• Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

Breaking down the 3 sides of gameplay in Haven

ByASNF

Oct 9, 2020

Fugitive lovers in space

I like to pitch Haven as “Romeo and Juliet, but they survived and escaped to a deserted planet to live together.” But that doesn’t say much about the gameplay. So I would like to share more about your experience as you play the game — what you actually get to do.

The game experience in Haven is created by the intersection of three systems:

  1. Exploration through gliding
  2. Combat
  3. Preparing for your next expedition in the Nest

The story is told during these three types of gameplay sequences. But let’s dive a little deeper in these systems.

Gliding over the tall grass

In a Japanese RPG, what we call “traversal gameplay” is usually pretty simple. You just move your character without any challenge, until you start a fight or reach your destination. With Haven, we wanted to reinforce the feeling of being a couple, even during exploration. We wanted to make it feel relaxing, beautiful and fun. Going down a ski slope with a friend can really feel like that. Gliding over the tall grass is Haven’s version of skiing together. 

In order to explore the planet, you follow “Flow threads” that will fill your boots and gauntlets with Flow, the natural energy that powers pretty much everything in their world. It’s also used to get rid of the Rust, the red crust that corrupts the planet and creatures. Gather Flow, clean the Rust and discover resources: food or medicinal plants, materials for combat or to repair the Nest (your spaceship/home), or even souvenirs and items for your home. 

Following a Flow thread is usually as chill as going down a simple ski slope, but sometimes you can find more difficult ones that will require to drift, and anticipate tight turns. 

Exploration by gliding will also open up new “bridges” that connect one floating fragment to another, and allow you to reach new areas. 

Combat and pacify rusted creatures

While exploring the fragments of the planet, you might encounter aggressive creatures and have to fight them. Combat is, again, thought of as a couple’s experience. It’s pretty much necessary to coordinate Yu and Kay’s attacks, or have them protect each other.

Combat happens in real-time, but you charge orders by holding buttons. Sometimes you have to react quickly to shield yourself, sometimes you have to time an attack performed by both characters, and sometimes it’s better to chain attacks, one weakening the creature and the other dealing the heavy damage.

That combat system is thought to make you want to optimize your chain of actions so that everything flows, a bit like in a rhythm game. When you’ve found the right pace, it feels very satisfying to chain actions one after the other, minimizing the hits taken and maximising the damage to the rusted creatures. 

At the end of the fight, the creatures are “pacified,” meaning they are cleaned from the rust and they go back to a peaceful state. 

Cuddle and prepare for your next expedition

Eventually, you need to go back to your ship to either heal yourself, cook some tasty meals or bring back the stuff you found. The ship is called The Nest for a good reason: it’s a place for nesting. 

In the Nest you can craft different things: cures for improving your health, combat capsules that’ll prove helpful against the rusted creatures, and of course you can cook delicious meals.

As the characters have meals, they are not hungry anymore (when they are hungry they complain and are less efficient in combat). But most importantly, cooking and having meals together is the time for bonding. Cooking, sharing a good meal and taking a little break is when they grow, as characters and as a couple. It develops their relationship, and leads to levelling up. 

In Haven, you won’t gain that many experience points in combat, you gain more by just spending good time together. That really makes Haven different, as it’s usually skipped in RPGs. You never see your heroes in their intimity. In Haven, you do. 

Be with them at all times

The story is a key element in Haven’s game experience. Are they going to settle quietly on that deserted planet? Will the Apiary find them and come to separate them? 

But the pace of the story comes from that intertwined game experience of gliding together to explore the valleys of planet Source, fighting and pacifying creatures and coming back home for resting, cocooning and preparing the next expedition. All in all, Haven’s game experience is about living with Yu and Kay, every minute of their adventurous daily life.

We’re hard at work to finish the game and we will soon be able to let you know when you can play Haven, so stay posted!