s a game meant for players to sit back and relax, and players won’t find many difficult obstacles to overcome. What they will find are characters along the way that will give them quests and play games with them.
Although there’s no running in this game, there is an unlockable method to increase movement speed. The lack of the ability is noticeable at times, especially with no fast-travel option between camps, but players can swim and jump to their heart’s content. Flint’s quirky walk gives him a personality essential in making this game unique; that, and my personal favorite, his “Pew” shoutout both capture his adorable character.
The game’s open world map is small and nice for such an indie title. Players will need to frequently revisit areas to seek out additional resources or complete tasks they haven’t finished yet. It’s a game that puts the freedom to do what players like in the palm of their hands. The most challenging aspect the game poses is completing the map. It’s not something that’s easily achievable, adding some motivation to continue playing.
Discovering new campsites and building them up is one of the primary objectives in Haven Park. Each campsite will have a list of items campers demand to satisfy their needs. Fulfilling the wishes of a current camper will bring a new one in until all slots are filled.
Going around from camp to camp fulfilling campers’ needs eventually started to feel like an undesirable chore. There’s a small number of placeable items in the game and it started to feel like each campsite was the same. It was still fun to travel around, collect the resources, and bring them back to tick yet another objective off the list, but there’s a limit to how much one can be entertained from its decor management.
The game doesn’t stop at giving free roam; it also lets players place the structures where they want and how they want them on the campsite. If not satisfied with a location to place an item, you can destroy it and salvage its materials to start again.
Besides exploring the island and building up campsites, there will be quests from campers to complete. There won’t be many of them, but there will be a handful of sufficiently paced and interesting quests to take on as players hike their way through the island. Some of the quests to expect are fixing vehicles, finding treasure, and even playing hide and seek.
Graphics and Soundtrack
Haven Park’s art style is cute and makes the time spent exploring the island worthwhile. There’s a lot of great scenery to admire right down to character models in motion while walking or swimming and feels pacifying. To top it all off, the game runs flawlessly on the Nintendo Switch.
The game interchanges its soundtrack between calming tunes and the natural sounds of nature. When not listening to the soothing music that comes with the game, players will hear the roaring sound of the ocean, the repeated tapping noise that tiny feet make, and the drizzling of raindrops.
Haven Park is a short and wholesome game that captures the relaxing atmosphere it was intended to have. It greatly excels in exploration and the music is fantastically calm setting the right mood for any stroll. Unfortunately, it falls a bit short in the campsite building department, making it difficult to differentiate one campsite from the other and eventually becoming more of a necessity rather than entertaining.
Haven Park gets an 8/10.