Havendock is a Bubbly, Bottomless Builder

Havendock Preview

When it comes to my favorite game genres, building simulations rest just a notch below action RPGs. Whether they let me build sprawling theme parks or zoos, future cities or colonies on a distant planet, I’m in. They don’t have to be super complicated, either. Sometimes, chill, relaxing good times are all I want, tinkering with a little living metropolis and playing God with its hapless citizens. YYZ’s Havendock, now in early access, fits the bill.

Simple Living in the Middle of the Sea

Havendock starts you with one character on a tiny desert island in the middle of the ocean. Wood and other detritus float by, and fish are abundant. You start by building some simple structures, a pump to gather seawater and a purifier to make it potable. From these humble beginnings, a thriving community is born.


Most survival and crafting games have the player searching far and wide for materials. Havendock turns the formula on its head. The materials — at least at the start — come to you. As you ascend the tech tree, you gain the ability to more proactively gather resources, including various levels of fishing and even pumping oil.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Building a theme park eventually requires guests to generate income. In Havendock, expanding your community with other people is an obvious necessity. There are lots of jobs to do and your little founder can’t go it alone.

Luckily, as your island paradise expands, it becomes more attractive to would-be transplants, each with a very specific personality and set of needs. This aspect of the game is surprisingly, almost Rimworld-level deep and entertaining. The new residents are often quirky and have a wide range of moods. Depending on how you set up the game’s conditions, they can grow sick and die. Because it’s out at sea, the community is subject to all manner of ocean-related disasters and these can seriously impact the town.

As in most games in the genre, keeping your population happy, healthy, entertained, well-fed, and adequately sheltered is an important aspect of play. Once assigned jobs and a routine, though, your adorable townsfolk require monitoring but not too much micromanagement. This allows you to dive ever further into the game’s Marianas trench-deep array of crops, livestock, plants, wildlife, pets, and economic growth opportunities.

Simple, Cute, and Colorful

Some might be initially put off by Havendock’s simple, blocky visuals. In reality, the art is colorful and has an appealing, tilt-shift sort of appearance. While characters are also very simple, they’re not without expression. I personally much prefer Havendock’s graphic design to that of yet another pixel art copycat game. Between Havendock’s bouncy musical score and visuals, the presentation is lighthearted and easy to spend time with.

Still in early access but being updated and expanded regularly, Havendock does a great job of straddling the line between complexity and approachability. Like the ocean in which your growing town sits, Havendock is deep. It can be played in a number of ways, from chill and relaxing to pretty intensely involving. I’m really enjoying my time with Havendock and look forward to watching develop.