There was a time once when the oceans were full of only fish and whales. Beautiful mermaids would swim freely without the fear of banging into driftwood or having a plane crash on them. Times have changed, and YYZ has brought us Havendock to reflect on the different times that the world is in today. Do you have the skills to not only survive a wreck but thrive from it and let others thrive with you? Well, I guess it’s time to find out for me. Pretty sure I’ll need some supplies, so it’s a packed lunch and a waterproof coat ready, and time to wash myself up on a little piece of land.
Havendock – for those whose favourite colour is maroon.
Havendock has its work cut out if it’s going to make an impact on the masses of settlement building games. The pressure certainly is on in this category, but it’s early days yet, so let’s dive in and see what is good, and what is not.
Havendock starts the way one would expect, learn the controls and the mechanics. This comes as no surprise, so I was up and running quickly, crafting and placing, and researching in no time. The premise is quite simple, expand your area, get more people and keep them happy. I’ll tackle each aspect one at a time.
Crafting and expanding. OK, I know, that is two categories, but they are linked. You start off getting driftwood and leaves out of the ocean to build a larger platform. Where you can build is restricted so you can’t just go crazy. You can grab some of the fish as well in case you’re hungry. Build a workbench and start researching to build more and more objects. Put down some farms to grow better food and provide resources, and build homes for your population to stay in, or rocks for them to sleep in. The more you research the more you can build. Keep expanding, and keep building.
Increase your population. This is achieved once you have built a dock. The ramshackle craft will appear at the dock with people on them. these people will have a set of demands (the cheeky gits) that need to be met before they will join you. Simply give them what they want and provide a house for them, and lo and behold, a new citizen/worker.
Keep your population happy. Make sure that you feed and water your population or they will become weary and their efficiencies will plummet through the floor. Keep an eye on their demands and meet as many as possible.
That all sounds simple, doesn’t it? Citizens can be assigned workstations to keep the progress flowing well. Put one at the scuba hut to get sand, put one at the smelter to make glass and have one at the storage shed to ummm…… store it. You don’t need to manually assign tasks, you can alter the priority list to make sure that all the population are being useful. Essentially automate the important bits like cooking and getting water and life will be easier.
I found Havendock to be very tricky to get into, the gameplay itself is great, but to be good was actually hard work. This is exactly what I want from a game though, I don’t want a pointless experience that doesn’t test my logic at all. I was at least three attempts in before I managed a good start and everything was where I wanted it and my processes were flowing smoothly. If you do make erroneous decisions about placement, you can always move and rotate objects.
The more you expand, the more world buildings you can interact with as well, these all provide benefits to your community. Bigger is always better in Havendock. Make good use of the technology tree when researching, there is a lot to discover to make life a lot easier. There is a gentle pace that provides a peaceful experience. The workers never really seem to be in a rush, and that seems to seamlessly pass on to the player. Nothing is really that important, surely!
Graphics & Audio
Havendock has a very cartoon feel to it, it kind of suits the game. The humour that has been scattered throughout the game is simply enhanced. I loved the slouched teenager look for the disgruntled unhappy workers. Everything you see is clearly identifiable, though I seemed to spend too much time seeing fire. I did admire it briefly before extinguishing it.
The soundtrack to Havendock is very much in keeping with the chilled feel of the game. Lulling you into a peaceful journey of saving shipwrecked people and building a community. Life really hasn’t ever thrown a tougher task at you with such a gentle and peaceful environment. Let all your troubles and woes ease away and watch Tater Tot and Sailor Joe dive for sand and make glass like a well-oiled team. What could be more peaceful? Well, it won’t last!! The horn from an incoming boat will soon snap you out of it. There really is no excuse for missing a boat arriving.
Havendock is the kind of game that you can drop in and out of, or dedicate hours to. There is a lot of competition out there, but there is a real charm to playing. The will to succeed is strong and generally all obstacles and bad decisions can be overcome with clever planning and thought. The versatility of moving items around once placed does detract a little from the various approaches you can have. No real need to try the game too many times. The relaxed feel makes it easy to return to unwind in the evening after a stressful day in the office.
Havendock brings a charm to the genre, and a different approach to the game style. In my opinion, there isn’t anything to not like about it, but there is a lack of content and ideas at the moment. There are many directions that YYZ can take the mission, and with an expected exit from early access in 2024, there is plenty of time for Havendock to really become something big. I will be playing for a long time yet.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
(although based on their experience, the author also purchased the game)