Batora: Lost Haven | PC Review
Batora: Lost Haven, developed by Stormind Games and published by Team17 is an isometric action RPG. It is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, and for the purpose of my review I was playing the Windows PC version.
Batora: Lost Haven puts you in the role of Avril, a young girl who lives in the ruins of London. Avril wakes up after having some bizarre dreams relating to the end of the world. Avril then discovers that she is now on a journey to becoming a hero and has been named the “Keeper of Balance”. This role has been imbued to her through two gods, that are known as Sun and Moon, and the aim as the “Keeper of Balance” is to help fix the Earth. To achieve this goal, Avril has to travel across different planets and repair the cores of these planets, ultimately saving her home from total annihilation. Certain choices that you make throughout the game will impact the story and making choices of a certain nature will also impact Avril’s level and allow you to branch out your character's build in other unexpected ways; alongside this, there are multiple endings that you can play through that vary depending on these choices. Whilst there are choices to make, there is no real clear-cut “good” or “evil” path, one path is known as “conqueror” and the other is known as “defender” - one focuses on rash decisions driven by pure instinct, the other driven by compassion and kindness; so, take the choices with whatever viewpoint you prefer, not simply what is inherently “good” or “bad”.
Initially, the combat in Batora: Lost Haven felt quite stale. I say initially because this feeling quickly left as certain things became apparent to me and began to make sense. As the Keeper of Balance, you’ll have the power of both the Sun God and the Moon God to help you. These powers are something that you can swap between in a simple click of a button, and switching between the two is necessary between most fights. Some enemies will have a yellow health bar, and others will have a purple health bar, meaning that they are weak to either the Sun attacks or the Moon attacks. Once this idea became integrated into the game, I instantly began to enjoy the combat more than originally, and this stale feeling left for me. The boss fights in particular to me felt really enjoyable and a genuine challenge, as the bosses weren’t simply weak to one type of damage for the duration of the fight, and instead, I was having to switch which powers I was using repeatedly to make sure I was doing optimum damage. Being new to mouse and keyboard, I was quite concerned with how the twin-stick, isometric view would work for me in this setting, however it actually worked really well for me and didn’t take long for me to master. The combat to an extent really felt very reminiscent of V Rising which is a game I have spent a lot of time on and was the first PC game I ever played, so perhaps a portion of my enjoyment of Batora: Lost Haven was that sense of familiarity and nostalgia from my early days as a PC owner (not like that was terribly long ago).
Throughout, there are also puzzles to solve, which I found to be wonderful. The puzzles simply use the mechanics of the Sun and Moon powers rather than involving new and convoluted mechanics, which is another big plus for me. They were logical and made sense instead of feeling ridiculous and obscure just for no reason. Sometimes they can even be avoided entirely if it just isn’t gelling with you. For example, there is one puzzle where there is a riddle attached. You could choose to just ignore the riddle and try to solve it with trial and error, or you could use the riddle to figure it out, or you could just opt to use your powers and skip the puzzle altogether.
Batora: Lost Haven really was a bit of an unexpected delight for me. It isn’t overly challenging in a frustrating sense, but is challenging enough to remain fresh and for me to have somehow lost my entire day to the game, which is absolutely no critique. Initially, the game wouldn’t open due to an Unreal Engine error, however, after a fresh install, the game worked perfectly fine and ran like a dream throughout. The combat system really is excellent and kept me constantly engaged rather than just picking my favourite combat method and sticking to it throughout, instead I was forced to adapt and get used to both combat systems. The storytelling was excellent, and I didn’t just feel engrossed in the gameplay, but also felt like I actually cared for the plot and the fate of the characters.
Lj’s Rating: 4 out of 5.
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