L. Sahara McGirt
Review: Havendock Early Access
Publisher: Different Tales, IndieArk
Available on: PC (Steam)
If you've played Raft, Havendock will feel pretty familiar on the surface. Unlike Raft, however, Havendock has you picking up at-sea survivors and managing them as a survival city-builder on a dock. This is where Havendock shines and falters while maintaining an addictive gameplay loop perfect for the gamer who wants a game that feels like Rimworld meets Raft.
First up, Havendock has an interesting but goofy aesthetic. The game opens with one of the simplest but silliest character creators I've seen. I gave my character a halo because why not? If I'm making a Haven for those lost at sea, I might as well be seen as their saving grace.
Oddly enough, the simplistic isometric style gives the game character and leaves room for the focus to be on the gameplay mechanics, which I can appreciate about games like Havendock. There aren't too many bells and whistles in terms of the aesthetic, but city-builders should be more focused on creating gameplay focused on building and managing resources, and creating an experience for players.
At first, Havendock seems simple and easy enough. Gather supplies, build up the dock, make food and water, and complete requests for new arrivals to entice them to join your colony. However, Havendock complicates these tasks through the workshop; players need certain amounts of an item in their inventory to research new build items. Research requirements can get tricky when some of the required research materials can only be gathered or traded. This creates some chance on how quickly one can get those research materials.
While Havendock has an addictive gameplay loop (I lost 4 hours to the game, not even noticing the time.), it does have its problems. Namely, in whatever programming runs the NPC "settlers" who join your haven-at-sea. The NPCs do tasks around the dock but seem to have some problems prioritizing tasks. You can change which tasks they prioritize in the menu, but this gets a bit out of hand in terms of balancing as you get more settlers. The NPC management is perhaps one of the more difficult and sometimes annoying parts of Havendock. Since this game is going to be in Early Access beginning today, April 20th, I'm interested in seeing what changes will be made regarding the NPC settlers. Hopefully whatever changes are made make them run smoother.
However, that element of management does add an element of complexity to Havendock, which would be an otherwise relatively easy survival city-builder. Overall, I've enjoyed the game, and if you're looking for more games that combine survival and city building, Havendock is most certainly one to add to your library as it progresses in development.
Havendock is available in Steam Early Access.