While the idea of building a space colony hasn’t been trod upon quite as much from other genres, such as roguelikes or old school fps, it still is a popular genre that anybody who wants to break into needs to set themselves apart from, be it interesting new gameplay styles that are the invert of the norm or a unique world that the player wants to know more of. The massive Kickstarter success Space Haven, on the other hand, is not one of them, as the basis for it is fairly standard. However, Space Haven’s gameplay and survival elements are finely honed, and can still deliver and excellent time if you’re the person it was meant for.
You are a group of colonists, in the future where earth is destroyed and you must survive, by rebuilding a defunct spaceship, and setting off into the universe. While there isn’t much of a story per se, that’s not the main focus of the game. The game does pick up the slack in the form of notes and the like, as well as having a variety of different factions warring for dominance. Ultimately, the story is the one you create yourself, by naming the characters after irl friends, and forging your own path in the stars. This story sounds familiar, if not an exact copy of, stories you’ve heard dozens of times,
The game is a slow burner, and can be a bit frustrating at time due to some systems being convoluted, such as the process of getting hull blocks to make your ship larger, as well as the UI tending to switch between left clicking and right clicking to open smaller menus. However, once those nagging issues are over, the game does present a fun, yet challenging experience. The studio BugByte has perfected the art of slow burning yet rewarding games in their previous title Battlevoid and this goes the same here. Managing power, water and food supply, entertainment, and sleep are all hallmarks of the genre, and some would say to the point of being a repetitive cop out. This time, however, the process of building and maintaining the ship progresses slowly, and bases a greater emphasis on planning far into he future . It nails the loop of slowly working your way towards a new goal, and paying off. There is also combat, when you decide to salvage old ships for bits and parts, however it isn’t anything to write home about. It does provide a fun, break from the norm though, and isn’t the main focus anyways. I tended to just cut through monsters and pirates as if they were nothing.
That doesn’t mean the game is easy though, and resource management will be the main obstacle to battle with. The game does tend to be luck based, especially at the beginning with limited resources, but gradually opens up and begins to test the players skill at predicting the future rather than if karma was on their side that day.
The research tree is somewhat small and limited, but will hopefully be updated with a plethora of mechanics and new items.
Overall, the gameplay is nothing revolutionary, but is of a remarkably high quality, with lots of polish.
The game is meant look like older, pixelated strategy games, played from a top down perspective. Space Haven blends many different artstyles from different Sci Fi series. A little bit of cyberpunk here, cassette futurism there, and a bit of hard sci fi. Using a rich, vibrant color pallet allows the game to reach the full potential of its artstyle, as well as set the atmosphere of a dark, barely functioning spaceship in the beginning. I found the lighting effects particularly fantastic. The only thing that isn’t rendered in quite as much detail are the character and monster sprites, which can look somewhat generic looking. But the ship and the systems themselves all look and feel authentic, as if there are actual gears, pipes, and electric signals coursing through them. Overall the game is a beautiful game, especially considereing their previous games were plagued by rough, shoddy animation, and a bland generic artstyle.
The game is a work in progress, but has the potential to be a well done addition to the survival, base building genre. While it is a bit limited, the groundwork si there for BugByte to really put forward a quality title.