Haven Park is, I reckon, one of the most relaxing games I’ve played in ages. Wandering around an island with no jeopardy, finding materials, fixing stuff, discovering and setting up camps while talking to the other residents of the island, all the while helping out your grandmother… it’s incredibly soothing. And while you won’t get many hours out of this, it’ll be worth picking up just for those moments when you need to unwind, breath slowly and just let the sounds of nature wash over you.
The very thin story is easy to pick up – your grandmother’s island, named Haven Park, is quite run down thanks to her not being able to maintain it in her old age. It’s up to you, a young chicken, to head out and explore with the purpose of patching everything up again. You’ll find several camps around the island, at which point a little more of your map is unveiled to help you find your way round. Signposts need fixing, but doing so will show you which way to go to new or tricky areas. Lampposts can be repaired to help to light the way when it gets dark, and fences can be patched up to make it harder to fall off a cliff. It doesn’t matter if it’s dark at night, or if you plummet 200 feet down a mountain – no harm will come of you. There’s no monsters, no fall damage, no drowning or getting eaten by sharks. So you’re free to just meander round the park, discovering new things and meeting the various creatures who turn up at your camps looking for somewhere to sleep, something to eat or some entertainment. And you’ll help with that, by finding resources like wood and metal to build tents, wooden cabins, barbeques and even a Ferris wheel if you so choose.
It’s up to you how you build up each camp. You can stay at one and get it looking great, or move around more quickly and find them all first. Some camps are tough to get to – you need to repair bridges, rebuild a cable car or get into a castle by persuading a snowman to give you a crown – but eventually you’ll reach the last one, have a final talk to your grandmother then just have however much time you want to finish off your business around the park.
It doesn’t sound like much, and in many ways it isn’t (my 8 year old finished the main story in four sittings,and the camp building could be more developed) but if you enjoy just spending time in lovely surroundings, in a peaceful game that won’t punish you for taking your time, or making a mistake, or going out at night, then this could be right up your street. Anyone can play it, everyone can enjoy it, and it’s just the ticket if you’re feeling a bit tense. It’s best not to expect anything too deep or lengthy though, so if short games don’t agree with you then this won’t float your boat.
Reviewed on Switch