Players have spent years tilling the soil and spelunking the depths of Stardew Valley. It’s a wonderful place to grow turnips and raise a pixelated family. However, after all that time, players might be left to wonder what would lie beyond the beach on the south side of Pelican Town. They might find their answer in Havendock.
Indie game Havendock is a laid-back procedural colony management and survival sim that will delight players accustomed to watching their farms grow and thrive. It offers farming along with other mechanics such as crafting and NPC side-quests. However, it steps away from this familiar formula by shifting focus from the player’s avatar to the community the player builds and the management of other survivors.
Havendock Is More Than a Farming Sim
The gameplay at Havendock‘s core shares familiar ideas with games like Stardew Valley and Raft. Starting with a player avatar stranded in the middle of the ocean, basic materials are gathered to begin the crafting and research process. After the first few farms are planted, however, players expand their haven to make room for new survivors and reach passing flotsam. These materials are used to craft, trade, and research.
New technologies will help the player gather more materials at a faster rate, allow the creation of refined goods, unlock new base blocks, and provide important upgrades to further develop the haven’s society. On top of resource gathering, players will need to manage their hunger and thirst, which is reminiscent of the energy mechanic found in Stardew Valley except slightly more involved. Instead of specific foods that only increase energy and health, meal production will eventually need to be streamlined and expanded to support not just the player but also the newcomers to the floating town.
Other Survivors Help With the Work in Havendock
While fans of Stardew Valley know and love the delightful characters that inhabit their town, the interactions, though extensive, are fundamentally scripted. The ways to build the Stardew community are limited to the options the developers included. Havendock, on the other hand, is reliant on the involvement of each new survivor, and every playthrough will look different.
Though the characters are not as detailed in their backgrounds, every castaway furthers the story of the haven the player builds, which is the dynamic beauty of Havendock. Survivors have various needs and can equip tools to improve their job performance. A few assignable tasks include gardening, resource refinement, sanitation, cooking, bartending, and even scuba diving. All survivors play a vital role in the expansion of the town, and keeping them happy and healthy is a priority.
The Pace Is Relaxing Despite Havendock Being a Survival Game
The pacing of Havendock is one of its greatest strengths, and veterans of Stardew Valley will instantly feel it. Instead of the number crunching and crisis management of many other colony sims, Havendock wants the player to come and stay a while. The visuals are easy on the eyes, the music is laid back, and there is a happy charm that permeates throughout the art decisions of the game. The haven expands when the player is ready. Castaways have mini-quests that must be completed before coming aboard, but they are typically simple to accomplish. There are adventurous surprises in store as the game continues, but all with that same relaxed pacing in mind.
Stardew Valley became a labor of love that developed into the gem players know today, and Havendock is poised to take a very similar path. Indie game developer YYZ gave the community access to their development process and called for input via their blog and Discord. Many of the upcoming additions to the game will be based on this player input. This is the type of community involvement that earned Stardew Valley its longevity and a deep appreciation from its fan base, and it will no doubt do the same for Havendock.
One of the best outcomes of Stardew Valley becoming so popular is that it proved games don’t have to be centered around struggle and difficulty to be enjoyable. At the end of the day, many gamers want to be able to sit back, relax, and watch something they create grow and succeed. They want the chance to build a community, and in Havendock, no one stays adrift for long.
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