Mar 26, 2013

Shattered Haven Review

Lights Off
3 Okay
Retails for: $9.99
We Recommend: $5.99
  • Developer: Arcen Games, LLC
  • Publisher: Arcen Games
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
  • Released: Mar 18, 2013
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

Arcen Games has made a diverse collection of games, including their newest, Shattered Haven. The game is an interesting mix of survival elements with puzzle solving using the environment. Oh, and there’s zombies. But this time, done in a meaningful way and create a sense of fear and tension when they’re around.

The story picks up a whole nine years after the incident that created the zombies, well “The Grays” as they are called here. Which, I found to be more menacing and less self-aware as a whole. Calling them “zombies” here would be a disservice and diminish the overall feel the game is going for. Over time, they’ve learned that the grays are vulnerable to fire, water and iron.

The Williams family has survived this whole time without incident. The family of Darrell the father, Mary the mother, and Leia the daughter. They were safe until a mysterious boy by the  name of Pierce came to their residence. You see, Pierce has lost his mother, but he doesn’t remember much of what happened and had to escape the grays.  It’s an emotional story told through text and voice acting. Still images accompany the words as the cutscene. Emotional text based story told with still images.

Of course, there’s an actual game to this, where supernatural things are going on. There are nine overworlds, and many repeatable dungeon-like areas to get a better score. The terrain is wild, where nature has been unkempt all these years. So you’ll have to gather tools to survive and fight with. You maintain an inventory, where a shovel will fill in holes so you don’t fall through them, or a scythe to cut through weeds. You’ll also find things like iron tacks in the environment to place in front of the grays to damage or kill them. As you’d expect, weapons degrade over time and you’ll be able to assign weapons to any button you desire.

Goals don’t always appear in the goals section, hidden in the dialogue. Some arrows show you where you can go from your current screen, and the world scrolls like a darker Zelda game. If you don’t have a recent save, you can resort to a suicide pill, for if you’re stuck? That I’m not sure to as its purpose, but after using it you are reset to the beginning of the level.

The game can be controlled with a keyboard and mouse, or with a gamepad. Each can be customized, and can be mixed and matched with another player for local co-op. The game looks best when not using your native resolution, so you’ve. Reminiscent of a NES or Super NES game, that didn’t exist.

Voice acting is generally pretty bad, really to the point where I’d rather just read the dialogue. The music is dark, and often times charming, but repeats often.

To the developer’s credit, Shattered Haven is listening to everything the community has to say and have been updating the game frequently.

Even with Shattered Haven’s interesting story, survival elements, and characters, I wasn’t attached to them or anything that happened. I don’t have a better way of making it work better, but it just doesn’t come together like I expected. The gameplay works and has pretty good combat, the environmental puzzles are smart if not a bit repetitive.

A Steam code was provided by the developer for review purposes