Batora: Lost Haven is the latest game coming out from Stormind Games, the developers behind the horror title, Remothered: Tormented Fathers and its follow up Remothered: Broken Porcelain.
While those were a grim psychological survival horror, Batora: Lost Haven is an colorful action RPG that takes players to multiple planets. These two games couldn’t be much further apart, but can Stormind Games break out of their survival horror roots to provide a strong ARPG experience?
Batora: Lost Haven
Developer: Stormind Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows (Reviewed), PlayStation Consoles, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Consoles
Release Date: October 20, 2022
Price: $??? USD
Batora: Lost Haven opens up to a grim prospect with half of Earth essentially Thanos snapped out of existence. It’s a post apocalyptic world where main character Avril lives in, yet remains surprisingly upbeat about the situation.
The tone of the writing immediately clashes with the setting when she’s out making jokes based on the ruined situation they’re living in, which makes it hard to believe her anguish during later parts of the story. She’s joined with her friend Mila as they’re on the search for something beckoning Avril in a dream.
This eventually leads to her finding what will connect her with the gods of the world, sun and moon, where the girl becomes the chosen one to journey and save Earth. This is a very simple premise which spends a lot of time establishing her character, whatever little there is, to the players.
Shortly after the tutorial sequence is where we arrive on the first world of many throughout this journey. This quickly shows off the beauty of Batora: Lost Haven from the landscapes of these alien worlds. You’ll travel through different biomes that range from rocky mining caves to harsh deserts, freezing mountain tops, and even grimy swamps – all of which are rendered solidly in this game.
As you go through the game’s story, it seems to be rather locked on rails though. It would’ve been nice to more fully explore some of these worlds Avril finds her adventures on, but instead most of the time is spent going from point A to point B as the game’s quest log updates.
Batora: Lost Haven is closer to an action adventure title with RPG elements, rather than a role playing game. While there are choices to be made, the game follows down a rather linear path through its maps. There were no side quests and little reason to explore as chances are you’d see everything as if as you travel from each point during the main story.
While decisions do vary in what they call the “guardian” and “conqueror” sides, it ultimately doesn’t feel like it matters much in changing the story itself. Most events that occur were going to happen regardless of whether Avril chooses to help someone or make a decision in killing someone, or sparing a life.
Half the time these choices boil down to whether you want to be nice or a jerk. Though its effects on the story feel lacking, they do also have their impact when it comes to gameplay. Most of the stats you can modify for Avril come in the form of runes, items that do things such as give her more health points or attack.
A smart theme with these runes that travel across the game’s various themes with balance is that many runes have tradeoffs as well. While there are some that just increase a single stat, many actually have a cost to equipping them. Want more offense? Then you might have to sacrifice some defense for it.
At the same time, these runes often only affect one side to Avril. An important aspect to the game is that she has two natures, a physical and spiritual form. They are both treated as independent in regards to stats, so increasing attack for your physical nature won’t do anything for your spiritual nature and vice versa. They may even reduce something from one form to boost another.
So the core of balance strikes fully into Batora: Lost Haven, making players to have to make decisions on what playstyle they prefer. Do you try to improve what you’re already great at? Or perhaps try to shore up some of your weaknesses?
Combat certainly requires you to be balanced in approach though. Enemies pop up in standard, appearing to be preset, intervals as you travel around the various maps. Some are weak to physical attacks and others are susceptible to spiritual attacks. There are even some that require using both in order to be defeated.
Switching between natures is as easy as pressing a button and you’ll have to weave in and out of enemies between both forms in order to succeed in battle. Both natures also have their own styles of combat. Where the physical form is akin to melee hack and slash, while the spiritual form is more similar to twin stick shooters.
Where Batora: Lost Haven shines is making players aware of maintaining a balance, but this is somewhat harmed in how runes are equipped. While you can carry and equip many runes, this is limited by the number of rune points Avril obtains throughout her journey.
That’s not a problem by itself, as she needs to grow in this RPG in order to wield more power. It’s just that in tying this with Batora: Lost Haven’s themes, these rune points are also tied to many of the game’s decisions.
If you generally pick more “guardian” choices, then you can only gain enough points to equip runes which use those points. The same would go the other way around for picking mainly “conqueror” choices.
There are also neutral runes, despite there not being any noticeable neutral decisions to be made. It’s not clear how those are generated outside of leveling up, other than having the bar showing where you are on the spectrum of its morality system.
This design limits the gameplay builds you can have as they are affected by your choices. Then you run into the other problem where if you do want to have a certain build, then you need to make choices based around that which limits your ability to have an opinion on story decisions as they come about. Ultimately the developers of Batora: Lost Haven didn’t balance that concept well enough.
Those looking for a new ARPG title that gives them choices might want to look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for an action adventure storyline with tough choices to make, then Batora: Lost Haven might be able to scratch that itch. Just don’t go in expecting a massive game world where you’ll be exploring multiple planets, because that’s not what it’s trying to be.
Batora: Lost Haven was reviewed on PC using a copy provided by Team17. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. It is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (via Steam). A Nintendo Switch release is slated to be coming soon.