Preview: Batora - Lost Haven

2022-03-04 by Callum Andrews

It's cute

Let's get this straight out of the way, YOU! are not Batora. Batora is a character in the game but it's not you. It's pretty easy to think that your name is Batora, but it isn't. There is however a character in the game named Batora that does have some influence on the events going on. But as stated, it's not you. You play as Avril, the heroine of the game. Chosen to save Earth after that it has suffered something terrible already and it is up to you to make it right. The story is of the regular trope that the world needs saving and you are the chosen one to do it.

Batora: Lost haven is an action-adventure title played from an isometric view. Reminiscent of the various ARPG titles such as the Diablo series, this title is more set in its ways. You play as a predefined character that has her abilities already set. The various stats that you have are also set and only increase once you level up, hence you don't get the chance to customize your stats in the way that you would like to play the game. The abilities that are available to you at any given time are dependent upon which nature of your character is in. What this means is that Avril has states, called "natures" in the game. The sun nature or the moon nature. All of Avril's physical attributes are based on the sun nature while her mental attributes are based on the moon's nature. When Avril is in the sun state her attack power for physical attacks increases while in the moon state her magic powers increase. The type of attacks Avril can perform also changes. When being in the sun state Avril would equip a fire sword, and when switching to the moon state she gains the ability to shoot projectiles giving her a ranged attack. This also goes for the various abilities that Avril has at her disposal when being in one of the states. When being in the sun state Avril would have available to her a strong leap attack that dealt fire damage, while the moon state let you place a tornado for enemies to walk into. Even the dodging was affected by the nature you were in. While the version that we got to play was mainly for press purposes, many of the things mentioned above are subject to change once the game reaches its release state.

Switching between natures

The nature mechanic is very central to the game, affecting everything from what enemies you can attack most effectively to puzzle solving. Even the enemies appear in different natures so you need to switch between yours to make your attacks as effective as possible. This mechanic felt pretty exciting and fun initially but would occasionally get pretty tiresome and encumbering. Especially in situations where you would face the tougher enemies. Dodging attacks, attacking the enemy, using your abilities and also making sure that you switch natures. In the end, you just end up trying to do too much. Where the nature mechanic shines though is in the puzzle portions of the game. The player needs to switch between the two natures for them to get through the various obstacles that are put in front of them. I found them quite fun and relaxing. Here the game lets the player take their time and think about what they need to do to progress while at the same time playing some ambient music in the background. It's a pretty nice contrast to the game's hectic combat.

There are also runes in this game which are items that you can equip to further enhance your stats. Some are based more on the physical side of Avril's abilities while others are based more on the mental side. While some are just neutral and provide all-around stat boosts. Seeing as you are not able to allocate stat points yourself the player will need to keep their sun stats and moon stats pretty balanced because if the player has their stats more focused on the sun stats then they will have a harder time dealing with the moon-based enemies and vice versa. The thing is that the player's health is split between these two natures, so if enemies dealing moon-based damage are dealing heavier damage on the player than the sun based are, it won't matter how much sun based health the player has left, they will die of the moon-based attacks. While the combat for the most part is fun, especially when you don't feel too overwhelmed by the nature system. It can get pretty cramped. Whenever enemies show up, the area you would find yourself in would be closed off by some kind of barrier that wasn't there before you entered. This makes the area in which you can maneuver and fight pretty small and impossible to escape. This leads it to the point that you either have to win each encounter or die. Not sure why this is implemented but it's something that takes away from the experience and player choice. We can only hope that this isn't something that will be in the final version.

Too much talking

Artistically it's more on the cartoony side reminiscent of games like Torchlight, Diablo 3, or World of Warcraft. The setting is pretty unique and alien which is no surprise since this part of the game is set on an alien planet. The player will get to visit several planets on their journey so it will be interesting to see what kind of settings the developers will be able to put forth. Visually this game looks really nice and brings with it that cartoony charm that games like this have a tendency to do.

The story can get a bit too exposition-heavy. The dialog and story kept breaking up the pace of the game. Roughly counting it would be maybe between 5-15 minutes of gameplay before a cutscene or dialog showed up. Hopefully, this was something that was just implemented for this particular section of the game. If not, then this needs to be looked over somewhat because it can really ruin the pacing of the game. The player will need to make some choices though during some of these dialogs. Whether these choices will affect the game ending or how you progress in the game further on remains to be seen. The game is set for release sometime this year and while having still some time for polish it sure is off to a nice start.