Batora: Lost Haven

Batora: Lost Haven

Batora: Lost Haven is a story-rich top-down action RPG with a deep, immersive narrative and addictive gameplay.

Batora: Lost Haven is a story-rich top-down action RPG with a deep, immersive narrative and addictive gameplay.

You play as Avril, a bold and rather cocky teenager who happens to be “the chosen one” tasked to restore balance to Earth and to other alien planets after their cores have been shattered in the aftermath of a mysterious calamity, which also halved their population. In order to save her home, the Sun and Moon gods bestow upon her their last remaining powers. Avril thus becomes the Keeper of Balance – a supernatural being that can control both physical and mental abilities to fight off evil and restore the integrity of the world. In her journey, Avril will be helped not only by the two gods mentioned above but also by various alien characters, one of which being the titular Batora – a mysterious being that manifests herself as an old witch who claims to be the strongest spirit of the universe and whose intentions remain hidden.

The game is structured around the idea of duality. Avril doesn’t have only one energy bar, but two – one corresponding to her physical aspect (marked with orange), and the other one to her mental aspect (marked with purple). Each of these two comes with a set of 4 distinctive abilities / spells unlocked progressively throughout the game. The enemies are also dual: some of them have to be attacked with physical abilities, while others with mental abilities. The groups of enemies usually contain a mix of these, which makes the combat extremely dynamic. Avril will need to switch her stance depending on what enemy she focuses on, and this is clearly depicted by the color of their health bar: when it’s orange, Avril needs to use her physical / melee abilities, and when it’s purple she will need to use her mental / ranged spells. Yet there are some special types of monsters that require using both at the same time, forcing Avril to switch quickly between them two and even several times during one fight.

The same idea of duality is present in Avril’s choices and in the karma system of the game: confronted with a decision, she has to pick between following either a “Conqueror” path, expressed through an impulsive and a somewhat aggressive attitude, or a more forgiving, supportive frame of mind for the “Defender” path. The story is written in such a way that neither of these choices is right or wrong – things are always “grey”, and what you choose depends strictly on your viewpoint / moral values, although the characters that accompany you will always have something to comment in favor or against your selection, usually giving you “the other side of the coin” perspective. As a result of your choice, the subsequent dialogues / consequences will be different from the other path, and the rewards will also be more fitting for either one of the two stances; your choices will also have a long-term effect on the story progression.

The choices that Avril makes also award rune points based on what she picks. Each rune costs a certain amount of points and in order for Avril to equip it, she needs to have enough rune points of that type available. This mechanic seems to be aimed at motivating the player to keep a balance between their conqueror and defender choices.

The story is fairly linear and Avril’s journey will be guided by quests that she will complete one at a time and which will award her a certain XP and some increase in her stats. There’s not much grinding required, and your time is spent rather equally between story progression (cutscenes / dialogues), combat (there will be just a few groups of mobs for every stage) or other various puzzles. The latter are perhaps the most tricky ones, since they require some logical ability or finicky control: Avril will either have to roll a ball on a 3D maze and bring it to a target spot after traversing various spiraled and inclined platforms, or she will have to find her way through a web of platforms that she has to align in a way that allows her to reach the center of the level, the trick here being that some platforms’ movement will affect the positioning of the others.

I loved everything about Batora: Lost Haven: how gripping the story is, how energetic the combat is, how stunning the artwork is and how lovely the soundtrack is. All these elements blend so well together for a mesmerizing experience and ultimately into a very well designed game.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a press preview copy of the game, kindly provided by Team17 via PressEngine.

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