Haven Park is easily one of my favourite gaming experiences of 2021. Everything is does exudes a bright, feel good simplicity to it. Fans of A Short Hike, which has a similar vibe, will feel at home here but Haven Park deserves the same kind of critical and hopefully commercial aplomb. This is chill out gaming at its finest.
You play as Flint whose inheriting Haven Park from his grandma. She’s not been able to keep it in good condition though and although Flint is young, she’s entrusting the park to him to clean up and grow it. This sets in motion a simple gameplay loop. You’ll wander around the park, uncovering your map of it and collecting resources as you go. Resources are plentiful and cover wood, metal, fabric, mushrooms and coins. You’ll need these to fix things like fences, lights and bridges to progress further in the game and generally tidy things up.
The resources also come in handy for when you find campsites. Here, you can use the resources to build attractions for your camp. The selection is small but exceptionally cute. Pop down tents, little houses, umbrellas, radios, BBQ’s, food trucks, swimming pools and the fabled Ferris wheel. You can drop and rotate them anywhere inside the camp’s area and arrange it exactly how you like. This brings in a few tourists that will stay around and use the camp, dishing out a few side quests whilst you explore elsewhere.
The whole park is a delight to traverse. There is a beautiful verticality to it that means you’ll see things in the corner of a screen and think ‘how do I get there?’ It’ll only be a minutes walk away at best but the way the park meanders around creates stunning views. Add to that a day/night cycle that gives orange sunsets and sunrises, brilliant blue skies and water and dark nights with firefly lamps – its a joy to be part of. Movement is great too and there are some surprises with the side quests and bonuses that open up the park even further – even post end game too. I love how different areas have their own look and feel and it feels cohesive as a whole too. The developer says they plan to add more to the game post launch and you can see areas that look fenced off as a tease for the future. Haven Park is already stunning as is, more of it can only be a good thing.
Whilst I’d have liked one or two more buildings to plonk down, the game itself is perfectly paced. It is one of the ultimate chill out games of all time in my humble opinion. The only issues I experienced were tourists getting stuck occasionally and a vehicle glitching out on me. That aside, its heart-warming coming of age story told in a park that carries all four seasons in a 5 minute walk and swim that I have stayed with long after the game ended. A genuine indie classic is born.
Haven Park is a beautiful and enchanting place to explore.
Light park management makes the resource collection have a grander aim.
Quirky characters and a variety of side quests to keep you entertained.
Those wave graphics make my stress melt away - as does the vibe and soundtrack.
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