The Game Baker’s Haven is a sci-fi story rich adventure, set in the atmospheric realms of outer space.
Creators of the 2016 boss-fight-only action game Furi, the latest game from French indie development studio The Game Bakers brings whole new elements into play – from a romantic love story embroiling the two main playable characters, to a beautiful open world filled with fantastical creatures.
Originally released on December 3rd 2020, the romantic RPG adventure is now available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation consoles, and Xbox consoles (including Xbox Game Pass).
Romeo And Juliet In Space
We join the story of Haven in the midst of a great technological space revolution. Our protagonists, named Kay and Yu, are on the run from the oppressive society known as the ‘Apiary’, which forces people to couple up arbitrarily (and often against their will).
In order to escape the tyrannical matchmaking, and their predestined future spouses, Kay and Yu run away together to set up a new life on the run. Players join their quest on a distant remote planet named by the couple as ‘Source’, marking a new beginning of their lives together.
As the story progresses, we learn more about the couple’s relationship, as well as their previous backgrounds within the Apiary, and the struggles they have faced in order to be together.
The main goal in Haven is to avoid capture and extradition to Kay and Yu’s home planets, and live out their days in freedom.
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The gameplay elements of Haven are as unique as its storyline.
While the gameplay is predominantly single-player, with one player switching between roles as both Yu and Kay, the game can also be played in co-operative multiplayer mode. This is handy for anyone looking to play in local co-op mode with friends, and can help to accomplish tasks that much more quickly.
It’s not just limited to the open world exploration that forms the interesting aspects of the gameplay in Haven, though. There are also some gameplay elements similar to dating simulators or more traditional RPGs, where players choose different dialogue options in conversations between the couple from their makeshift spaceship home, known as the Nest.
It’s unclear towards the beginning whether the dialogue choices you make matter in the long run, but as the story progresses, it begins to unfold how the nature of these conversations can impact the entire course of the game.
For anyone who’s ever played PowerWash Simulator, there’s also a clean-up element to the gameplay that you will love. When a sludge-like blight known as ‘rust’ infects a planet, Kay and Yu task themselves with cleaning up the environment, using their hoverboots to evaporate the substance and leave the space clean and fertile with fresh grass. This particular element is very satisfying, and we always felt better leaving the planet looking spotless.
Manga-esque Art Style
The Japanese anime art style lends itself well to this game, which could almost come from the pages of an otaku graphic novel. Overall the graphics are bright, vivid, colorful, and inviting, which is a far cry from something you’d expect from a dystopian sci-fi rebellion for freedom set in outer space.
Electronic Space Soundscapes
The music is one of our favourite parts of Haven. The soothing electronic soundtrack was created by DANGER, the French electronic musician, who pairs calming background music with pulsing, dance-like beats to keep up with the flow of the gameplay.
This isn’t the first time that DANGER has collaborated with the team at The Game Bakers, though, as his song titled “6:24” was used for the video game Furi, and he also contributed five more songs to the game.
The ‘Sweet Little Things’ Update
In the first major content update since Haven’s launch in December 2020, The Game Bakers have released a variety of new free add-ons for players across every console. This includes everything from two new outfit choices for Yu and Kay, named ‘Streetwear’ and ‘Top/Truth’ (inspired by their origin planets).
The update also included a ‘meloglide’, so players can choose which music to listen to from the original soundtrack as they journey across mysterious planets and vast open wildernesses.
All in all, it’s a great free addition to Haven that adds enough helpful tweaks and aesthetic content to further enhance the game.
Haven‘s Less Than Heavenly
Despite all of the positives going for Haven, it doesn’t come without its flaws.
In addition to traversing through each environment, the game also includes a hunger management system similar to survival games like Don’t Starve. This usually wouldn’t be a major issue in other games within the adventure genre – however, players can usually only make food for Kay and Yu back at the Nest, or from limited food resources specific campsites. Hunger depletion is particularly aggressive for such a massive open world exploration game, which means that you’re often too far away from a campsite or the Nest by the time you need to eat again.
The survival elements aren’t the only aspects to suffer in Haven. Combat can be particularly challenging in some battles, with some enemies or bosses requiring you to watch carefully to find their weak point and plan your attack. We found this to be unusually tricky, though, as it could sometimes be awkward to learn the attack patterns in the heat of battle, while also paying attention to dodging and defending.
Haven is overall a solid and enjoyable experience. The worlds and puzzles within them are fun and interesting to explore, and the romance between the two protagonists is perfect for anyone who regularly enjoys the average dating simulator. However, there were some struggles with the controls, as well as some more cumbersome aspects to the early stages of the game.