Impressions: Sun Haven

I’m currently at around 30 hours played with Sun Haven. I bought it six days ago.

‘Nuff said, yeah?

Sun Haven is a pixel fantasy farming/life sim game in the same vein as Stardew Valley. Like, literally in the same vein. Protagonist arrives in a town, meets a bunch of people, can choose a life of toil via farming, crafting, ranching, fishing, mining, and so on. There is a daily community quest board, a calendar of birthdays and festivals, a pile of romance options. Deja vu, yeah?

The thing is, Sun Haven has a lot of very interesting innovations even within the farm/life sim genre.

For example, Sun Haven has no energy meter. That’s right, you can perform actions for as many minutes there are in the day (and you can make those longer too in the Options menu). It almost feels like cheating, for veterans of this genre. And guess what other sacred cow got slaughtered? The game auto-saves constantly, which means you can safely stop playing at any time, e.g. not just when going to sleep. What the what?! If you thought “one more day” was addicting, wait until you play this.

Oh hey, a map with everyone’s location, house, and important buildings specified.

As mentioned before, the setting is fantasy. Your main character can be human… or elf, or angel, devil, and so on. You can also select a starting background, which affects if you arrive in town with some seeds or a fruit tree or farm animals. Magic also features somewhat prominently, with you learning a fireball spell very early on to assist with combat. As you gain XP in Farming, you can eventually get spells that will automatically till a big square via an earthquake, or summon a rain cloud to water your crops in an area.

Another thing that keeps things fresh is the fact that there is a surprisingly large number of Skills you can pick across the Exploration, Farming, Combat, Mining, and Fishing trees. Each one accumulates XP separately, and while the Skills offered generally affects the specific category, sometimes there is synergistic overlap. Also, these are Skill “trees” only insofar as you need to assign 5 Skill points to unlock the next tier of Skills – you are not actually forced to go down one set path.

There is a plot within the game that is unveiled over time via fairly simple questing. I cannot comment much about it at this point, as I have not really seen enough of it to tell what’s going on. What I can say is that additional towns are unlocked (including different farms!) as you progress. I just got to the Elf town and none of the traditional plants you are used to grow there. Indeed, the Elf town doesn’t even use gold as currency, so you can’t just make bank in Sun Haven and waddle your way over to clear out the vendors. I’m guessing that maintaining two or more farms simultaneously will not go over well, but it will be interesting to see if you can effectively abandon your old life and simply start over elsewhere.

One last piece that I thought was insanely clever was the fact that most foods grant permanent bonuses when eaten, subject to a cap. This encourages you to plant a large variety of crops even after you used Excel to determine the most profitable ones, since each point of extra Mana will save you X amount of seconds by summoning rain clouds instead of using a watering can like a pleb. The bonuses are typically small, like +1 HP and then go down to +0.75 HP for the second serving, but across the dozens or so recipes it all adds up. This can affect HP, MP, Attack, and even movement speed.

My only real criticism so far is that the game is so well-made that I started expecting more out of it. For example, combat is extremely simplistic. Enemy will aggro and try to melee you. You can unlock a Fireball spell early, or you can rely on Crossbows or Sword swings to defeat them. None of this is all that different from other games in the genre. And yet I kept thinking that Sun Haven needed more spells, or enemies with a more interesting attack pattern or something. Exploration feels really good, with a whole pile of useful things to collect off the ground, and yet enemies being so simplistic sort of diminished that somehow. I will say though, that I encountered one boss out in the world that made me flee, and that made things exciting again. Just wish there were more of that in normal enemies.

Overall? Sun Haven gets top marks from me. The genre innovations – mostly in the form of sacred cow slaughters – is a breath of fresh air, and the sense of progression is top-notch. I’m excited to see what the rest of the game has in store for me, even though I’ve already clocked in more than my money’s worth just in the first third of the game.

Posted on March 30, 2023, in Impressions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It works nice on linux as well
    Was nicely surprised by all the QoL things most people wished SV had (or give with mods) just being there.


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