Developer: Mooneye Studios
Publisher: Fabien Weibel
Genre(s): Adventure, Casual, Exploration
Platform: Switch (also available on Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 05/08/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
So… I’m going to start this review off with a warning for friends or family members of those playing Haven Park. This game comes with a button that makes the main character say “pew”, and there is no cooldown. Left in the hands of the wrong person, this barrage of “pew pew pew pew pew” could drive you to levels of madness hitherto undiscovered.
That being said, Haven Park is great – so let’s take a look at why!
The Aim of the Game
At a first glance, Haven Park looks like an Animal Crossing-style game (find our thoughts on that game here!), and indeed it wears that inspiration proudly on its sleeve. However, it does have its own identity and style, rather than seeking to emulate it directly.
As the yellow chick Flint, you’re given responsibility over the family park by your grandmother. It’s up to you to restore the park to its former glory and bring visitors back. Along the way you’ll make friends and maybe learn a thing or two about enjoying life!
Where Animal Crossing spreads out its experience over days and even years, Haven Park lets you take it at your own pace, while keeping things tight and focused. The journey from beginning to end credits is not overly long; you’re probably looking at three to five hours, unless you’re in a rush.
Completion of all the camps and side objectives isn’t required for that either. Your goal is to follow the numbered signs until you’ve reached the end of the map, though a few quests are required to open up the way.
But let’s get down to basics. Haven Park tasks you with restoring the titular tourist destination, which means locating each campsite and building amenities. As you set up campfires and tents, visitors will arrive at each site with their own requirements. Occasionally they’ll have side objectives for you as well.
Visitors to the park are not really cut out for the camping life – none of them have brought their own tents or even food, so their lives are in your hands. Well, fine… not really anything that dramatic, but they will complain until you’ve given them somewhere to sleep! They’ll also request other features like food stands or entertainment.
The pacing is very gentle – guests may comment on a lack of certain things, but there’s no penalty for leaving them without. Instead, you’re free to wander to park and fix things at your leisure.
Finding the Time
That brings me onto the other main part of the game, which is resource-gathering. There are a few things scattered around for you to pick up, like wood, metal, or fabric. Most of these can be found lying on the ground, though some can be found in chests or collected from deserted vehicles.
Picking up items and other actions give you experience, which goes towards increasing your character level. With levels come skill points, which you can invest in talents to give you more resources, or speed up character movement.
Character movement didn’t feel too important or impactful to me at first, until I restarted the game. After less than a minute back at the default speed, I made it my main first objective that time around!
Similar to putting campsites together, I never really felt pressured to grind up levels or grab every possible resource. I took it at my own pace, and I feel that the game encourages this. The ambience is soothing, and even the dark of night feels gentle.
The side quests range from trivia questions to a text adventure, and there were enough to keep me occupied outside of the main quest without feeling cluttered. I emphasise this because I felt that was really the goal of the game – a peaceful way to pass time outside of the stress of regular life.
That being said, I should be clear that the game isn’t the longest. It’s not like Animal Crossing, where the experience is intended to carry through from day to day. Campsites aren’t huge, and what you can place, and where, is limited. It’s not an expensive game, though, so you’re getting your money’s worth.
The different characters you meet, with a few exceptions, aren’t as bold or memorable as those that visit your island in Animal Crossing. Additionally, the camera’s positioned quite high up, so some of the individual details on characters can be a bit hard to make out.
It would be a disservice not to mention how touching some of the encounters are, however, and conversations generally range between charming and comical. My only advice would be to keep an eye on what you’re picking up, as I upset a character early on and had no idea when I’d inconvenienced her.
Haven a Good Time
Overall, I can do nothing other than recommend Haven Park. It’s sweet, engaging, and a nice way to relax. The worst I can say about it is that I wish there was more.
Despite some rough edges here and there, it has heart with clear vision and execution. If you’re looking for a way to unwind in the evening or over a weekend, give Haven Park a try. Just keep some earplugs nearby if someone else is playing!
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Haven Park for the Nintendo Switch here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.