- Haven Park is a short indie game with cute graphics and characters
- If you want to explore, find resources, build, and interact with campers, this is the game for you
- Although it is not very long, the quests and sidequests make it feel interactive and fun
- Keep in mind that Haven Park is not a simulator, but more an exploration game
Haven Park is a cute and wholesome indie game about exploration and restoring a nature park to its former glory. You explore a tiny and peaceful open world. Meet and talk to the campers, find the resources required to build cozy little campings, and keep the campers happy. You will also have plenty of side quests on your journey.
It’s not often that my own prejudice about a game leads me astray, but that’s exactly what happened with Haven Park. When Mooneye Studios (of Lost Ember fame) contacted me with a review copy, I wasn’t sure if this would be the game for me. I notoriously dislike any kind of sim or management game and I wrongfully thought this would be a mix of both.
Haven Park is a game about exploration, not a sim
If you share the same concerns, or if you’re the opposite and a park management sim is exactly what you were looking for in this title, let me set the record straight: Haven Park, is first and foremost, a game about exploration: You walk around the map, always discovering new locations and people to talk to while you pick up items along the way.
It has a satisfying gameplay loop where you constantly see something new to interact with at the edge of the screen, you walk towards it and then something new appears on your path, begging to be inspected.
But above all, Haven Park is a relaxing experience. There is no time pressure to keep the park visitors happy, no bars to keep full like how much they have to eat or drink. The only requirements are building certain constructions on each campsite, like tents to sleep in, a barbeque to order food from or a nice swimming pool to plunge into when they feel like it. But you do all of this at your own leisure. Want to save up metal and build a Ferris wheel? Go right ahead, no one will complain.
Flint, small but capable
You may have also noticed the cute protagonist. We play as Flint, a young bird who has recently inherited the responsibility of keeping the park clean and tidy from his grandmother.
You fix broken fences and street lights, build campsites and talk to the visitors to see if there is anything you can help them with.
They’ll send you on quests that are needed to progress the game, but it never really felt like a chore and I really did want to help out the cutesy animal characters. I first thought most of these were sidequests, but it turns out that they all contribute to a grand finale.
Example: You need Robin’s help to open the drawbridge behind him. But first, you’ll need to get a crown back from a snowman not far from him. The snowman has a quest of his own, where you need to bring him a shiny gem to serve as a new nose.
But that gem can only be earned by following another series of quests that are spread across the map. Each needing some singular item to progress. You see where I’m going with this.
I was lucky to already have said gem, but I can see how some frustration could set in if you have to backtrack to find it, especially because it’s not exactly a straightforward questline.
That being said, everything you do in the game does reward you with experience, even picking up small branches or pieces of cloth. Whenever you gain a level, you can assign points to a simple skill system that will allow you to carry more items, jump higher or build new constructions on your campsite.
Again, don’t let any of this stress you: there is more than enough experience to be earned and you’ll easily get up to the maximum level. Some people may feel like this is needless padding, but I’ve always appreciated RPG systems in games, no matter how small.
In fact, it’s these small feelings of accomplishment that make it such a wholesome game: there is always something to be gained and a new satisfying box to be ticked.
What isn’t great about Haven Park?
This brings me to probably one of the only complaints or frustrations I have with Haven Park: the map.
When you discover a new campsite/region, it will appear on the map. So far so good. The only problem is the map is never used to indicate where to go next and even worse, doesn’t show Flint’s location on it.
Haven Park is by no means a long game, I only took around 4 hours to beat it and most of the optionable stuff, but a larger-than-needed amount of that time was spent trying to find my bearings and where I had to go next.
Friends of mine who were also playing the game would send me private messages, asking me how to find the cable car again or where the cannon is that shoots them to the last part of the game, but I couldn’t really give them clear instructions as the way this bit of linear adventuring was shaped wasn’t all that straightforward.
Being able to teleport to a certain campsite would already go a long way, but without it, you’ll mostly need to rely on the good old-fashioned signposts that you find at every intersection.
That literally is the only complaint I can find about the game though, so it won’t come as a surprise that I wholly recommend that you check this out if you’re into small adventures like this. It’s guaranteed to be a relaxing experience and since it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it can be beaten in just a few sittings and becomes a nice memory to think back of every now and then.
Final thoughts on Haven Park
- Cute visual Style
- Great gameplay loop
- Everything about it seems to be designed to make it a relaxing experience
- Easy to get lost
- Not very long or replayable
Final Score: 4.5/5
Haven Park is a short but memorable indie game with a focus on exploring, wholesome interactions with park visitors, and a satisfying gameplay loop. It was such a fun experience, that I couldn’t put down the controller and ended up beating it in a single sitting. Recommended and fun for all ages!
Haven Park costs €8,49 and is available on both Nintendo Switch and PC, with a Steam build that’s ready to run on all operating systems. I reviewed it on Windows 10 and used an Xbox controller, but you can easily use a mouse and keyboard as well.
If you’re looking for a good price, G2A is a good place to look.
The controls are very easy to grasp, with mainly a jump button and an action button used to interact with objects and park visitors.
The minimum system requirements are not demanding at all and you should be able to run Haven Park on lower-end setups with little to no effort.
Overall, a short little game with lots of mini-quest that will most certainly keep you entertained, especially with some cute, well-rounded characters. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts about Haven Park in the comments section below and we’ll make sure to continue the talk.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC. Review copy provided by the publisher.