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Haven Park review for Nintendo Switch, PC


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Mooneye Studios
Developer: Mooneye Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

The problem with Haven Park is that it’s much too easy to think about it in terms of what it’s not. It’s a game where you’re playing as an animal and sprucing up an island to make it more attractive to visitors – but it’s not Animal Crossing. Likewise, it’s a cute game about a bird going through some family stuff (while, again, exploring an island) – but it’s not A Short Hike.

Whatever Haven Park has going for it – and it does have its fair share of good qualities – having a distinctive identity isn’t one of those things.

Which is unfortunate, because it’s a pretty delightful game, once you get past how liberally it borrows from those other games. Playing as a yellow bird named Flint, you’re trying to restore your grandma’s campground/park to its former glory. That involves wandering around an island and gathering resources, then stumbling across old camp sites and adding in all the conveniences you can build. As a few campers show up, you can add more, but the demands are never so great that you feel like you’re constantly in a cycle of resource-gathering and building.

The other neat thing is that there are a few puzzles to solve and treasures to uncover. While none of them are particularly difficult, they give you a reason to explore the island beyond simply gathering more resources. While these little finds don’t always necessarily impact the story in a meaningful way, they still give the island character and make it feel like Haven Park is more than just the gameplay loop mentioned above.

The one drawback to the game – apart from how much it borrows from those other two games mentioned above – is that the map makes absolutely no sense. It only fills in areas once you’ve discovered a new campsite, which means that it’s kind of useless for figuring out where you are if you’re in a new region of the island. While I understand the game doesn’t want to spoil anything, at the same time, there’s a massive chunk of the map that you can’t uncover until you’re at the very end of the story, and missing that chunk makes it very easy to get lost.

But given how cute the game is and how short it is (you can easily finish it in a few hours), it’s hard to get too upset about a bit of aimless wandering. Haven Park isn’t going to make you forget its influences – and you should definitely play those other games before playing this one, since they’re both much better – but it’s still enjoyable enough that if you’ve got a few hours to spare and want to play something charming and wholesome, it’ll do the trick.

Mooneye Studios provided us with a Haven Park Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+