“Where we’re standing right now, in the ruins in the dark, what we build could be anything.” – Chuck Palahniuk
Havendock is an early-access resource management and building game that sees players trying to survive in the middle of the ocean. Players must attract settlers, manage them, and meet their various needs! The game is currently intended as a single-player experience but there is a co-op mode in development.
Released: 20th April 2023
Available on: Steam
Havendock begins with a cute character creation screen followed by a very comprehensive and easy-to-follow tutorial that covers all the basics of survival. It takes the player through conducting research, sourcing and distilling water, cooking food, gaining settlers, meeting their needs, expanding the settlement and more.
As the player expands their dock, they will be able to make contact with land and connect with existing structures. The former allows settlers to arrive, players can welcome them but must be able to provide a home and have enough resources to meet the settler’s needs. These needs must be monitored and consist of hunger, thirst, health, happiness and sleep. The player must also manage their own hunger, thirst and health.
Research can be conducted to learn blueprints and recipes to improve facilities and technology on the dock with things such as nets, sprinklers, cooking stations, water tanks, smelters and even things to improve settler happiness. Research costs resources, as does crafting any items that are discovered. Resources can be collected from floating debris, farmed, dived for or otherwise crafted.
Settlers can be assigned certain jobs such as diving for ores or pumping water. Their resource management can also be prioritised so they collect and restock specific things first such as water and food. This helps keep things under control and when managed effectively, adds to the relaxing nature of the game.
There is a lot of content to explore including a plethora of things on the research tree, plenty to build, craft and farm, as well as managing settlers yet the game maintains a mellow pace and casual feel overall. It has regular autosaves but allows for manual saves as well. The UI is clean and easy to navigate and the controls are intuitive making it feel very quickly accessible, especially with the help of the tutorial.
Narrative and Styling
Beyond being stranded at sea, minor interactions and having to build a society, there is very little in the way of narrative elements in Havendock. An imaginative player could construct their own story as they progress and grow their dock and population. This is not the game’s detriment as it has comprehensive gameplay that is the focus of the experience.
Havendock has a cute, low-poly art style using a vibrant and warm, somewhat nautical or beached-themed colour palette full of tan, brown, yellow and shades of blue. There is a nice amount of detail but the visuals remain uncomplicated and feel easy on the eye, matching the casual feel of the game. The music mostly consists of gentle guitar tracks that play softly in the background, this makes a lovely, relaxing accompaniment to the generally laid-back experience.
Havendock’s singleplayer mode is in a good state for an early access game, there is plenty of content and I encountered no issues when playing. It has colourful and whimsical visuals with charming, relaxing audio to accompany the comprehensive and engaging yet calm gameplay. It is a great example of a resource management and building game with a distinct oceanic settling and plenty of fun, satisfying interactivity. I’d happily recommend this game to fans of the genre or anyone looking for something comprehensive and stress-free.
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