A Not-so-lengthy Romp
One of my favourite games of 2020 was a small indie title called A Short Hike. That and Animal Crossing serve as the main inspiration behind Haven Park and the developers haven’t been shy about it. In Haven Park, you play as Flint, a little bird (…possibly a Kiwi?) who takes over a camping resort that his elderly grandmother has been taking care of for years. Unfortunately, Flint’s grandma has gotten to where she can’t really keep up with it anymore and the resort has seen better days. So, she tasks you with restoring it to its former glory.
There are 12 campsites across the map. Each site is more or less barren when you first discover them. You start by building a campfire in the middle of a circle of stones present at each site. Once that’s done, a camper will arrive and you will need to build several different structures (tents, BBQ, benches, etc.) to keep them happy.
You can pick and choose which ones you would like to build at each site. These are built by using resources that you find as you explore the island. These resources include: wood, metal, fabric, mushroom, and coins. A display at the bottom of the screen tells you which type of items are needed to make the camper(s) happy and more campers appear (up to 3 depending on the site) as you build up the campgrounds. There are also streetlamps, signposts, torches, and fences to repair spread throughout the map.
A tiny exploration game
As you talk to the campers, some will give you quests. These can be as simple as a fetch quest or may result in an island-wide game of hide-n-seek. Some campers may mention a rumour of hidden treasure or a crashed plane and ask you to investigate for proof. And some campers will simply congratulate you on a wonderful job restoring the park. There are other quests not tied to campers. One of my personal favourites is a storybook that turns into a “choose your own adventure” that also sends you on a hunt for items to help you progress through the book.
There isn’t much I can complain about in Haven Park, but as with most games, there are a couple of flaws. First is the lack of background music. Most of the soundtrack consists of ambient noise such as birds chirping, babbling brooks, etc. While this does make for a relaxing setting, some light music would’ve definitely helped. Fortunately, as of this writing, Fabien Weibel and Mooneye Studios have just announced their first patch that will add background music. It’s always great to see a developer listen to its community.
A smaller complaint I have would be the camera. While not always a problem, there are times where you’ll be behind a ledge or tree or other obstacle and are unable to see Flint. This leads to a complaint about the movement. For the most part, it’s fine. But it can be all too easy for Flint to get hung up on a tree or rock, bringing him to a complete stop. And when you can’t see your character, it makes it all the more frustrating.
While there are a couple of minor issues, overall Haven Park is a wonderful and charming experience. The map is big enough to explore, but small enough that you don’t become overwhelmed. The campsite building is simple and fun. The quests are engaging and while some are a bit simple, they make for a good break between restoring the campgrounds. The story, while short, is extremely heartwarming and beautiful. Oh! And if you press the A button, Flint will make a “Pew” noise that is one of the most adorable things ever in a video game. At the price of a mere $8.99/£6.99, I can wholeheartedly recommend Haven Park if you’re looking for something short, fun, and relaxing.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 05/08/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, RPG, Puzzle
Developer: Fabien Weibel
Publisher: Mooneye Studios
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop