Games love to see the world end, let’s be honest as it’s a trope that just will not… well die (unlike the world). To be fair it opens the door on the what happens after the fall, which is often the most interesting bit. Batora: Lost Haven is the latest game to kill us all off and is from Italian studio Stormind Games. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, with most of the Earth destroyed after a mysterious event happened one day.
You play as Avril, a 16-years old girl, who is grieving the death of her older sister Rose due to this event. Avril and her friend Mila follow a strange voice in what is left of a city, discovering two amulets connected to two unknown entities, the Sun and the Moon. Both are then transported to Gryja, where it turns out Avril is “the chosen one” and has to bring balance back to four different planets, while also remembering to try and track down her mate Mila. Batora: Lost Haven is a surprisingly complexed and layered tale with branching narrative paths, and has four different endings to discover that are determined by your decisions over your play through. On the whole the game tells a compelling tale with solid writing for the most part only let down by what feels like a few forced jokes at times that jars with its serious tone.
Batora: Lost Haven’s gameplay is a mix bag of genres: part isometric twin stick shooter, part action adventure and a healthy dash of puzzler for good measure. You are basically the living avatar of the Sun and the Moon; which sees you having two move sets to master, with the Sun being your melee side and the Moon being your ranged side, and you’ll be juggling between then in battle as there is an Ikaruga system at work, where some enemies are weak to different move sets. Same goes for you as you have two health bars and depending on what element attack hits you and your selected move set, it may just give you a scratch or put you flat on your backside. Combat is fast and frantic and dodging will be your friend as the game likes to throw lots of nasties at you often in small areas, and you can’t get out till you defeat them, so you need to often think on your toes.
The camera system in Batora: Lost Haven can be problematic in the heat of a fight, it has two settings far out and close up, so you can often miss enemies or incoming attacks depending on where you have it set. Also controls are “different” let’s say… a mix of stick and face buttons to pull off attacks but the stick side gets messy when unleashing melee attacks. It also doubles for direction movement, but you do get a few upgrades that take the edge off this issue. When not fighting you’ll be solving more than a few puzzles that really help to break things up and pace out the adventure and they also make good use of the Sun and Moon system to often find the solution.
Visually the game looks great with some brilliant world design on show, backed up by some interesting and memorable character designs from Avril herself, to the hordes of beasts you’ll battle. Batora: Lost Haven is a cracking title delivering a fun and engaging gameplay loop, all set in a world or two of wonder. There is well written and weighted tale that only makes a few missteps along the way, but even they don’t dull its overall impact.
An Xbox review copy of Batora: Lost Haven was provided by Stormind Games PR team, and the game is available now on PC, Xbox, Switch and PlayStation for around £25.