Haven Park is a charming adventure exploration game where you take on the role of Flint — an adorable little kid (chick?) who is trying to come to terms with the responsibility of taking care of his grandma's park.
What first drew me in about this indie title was the fact that it's so similar to A Short Hike — from the "vibes" to the graphics; I just loved it! I'm always on board with trying out more titles that give me the same feeling of relaxing fulfilment that I originally felt when I completed A Short Hike.
That being said, although Haven Park eventually grew into its shoes and opened up a beautiful and emotional journey for me, the beginning was terribly sluggish. I feel that the game doesn't properly explain to you what to do, so I assumed you just ran around collecting materials and building up camps to make the park pretty. Although, for the most part, you do collect a bunch of stuff from the world to decorate and set camps, there are other things you have to do, and it is absolutely not as straightforward as I had originally assumed!
As you walk around the area, you'll find a ton of broken things (such as lamp posts, signs, and vehicles) that you have to fix up by using the materials you collected. This — along with other activities you can do, such as just decorating the camps or finding chests — will give Flint XP so he can level up and acquire new skills. They're not necessary, and you don't have to level up in order to unlock any new areas, but they do help a ton to speed up the building of the campsites around the park, which will allow you to chat with new campers. Additionally, the perks help to lessen the grind of getting wood.
The game's main objective is to walk around looking for campsites and fill them with amenities to attract more campers. You'll find a ton of them scattered throughout the island, and your goal is to find them all until you reach the last one at the peak to meet your grandma. Although I did enjoy scouring the map to find them all, the building aspect left a lot to be desired, especially at first when I thought the title was mostly about decorating! You've got five categories you have to fulfil per camp, which include things like resting area, food area, and decor. Each one has a set amount of furniture you can use, and as far as I can tell, there's no limit. Unfortunately, there aren't too many to choose from, and the areas are pretty small. This means that all the camps start looking alike quite quickly.
That being said, one of the things that Haven Park did the best is the sense of exploration. Whilst at first I didn't see it due to my misunderstanding of what the game is about, once I got into the proper flow, I found myself really excited about finding all the camps and completing all the hidden-object-style quests. The park has a ton of hidden chests around (they only give you materials, unfortunately, but they're still fun to collect), and the campers will send you out on missions to find landmarks, such as sunken ships; this did a great job of keeping me excited about walking around the map discovering new things, and quickly made up for the lack of depth in the camp decorating!
And lastly, there isn't really a story here. Flint gets told he's next in line to care for the camp, and he sets off to get used to the idea and figure out how it's all going to work out. Outside of that, the stories are really within the history of the park itself and the campers that visit it. I didn't feel like it needed more depth in the narrative, as the gameplay does wonders to keep you hooked anyway!
All in all, Haven Park was an absolute joy; highly recommended that you 100% it. The achievements are fun, and it adds quite a bit to the gameplay to hunt them out!
Haven Park (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Haven Park is an easy recommendation for anyone who likes relaxing and adventurous indie titles! You just need to stick to it past the beginning and into the flow.