Quick Look – Sun Haven

I bought Stardew Valley right when it released in 2016, and I’ve put a lot of hours into it since then. I’ve dabbled in other farming-focused life sims in the meantime, but nothing really grabbed me in the same way. By the time I started my most recent playthrough, the game had been updated a handful of times, with a new end-game goal – reaching perfection. Having now completed that milestone as well (both in a solo save and co-op one), I haven’t really had the urge to go back to Stardew, but I’ve kept looking for another game that might scratch the same itch while also giving me something new to accomplish.

When I picked up Sun Haven, it was very very early in the Early Access process. I played for about two in-game weeks before deciding that – at least for me – the game needed far more time in the oven. But I was interested enough not to refund it – instead, I put it back on the shelf to wait for a full release.

About a month ago, that 1.0 finally dropped, and the timing couldn’t have been better. My co-op partner and I were just finishing up the game we’d been playing, and we were both ready for some farming. Right from the beginning, it’s clear that Sun Haven isn’t going to be a carbon copy of Pelican Town.

Which is not to say that a lot of the mechanics don’t feel familiar, as a Stardew fan. You find yourself with a plot of land, some rudimentary tools, and a handful of seeds and then, more or less, allowed to proceed in whatever manner brings you the most joy. That said, Sun Haven leans hard into the RPG side of things with skill trees and so many quests (both trivial and … not so trivial) you might get overwhelmed if you’re the type of player who can’t stand to let a quest fester uncompleted.

Of course, co-op night is only once a week for three hours, and I decided to start a fresh solo save as well, to acquaint myself with the parts of the game (i.e. mining and combat) that I tend to spend a lot less time on in co-op, which has also given me the opportunity to screw around some without worrying about messing up the co-op save. I am pleased to report that I – mostly – haven’t managed to screw up my solo save either, although I never have any significant amount of money for more than a day or two. Seeds are expensive!

I’ll admit, it’s been a bit frustrating at times. There are bugs. Lots of them. Thankfully, none have seemed to be game-breaking thus far, but it also means the game sometimes feels unfinished, despite being advertised as 1.0. While I’m nowhere near the end of the “main story” myself, I’ve read the reviews that say that it ends too abruptly. There are things in the game that seem to serve no purpose at all, at least, none that I’ve found yet, and – perhaps most irritating for me personally – there is no easy way to keep track of what items you have yet to donate to the museum without going through multiple load screens to look at the collections.

Sometimes, I think the characters in Sun Haven lack a lot of the personality and charm of the residents of Pelican Town, but I’m still early in the game, so it’s possible I just don’t know anyone well enough yet. It also might be because there are what feel like dialogue glitches – characters you’ve done multiple quests for will sometimes act like they’ve never seen you before. There are currently 15 romance-able characters, although there are some you’ll need to progress the main quest quite a ways before you meet.

Although some of the game design choices completely baffle me, I still can’t seem to stop playing every time I have a few free minutes. I am deeply appreciative of the ability to change the speed of time (the default is 20 minute days, but 30 feels far more comfortable for me), and the fact that if you need to exit the game midday, you can with the only penalty being whisked back home rather than returning exactly where you left off.

Farming game fans who aren’t put off by the chibi-style of the characters will likely get far more entertainment out of this than one would expect for a game with a $25 pricetag. There’s a lot going on, and it’ll take most players in-game years to work their way through all the content.

2 thoughts on “Quick Look – Sun Haven

  1. Will be curious what you end up thinking of this one if you stick with it. It has semi-been on my radar for a while as a ‘Stardew but with more Fantasy!’ type thing.

    Not that I need anything else new any time soon, but hey. xD


    1. So far I’m liking it – ManicTime says I’ve put about 45 hours into it so far across the two saves. Even if I never open it up again, I got my money’s worth. I expect we’ll at least play through the story in co-op (even if the multiplayer isn’t as cohesive as it could be), and I’m looking at museum completion for a post-story goal. It’s not as good as SV now, and it’s probably not even *quite* as good as release SV, but it keeps pulling me back in.

      Liked by 1 person

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