by August 26, 2021 @ 8:30 am
Reviewed on Switch
We’ve been seeing more and more wholesome games pop up in recent years. These titles are meant to evoke different feelings in players, from joy to sorrow and everything in between, and they’re very contemplative experiences. Haven Park from developer Fabien Weibel is one of the more recent wholesome games to pop up, and it’s a curious little gem that acts as both a relaxing and meditative game that’s just really nice to play.
A Medium Hike
You play as Flint, a young chick tasked with renovating some campgrounds that were previously run by his grandmother, who had to stop tending to them as she got a little older. Right from the get-go, you get the idea that Flint is somewhat timid and fearful of following in his grandma’s footsteps, but he takes her words with him everywhere he goes and remembers to simply try his best. Though the relationship between Flint and his grandmother is only explored in a few sequences, the dialogue in those parts establishes a nice bond between the two characters.
Haven Park will likely remind you of A Short Hike, and that’s to be expected as that game was one of the inspirations for Weibel along with the Animal Crossing series. Story-wise, Haven Park is a little meditative, though not outright like A Short Hike. You’ll interact with NPCs, and the dialogue gives a glimpse at Flinch’s emotions, but the game doesn’t get too deep into his troubles and anxieties. That’s fine, though, because the little bits and pieces of character-building that the game does provide have a very emotional payoff in the end.
As you move through and interact with the game world in Haven Park, you can’t help but feel relaxed because the game is just meant to be as stress-free as possible. Every time you discover a new camping site, you’ll have to add shelter such as tents and cabins, benches, hot dog stands, food trucks, and even Ferris wheels. This will result in more characters populating the area.
In order to build these attractions, you’ll need resources including wood, steel, fabric, and so on. Thankfully, the campgrounds aren’t lacking in resources. Exploring the area will usually yield whatever you might need to get a site set up. And while you make your way to the next site, you’re likely to pick up a lot more resources along the way.
There are a few optional side missions in Haven Park. Some characters will ask you to find specific items for them, play hide and seek with you, and even quiz you on some campground historical knowledge. These brief moments of respite from the main game can be neat little diversions, and they give you more reasons to wander around campgrounds looking for goodies.
As fun as the gameplay loop in Haven Park may be, there are times when some of the collection-based quests lose a bit of their luster. It’s not that any of these parts are necessarily bad — it’s just that they take you away from the more enjoyable objectives.
A Joyful and Contemplative Outdoor Adventure
Getting to the end of Haven Park takes about four to five hours. You can expect to spend an extra hour or two doing all the side objectives. So it’s a little longer than A Short Hike, but it still never feels like it overstays its welcome. This is the very definition of a wholesome game, and the five hours you’ll spend with it definitely feel like time well spent.
Aesthetically, Haven Park has a lot in common with other similar “chill vibe” games like Button City as well as the aforementioned A Short Hike and Animal Crossing. This is a nice-looking game that’s quaint, cheery, and easy on the eyes. The sound design is fairly relaxed, too, and it’s filled with mostly nature sounds that accompany you as you explore the hiking trails and campgrounds, in addition to a few quirky little jingles here and there.
Haven Park is one of those games that knows what it wants to do, so it sets out to do that thing and succeeds. It’s a fun little task-based game with some emotional beats, and it’s just really nice. If you’re looking for the next wholesome game to spend an evening playing, look no further than Haven Park.
Score: 8 out of 10
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