There are games that just perfectly embody the very meaning of wholesome and Haven Park is certainly one of them.
You play the game as an adorable little guy called Flint, a bird tasked with the challenge of taking care of a natural park. Flint’s family has been managing the park for generations and now it’s his turn to take over and restore it to its full glory. This task is passed to the protagonist by his grandmother and there’s a sweet story to be unraveled by following her steps that brings the emotional core of the game to light.
Fixing the park is much more than the simple act of physical reconstruction. It speaks of an emotional connection to this special place. It doesn’t take long before the player sees this park as Flint does and to be really invested in seeing it fully restored.
Haven Park expertly combines two key elements: exploration and resource management. Despite being a short game, Haven Park offers a delightful world to be explored, full of curious details and clear care in the creation of all its nooks and crannies. It’s by exploring the park that you will also find all manner of resources needed to set up the several camping grounds dotted across the island.
These camping locations are fun to create and they will quickly be filled with campers for Flint to meet. These campers have different personalities and some may even offer the player quests that can range from trivia quizzes to a really hard play of hide-and-seek. All the camping grounds will be registered on Flint’s map, which is one of the parts of the game that I think has room for improvement to better help the player.
Besides creating cool havens for your visitors, the player can fix several of the run-down elements of the park such as street lamps or fences. I found myself getting excited by the smallest of upgrades I was making. But truth be told, in the vast majority of the time I was playing Haven Park, I couldn’t help but smile and feel joyful. And, for me, that speaks volumes of the way this game was created. It feels like a game made to give joy to players and it fantastically delivers on that goal.
Fabien Weibel is the sole creator of Haven Park. He decided to develop it as a personal project during the lockdown of early 2020. It’s easy to see how the crushing spirit of the pandemic has sparked a need for an ideal place of refuge and respite. More than 1000 hours later, Haven Park was born, the first game developed by Weibel. I found this story fascinating and if you find it too, I urge you to go read this very interesting article by the creator himself behind his development process for the game.
Haven Park was originally meant to be published without any support. But a little while before the initial planned release, Mooneye Studios offered a partnership with Weibel to publish his game and thus Haven Park found a publishing home.
If, while reading this, you thought that this game was clearly inspired by indie darling A Short Hike and pandemic superstar Animal Crossing, please know that is stated by the creator himself. Those games are direct inspirations and yet, Haven Park doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be a copy of anything out there. It has a unique feeling to it not only by its mechanics and overall sentiment but also thanks to its infinitely charming visuals that I fell in love with.
I found it to be a game that knows what it wants to be and is proud of it. It knows its own limitations and works with them. As a player, I actually find it refreshing when a game doesn’t oversell itself for what it is and delivers exactly what promises.
I don’t know about you but I am happy that there are games like Haven Park out there.
Haven Park is available on: