Haven is a romantic RPG that concentrates on the love and growth of our two protagonists: Yu and Kay. Released in time for Valentine’s Day, I was guilty of spending the weekend pretending to be two fictional characters instead of pursuing my own love life, but it’s hard to blame me – Yu and Kay’s interactions and emotions are incredibly relatable. Silly, adventurous, and never compromising their own personality, Haven shows us what it’s like to explore and survive an unknown world through mutual love and understanding, and is a great depiction of a realistic relationship that is refreshing to see.
Finding A New Home
An RPG adventure about love, freedom, and settling down in an unknown world, the game is about Yu and Kay’s journey to start a new life with one another after escaping their fates back home. Beautifully designed characters and an ethereal soundtrack help create a wonderful fictional story for us to explore. After a quake damages Yu and Kay’s home base, “the Nest”, they travel around looking for parts to fix their shelter while scouring for food. As we traverse to different islets in search of items for survival, we find new ingredients, encounter friendly and infected creatures, and come face to face with the mysteries of their own upbringing. Being a couple who travels together, players have the option to switch between using Yu and Kay, and a second player can drop in and play as one of the characters as well.
The game naturally revolves around the two characters’ relationship, and as the player you get to occasionally choose how to respond to a character’s remark – sometimes you respond as Yu, and sometimes you respond as Kay. Depending on your dialogue choice, this could increase that character’s confidence and the bond between the two lovers. Unlike the average RPG where you gain stats by winning battles, Haven focuses on gaining stats through Yu and Kay’s progressing relationship.
Although Haven is not a hard game to play, it is definitely easier to understand if you have previous RPG experience. In Haven, you have an established home base which allows you to synthesize medicine, cook and eat food, grow and harvest plants, and much more. You also have to travel, farm, and battle creatures to gain access to ingredients, parts, and new areas to explore. For those newer to RPGs, it can be challenging to know what to do first in order to optimize your gains. Yu and Kay briefly explain what everything is, but it is still up to the player to know how to use their time wisely.
Explore, Eat, Sleep, Repeat
A lot of farming and material-gathering is required in this game and can be a monotonous grinding experience. The story cannot progress until you’ve met certain requirements and found materials to repair your home base. To do this you will need to continuously explore, feed your characters, heal their injuries, and have them win battles to collect more rust particles for your parts. The backpack Yu and Kay carry can only hold a limited supply of food and medicine, and players must seek out campgrounds in order to have a place to eat and heal. The process repeats itself over and over and constantly doing the same thing can be a tedious task.
Battles occur in real-time and, for the most part, involve creatures that have been infected. There are two main moves you can perform, Impact or Blast, and different creatures are weak to certain moves. You can also have one character shield while the other fights, or you can charge one move together for increased damage. Once you have weakened your enemies, either Yu or Kay (or both) will need to Pacify them to bring them back to their senses, otherwise they will recover and start to fight again. Battles tend to go by quickly and some enemies are optional to defeat, but if you are a completionist you will want to defeat every creature you see.
With much of the game being about exploration, Haven falls short in providing worlds with anything eye-catching that differentiates them from one another. Almost all the lands are covered in hues of green and blue, with some pink spots that depict rust-infested locations. That same landscape is repeated throughout the many different parts of the world and it becomes more about getting through that islet rather than exploring it. There is a helpful map that illustrates where you have been and what you have found in that location; without this guide, it would be near impossible to tell the difference between Tsupime and Benako, all interestingly named areas with nothing spectacular about them.
One of Haven’s greatest strengths is demonstrating a relationship with realistic dialogue and emotions. The game is fully voiced, which also brings the characters’ feelings to another level that can sometimes be hard with written dialogue alone. Yu and Kay’s conversations show us how to approach all moments couples go through, from disappointing news to happy achievements. Oftentimes they have uncomfortable discussions about their past, and like all couples they have disagreements. Haven beautifully demonstrates how to accept each other’s faults and shortcomings with trust and just a few simple words of affirmation, and being able to visualize and take part in a healthy and mature relationship is comfortable to experience.
Haven is a noteworthy story that defines what it is like to find your home with your loved one. Yu and Kay have their ups and downs, but Haven shows that love conquers all hardships. The game is about exploring and finding new places, and of course being free to love whoever you want. Like all relationships the game isn’t perfect, but it successfully presents a warm and powerful narrative that demonstrates an adult relationship with characters that we can all relate to.
***A PS4/PS5 code was provided by the publisher***
- Relatable Characters
- Fully Voiced With Fantastic Storytelling
- Beautiful Artwork And Music
- Environments All Look Similar
- Repetition In Exploration
- Previous RPG Experience Is Handy