One of the more interesting demo offerings as part of Microsoft’s Summer of Gaming lineup is Haven, and it’s definitely shaping up to be an indie release to keep an eye on this year.
From the demo I played, Haven looks to be an action RPG with heavy exploration elements. The demo guide explained that this version was only single player, which was a bit weird to mention but seemingly also means the game was is meant for cooperative play.
The demo began in a spaceship featuring fun banter over the stove between the main characters, Yu and Kay. While we don’t know where in the game this particular portion of the demo takes place, it’s easy to see that the two are in love, which is interesting because it isn’t often we see immediately controllable protagonists involved romantically. At times when you leave the controller still, they’ll even hold hands and makeout, which seemed different yet appropriate. As they shared a moment, the power went out, and that was the opportunity to venture out.
If No Man’s Sky had an anime look to it, that’s what we’d call Haven‘s visual style. The game’s environments are lush and cartoony with some funky use of color to spice it up, so it’s definitely a cool style. Outside, the game gave us the controls. There’s a button to switch characters on the fly and you can also glide around outside with the right trigger. This flying effect took some getting used to, but after collecting flows and some food, it was time go back into the ship.
Back on the ship, we cooked a meal before it was time for the two to go to bed. There was some freedom for a little exploration here, but not much could be done, and after some bed conversation, we find that Yu and Kay are actually lost, and they’re waiting to be picked up, as the couple shares obvious uncertainty of the whole situation.
The next day, it was time to venture out again and we found a path to another island on the planet, where a strange pink goo enveloped the surface. We find out that this goo is affecting the planet and its wildlife, as animals we easily pet earlier were now attacking, which showed a glimpse at Haven‘s battle system.
The battle system looks to be like a slicker version of the active time battle system you’d find in Final Fantasy. You have four maneuvers, each one activated by holding on the directional buttons for Kay, or the face buttons with Yu. They both have the same maneuvers, but they can also join their attacks to really cause some damage. There’s also a Pokémon aspect to the battle system where you can calm down enemies after they’ve been weakened to go back to their peaceful selves.
After understanding a little bit more about the game’s core loop while continuing to explore, the demo abruptly ended.
They can’t leave us hanging like that, and we can’t wait to get our hands on more. Haven is expected to be released sometime this year on all major platforms, and you can download this demo on Xbox Live for a limited time.