Haven Park is a wholesome Animal Crossing-lite with its leisure gameplay and do-good attitude. It is a quality weekend game as the gameplay loop drives the experience, backed by warm feelings of helping cutesy animal characters become comfortable in their campsite. The short campaign also does not have a chance to outstay its welcome and the simple exploratory nature of the landscape provides an addicting sense of wonder.
Playing as a young chicken, you are tasked with rehabbing your grandma’s large campground island. Flint’s quest is a noble one but sounds a lot more grandiose than it real is. Gameplay is nothing more than exploring the environment, scavenging for materials such as wood, metal, and mushrooms. Once enough materials have been collected, they can be spent to upgrade portions of each specific campsite. The bigger and better the site, the more animal buddies will want to stay there.
Upon first starting, these materials are readily available but get annoyingly scarce as campgrounds start to grow. It can get a little tedious to walk around the forest trying to find a few pieces of wood so that park bench can be placed by the campfire since resources are finite. Although not as grindy as turn based RPG, it is this ten dollar digital download’s biggest issue. Thankfully, players can upgrade the playable chicken’s abilities to make gameplay a smoother experience. For example, players can earn more materials from each item or even increase walking speed. Honestly, I am glad these perks are there, as they give the player something to strive for, but can’t help but feel these quality of life improvements should have been a part of the game by default.
To be fair, Haven Park does exactly what it sets out to do – provide casual, low stress gameplay with a wholesome touch. This is further amplified by making the chick say “pew” every time the A button is tapped. It serves no purpose other than to be stupidly charming. There are moments of pleasure in navigating the island and completing side quests, like fixing a cable car or playing Hide-n-Seek, that can put a smile on your face. Even restoring a street light by placing a captured firefly in it is thoughtful and pleasant. However, some mechanics are not fully fleshed out and might leave you wanting something a bit more by the time the credits roll.