When a mysterious event nearly destroys Earth, Avril, a 16-year-old girl, is now the last hope of a dying Earth. But Avril’s path won’t be an easy one. She must travel between different planets in her efforts to restore balance and save her own. Sometimes the line between what is right and what is not is a lot thinner than we’d like for it to be, and Avril will have to make decisions that will make a night and day difference, not only for those back home, but also for those who she meets along the way.
Batora: Lost Haven is a choice-driven, isometric action adventure game with light RPG elements as well as a unique duality system that we’ll touch more on in a little bit. You view the game in a top-down perspective, which gives you a pretty wide view of the area around you. However, you can zoom in a little by pressing in the left stick if you want to be closer to the action.
Avril’s journey will take her to four different planets: Gryja, Huav, Mahdzam, and Lume. Each planet’s core she heals not only restores balance to that planet, but brings her one step closer to saving Earth. Each planet is representative of a particular element as well as a different culture, like the Watery Viking planet of Mahdzam. Each planet is also embroiled in some sort of conflict between two different factions, however these aren’t always as black and white as they may seem. Avril must make many difficult decisions in each situation, some that could spell the end of an entire species, which is a burden that weighs heavily on her shoulders as she continues her mission.
Mastering the game’s duality system will be integral to your success in Batora. Avril harnesses the power of Sun and Moon, two mystical entities who are also Earth’s guardians. Sun and Moon guide Avril through each planet, giving her words of wisdom and encouragement when she finds herself in a difficult position, all the while reminding her of her end goal. The powers (referred to as natures) they give her, powers of the mind and of the body, affect combat as well as her ability to navigate tricky puzzles.
In combat, Sun grants Avril great physical strength and equips her with a powerful sword to take down enemies close at hand. Moon gives Avril the ability to attack from a distance as well as some defensive abilities. A color indicates each nature — yellow for body and purple for mind. These colors also correspond with the enemies you face. You deal more damage to an enemy highlighted in yellow if you use Sun’s attacks as opposed to Moon’s attacks, and vice versa. However, there are some enemies who leverage the power of both mind and body, so you’ll have to do a combination of attacks from each side to take them down. Combat combines hack-and-slash (body) and twin-stick shooter (mind) elements, and you’ll be flipping back and forth between the two constantly throughout each fight. While both sides feature equally powerful attacks and abilities, I struggled a bit with mind attacks, as I often couldn’t seem to aim properly.
The duality system also appears in the game’s morality system, where each decision you make will tip you closer to being a conqueror or a defender. Occasionally you are presented with a choice that could have some interesting effects later down the road. Do you risk the fate of an entire race to save one person? Do you run left to help one person escape captivity or do you run right to help someone defend those trying to flee to safety? There are many different paths you can take, which means that the game also has multiple endings you could end up with, so you’ll need to play the game again and again to see what happens each time.
Lastly, you’ll also see the duality system in the puzzle dungeons on each planet. These rely on you solving a puzzle that has you switching back and forth between mind and body to navigate a labyrinth of moving walls, platforms, and other obstacles. These puzzles are fairly easy to complete. They felt a lot like the puzzle dungeons you see in Immortals Fenyx Rising. You just need to know when to use which nature and switch between them with proper timing in some cases.
The overall gameplay of Batora: Lost Haven is fun and satisfying. Remembering to switch between the different natures took some time, and I still occasionally fumble with the controls, but no fight overly frustrated me. Most boss fights were completed on the first attempt. There are three difficulties to choose from. I always choose whatever the default difficulty is, since it presents the best balance between the story and combat. New skills unlock as you level up, giving you more opportunities to lay the sword down on some baddies. You can also equip a ton of different Runes that give Avril more health, increase attack and critical damage, and more. However, some of these may also sacrifice a stat in a different area, such as slightly lower defense, but this was rather negligible and I paid it no mind.
I have only a few gripes with the game, mainly the numerous typos in the dialog, and I mean MANY. Occasionally, the dialog text also stuck on screen long after that person had stopped speaking and we had moved on. However, these issues can easily be passed over and obviously don’t have any effect on the game overall. I had no issues with performance whatsoever, but I do wish that the graphics were a bit sharper. I also wish that some load times were shorter, though, particularly when respawning.
While I have enjoyed my time with Batora: Lost Haven, I don’t know that I’ll return to it a whole lot in the future, even with the multiple endings. It’s not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with the game, but nothing about it stood out as particularly memorable or addicting either. To be fair, my preference in games tends to lean more into the FPS genre, and this game is still good for those looking for another smaller time sink. Batora can be completed in a little over six hours if you’re just going through the main story, or closer to 11 hours if you’re a completionist.
Batora: Lost Haven released last October for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC, but now it has made the jump over to Nintendo Switch. This feels like a perfect combination, the game feels completely natural and in place on the Switch, where I played it entirely in handheld. The only not-so-fun part is that the text on screen is very small when you play in handheld mode, which wasn’t helped much by my eyes already having their own issues.
Batora: Lost Haven
Batora: Lost Haven is a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch, sitting well alongside games like Immortals Fenyx Rising. The unique duality system makes for some interesting gameplay. There is a decent amount of replayability with the different endings, though you’ll still be through with it fairly quickly.
- Simple and fun gameplay with unique duality system
- Zero performance issues
- A lot of dialog text typos and occasional bugs
- Not particularly memorable