Pew pew! A little birdie told me that there is a campground in dire need of care and repair, pew! That little birdie is my grandma, and my name is Flint, and I am also a little birdie, pew pew! I’m going to do my best to fix up this park, and help my grandma, PEW PEW!
Thus begins the story of Haven Park, a slow-paced little RPG/adventure game that has players running around collecting materials, repairing broken infrastructure, and creating campsites in order to attract campers. There are twenty different campsites to find and design. Every time you discover a new one, a list of its required amenities will appear at the bottom of the screen.
There are several different categories of items: relaxation (things like campfires and benches), shelter (tents, cabins, etc.), food (stands that NPCs will purchase food from), activity (stuff for your campers to do: pools, swings, etc.), and decorations (fences, flowers, etc.).
At first, you’ll only be able to build a few things, but as you progress, gain XP, and level up, you’ll get points that you can invest in skills. One of those skills is Master Builder which expands the things you can create. Though, sometimes, it still doesn’t feel like enough.
It is, of course, up to the player what skills to unlock first: whether you want to run faster, carry more things, or find more resources. How you develop Flint is up to you.
Controls are easy as peasy-pie: A to interact, B to jump, and left stick to move. There are no camera controls, so players are at the mercy of the game’s top-down view. Sometimes this can leave you uselessly craning your neck because the thing you’re trying to see behind is inside your TV.
Once you’ve built a few things, campers—in the form of adorable animals—will start showing up. You can talk to these animals; some will merely comment on how lovely (or not so lovely) the area is, while others will give Flint quests. The quests will be stored in your handy notebook, along with the map and skills pages, but there is no indicator as to who gave you the quest. This means players will have to use their memory, and talk to everyone multiple times, in order to complete everything.
There were times when it felt mildly annoying that, once I finally gathered the required items for the quest, I couldn’t remember who gave it to me in the first place. It seems like such a simple thing: to have a quest NPC’s location indicated on the map.
Speaking of the map, it doesn’t offer a whole lot of actual help. It shows the campground numbers, and you can invest some skill points to upgrade the map, but this upgrade will only show the interesting landmarks in each spot. What it does not show is where quests are, or even where YOU are. These simple little things feel so strange when they are missing.
With all that said, Haven Park oozes charm, and part of that charm is the fact that it is a little more hands-off. The game really gives off the feeling that you are young and unsure, a bit overwhelmed with a large and daunting task, but you shoulder the burden to help your old grandma.
The game is visually cute and colourful, and the story is short but oh-so-sweet. Heartfelt, bittersweet, and soothing are three words that easily describe this game. The music comes in the form of ambient nature sounds: the crackling of a campfire, crickets chirping at night, it gives the game a worthy vibe.
Haven Park is short, but it’s worth your time and money.
Haven Park £6.99
Haven Park is the kind of game that will completely absorb you until several hours have passed and, suddenly, you’ve beaten the game! The story is warm and fuzzy and bittersweet, and if you’re a fan of a quaint, relaxing game don’t hesitate to put this one in your collection.