Haven Park | Review | Nintendo Switch

Developer: Bubble Studio
Publisher: Mooneye Studios
Release Date: 05/08/2021
Price: £6.99 / $7.99
Review code provided by Mooneye Studios
Version reviewed: 1.0.2

Introducing: Haven Park Review

Haven Park is a tiny exploration game and I’m a sucker for exploration in games. I like to explore so much that I often digress from the main quest line to the detriment of finishing a game within a reasonable time-frame. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to review Haven Park which, according to the blurb on Nintendo’s eshop, can be finished in just a few hours spent in its open world.

Making campers happy!

You are a young chick called Flint and your ageing grandmother passes the responsibility of looking after her camping park to you. You’re still a bit wet behind the ears, but after a short conversation you want to rise to the challenge. So, explore the park, find all the camping sites, repair what is broken and make sure to turn all visitors into happy campers. (Pun totally intended.) Oh, and don’t forget to meet up with your grandma regularly for a quick chat.

So, you set out from grandma’s front porch with approximate directions to the first of many camp-grounds in your heart. On the way you pick up mushrooms, wood, metal, fabric and coins. All of these are the resources you need to repair broken fences, signs and lamp posts which are scattered around the island. You also need the materials to create all of the facilities that make up the camps you discover. From tents to popsicle stands, from garlands to the central campfire, building and placing them is your job. While you take care of things, campers pay a visit. Each of them with their own wishes and stories. They tell you about hidden treasures, crashed planes or simply their desire to see some of the many sights of the island. Take care of your guests and you will grow. Not literally, but helping them out will give you experience which will let you level up. For each level you reach you are rewarded with skill points. Use them to unlock skills that will make you stronger, quicker or let you find more of the scarcely scattered resources. Don’t worry about skill points too much, however. There are enough to collect that you will have unlocked all skills when you advance to the highest level.

Cute to boot!

While Haven Park surely gives off A Short Hike vibes in both setting (both take place on islands) and story (exploration, life and family), its artstyle is thoroughly different. There is no pixel art, but a cutesy and colourful naturalistic style. It’s reduced without being minimalistic and works well on Switch both handheld and docked. There are some hiccups, but they do not impede your enjoyment.

Haven Park is a game nearly without music. In fact, what little music is present comes from radios built by you for your campsites. What you’ll mostly listen to while playing are environmental sounds: gurgling brooks, splashing waterfalls, chirping crickets, and etc. are your exploration’s soundtrack. Together with the artstyle it’s both pleasing and relaxing.

Conclusion

Haven Park is a wonderful game about growing up and into the responsibilities of life. It is a well-written and well-told story that has just the right length. You can invest more time to uncover each and every secret, but you aren’t forced to do so. Also you’ll notice that you cannot right all wrongs resulting from your decisions but have to live with their consequences.

PROS

  • relaxing gameplay
  • cute artstyle
  • great story

CONS

  • some small hiccups
  • it is a really short game

Verdict
Wholesome.