When Yami went around the Twinfinite offices offering up the new games for the week, she asked which ones everybody would be willing to play. I chose Shattered Haven because I had no idea what it was. Seriously, if you take a look at screenshots, it clearly is some post apocalyptic game, but you’d really have to squint to figure out what it does. Wanting to try something a bit different in my life, I jumped at the opportunity to test something which I had no idea what it really was.
So Shattered Haven is a maze game in the same idea conceptually as Bomberman. Now, its all built on an engine that looks cobbled together in RPG Maker, but that’s really ancillary. Great things can come out of nowhere and this game tries to set up something really interesting. It doesn’t succeed in a lot of ways, but it certainly made the effort.
Shattered Haven is about trying to find your children in some magical zombie infested world that seems to be sinking in to the core of the earth. It is an oddly realized world where water hating zombies, killer Krakens, and the most annoying scorpions ever exist to make your journey a chore. You’ll traverse from area to area in an attempt at appeasing some shadow overlord.
This engine isn’t made to tell an engrossing story, and what we’ve got is a simple quirky tale that works pretty well anyway. To see the world literally eat itself by crumbling in to darkness is certainly interesting.
Using this basic engine is great for the game because it is set up to utilize an overworld and single screen levels. In the overworld, you rummage around and try to find ways to progress forward using whatever is lying around on the ground. This could be hammers for fixing bridges, scythes for cutting down trees, or even the sledgehammer for those days you just want to start smashing things. This is a fun little system that is fundamentally flawed by its lack of action.
When I pick up a sledgehammer in a zombie and killer rat infested world, I fully expect to be able to go smashy-smashy on some undead or vermin. This game will have none of that. The tools work exactly how they were supposed to, yet they don’t work any other fun way. Yes, those zombies will attack you. Yes, you do have a scythe on you that could potentially cut them in half. No, it doesn’t actually cut them in half and only seems to push them away.
You then pick up a gun. Having this fundamental understanding that guns can only kill, you get excited, only to find out that you’d be better served with a water balloon than a gun.
So you are left mildly disappointed with the weapons system, but this is a maze game. The tools aren’t as important as how everything works in gameplay. The puzzle is something more than the rationale. With there being separate little levels for the designer to play with, the game really becomes two separate entities, since you drop everything you have when you enter the portals to these much more interesting puzzle levels.
This is where the game shines and it almost makes everything else pale in comparison. This is because the game is built on an engine to accentuate the single screen level. So when you throw in an interconnected world like the overworld, it naturally goes against the system. The sprites aren’t defining. Any game where every single sprite is the same size is a bit annoying. It really is just a chore to find your character sometimes.
I say all these little annoyances because when the game is on, the design is actually really there. This takes place in the little portal worlds. If the game were almost entirely made up of these levels, to be honest, I would almost be happy. There is creativity, there is diversity and there is some real challenge. I get the need to bridge these levels together with exploration, but the problem lies in the fact that they are just used as a collect-a-thon. Enter and complete 7/7 blue portals to advance to new section of overworld. That is your goal and the zombie survivor bit is just a bit of side story.
You don’t really see many maze games these days so its always nice to get something that tries to be different. I will admit even that there is an audience that could get past its looks, its tedious at times overworld, and its illogical inventory system to get to what is a creative game at times. If you like puzzles, maybe you might see something here for you. With so many more polished games coming out at the $10 price tag, I will caution you. What you get here is a game that was created in a level editor and expanded upon. It does a lot of things quite nice, other things not so much. If you are that person looking for a decent maze game, this will do.
Final Breakdown: Okay
[+Creative Sublevels] [+Fun Magic Zombies] [+Decent Puzzles] [+Kraken] [+Level Editor] [-Tiny Sprites] [-Uninteresting Overworld] [-Bland Graphics]