Space Haven - Early Access Review

Space Haven is the latest game from Finnish studio Bug Byte who I would like to thank for providing me with a copy of the game, and the chance to get access to it before it's early access launch on Steam.  The game is set in a near future setting in which your crew has left behind an Earth which is dying, following years of abuse at the hands of humanity.  You need to build your ship, explore star systems and gather resources in your search for a new Earth. 
In the version of the game which I have had access to you have two options for starting.  A 'basic platform', which is simply a rectangle with your basic facilities required as the foundation of your ship, or an 'abandoned mining station', which is a more complex layout with a lot more placed for starting, however this will only sustain your crew for a limited time and you will need to build your new ship from scratch.  There is also currently only a 'normal' game mode, however the presence of this as an option suggests that there will be more to come.  Regardless of which of the two 'scenarios' you select, you will have to select one of 4 difficulties, ranging from peaceful to harsh, and review your crew.  You can see a summary of the crew skills and select each member individually to see their stats and re-roll the crew member if you want a different distribution of skills.

Whilst the basic platform layout gives you a slightly quicker start, I've decided to play on the mining station map for the review (after spending some time in the basic  map to get the gist of the game).  To start with you have a blank canvas on which to design your ship by drawing your hull.  There is a tutorial, however this is where it falls slightly as it directs you to the build menu to construct your hull.  This defaults to an object filter for placing internal walls, facilities and furniture within your ship.  To build hull pieces you need to change this to the edit view.  From the tutorial this was not clear and I did spend a good 5 minutes cycling through the objects and getting frustrated that the wall pieces couldn't be placed.  Once I discovered the correct option though, building went without a hitch.  Building your hull is as simple as click-dragging a square of tiles which will then be constructed over time.  After some hull is completed the tutorial will kick in again and direct you through placing your vital ship systems, such as airlocks, power and life support systems. 

The abandoned mining station which serves as your starting point in the alternative scenario
As you build items you will realise how much space is actually required for a ship.  I found myself constantly adding more hull segments, however I feel this is probably preferable to starting with a massive footprint and using a lot of resources up in the process.  In addition to building objects, there are various systems which you will need to manage, and building slowly will help with this.  The main systems are power, gases and temperature.  Each of these comes with their own challenges and tools to help you, along with associated heatmaps to ensure you can build efficiently.  Make sure that you remember to scrub carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere whilst supplying oxygen and regulate the room temperature to keep your crew comfortable.  Other things which will affect their comfort include having beds to sleep in, access to toilets and where their sleeping quarters are in relation to other items, such as the ship core.

Whilst your ship is being constructed, you can engage your crew in other tasks.  To ensure that you have the resources available to build your new ship, and keep your crew alive when it is complete, you will want to mine nearby asteroids and explore derelict ships in the sector.  To set your crew mining, you can either click on an asteroid and then the 'mine' button in the lower left of your screen, or you can zoom out to the tactical view.  In this view you can see all asteroids and ships in your sector and carry out certain interactions, such as hailing ships or setting mining tasks, however bear in mind that if you are mining, you will reduce the number of mining pods available to build your hull.

To explore a derelict ship you will need to select and draft a crew member.  This is done using a button in the lower left of the UI beside the information panel once they are selected.  From here you have manual control over this person to direct them to interact with certain objects, or move them around your ship.  You can instruct them to enter the shuttle and then move this until you reach a derelict structure.  Using the dock function you will be able to select an airlock for the ship to dock with.  Upon arrival instruct the crew member to leave the shuttle and you will resume your manual control over them.  I would highly recommend ensuring that the person you are sending is equipped with a weapon as there are often hostiles on these ships.  Whilst there are inherent dangers of exploring these abandoned ships, they can hold valuable rewards.  Whilst exploring the ships you might come across items such as credits, data logs or even occupied hypersleep chambers.The credits will be valuable for trade whilst the data logs provide story content regarding the ravaging of Earth.  The most valuable though is probably the chambers as you will be able to expand your crew from these.  The final benefit from these is that you will be able to salvage all sorts of materials following a successful exploration. 

The star map where you decide which system to jump to once your ship is ready
Eventually you will have built all of the systems required to complete your ship, including a hyperdrive, and will be ready to make your first hyperspace jump.  This will be vital as you continue your mission to find a new home world as you will need to keep moving to get more resources to keep your crew alive.  Once you are ready to make the jump you will be presented with a space map.  From this you can decide whether to drop out of hyperspace, or continue to a new sector based on the information available about the resources.  If you want to venture further afield and look at another star system, you will need to build hypersleep chambers for your crew to enable them to survive through interstellar travel.

Overall the game is very enjoyable, even at this early stage, and it's hard to think that it has been made by a team of three people.  Whilst, on the surface, when you look at the menu it seems that there isn't a lot of content due to the single game mode and two starting scenarios, don't be fooled.  Once you have made the jump to hyperspace there is an entire galaxy of possibilities with different challenges and rewards.  The tutorial tips could do with some refinement as they are occasionally I found myself struggling to work out what to do, and due to the lack of tip to ensure your ship had weapons prior to making a jump I found my self destroyed by pirates a couple of times.  The devs are very aware that the game is in an early state, and, whilst not committing to time scales, have given a rough roadmap of what they want to add during early access, but also want to be guided by the players.  The few times that I've had a chance to play, I have lost a number of hours to it and feel that it's a game I would lose a lot more time to, especially with the randomly generated derelicts and space sectors.    

The basic platform starting block

Starting to construct the hull of our new ship

Power heat map, overlays also available for temperature, gases and more

Making progress with the ship

Exploring a derelict ship

Encountering some hostiles on a derelict ship

Tactical map view of the sector showing derelict ship and mineable asteroids

Space Haven is now available in early access on Steam at a price of £18.99

Space Haven - Early Access Review Space Haven - Early Access Review Reviewed by Parcival on May 21, 2020 Rating: 5

No comments