Batora: Lost Haven is a gorgeous game that is available to try at the February Steam Next Fest. Developed by Stormind Games and published by Team17, Batora is undoubtedly the most exquisite game I have ever played and I never wanted it to end.
Batora begins with a brief backstory on how you got to Earth and the introduction of the main protagonist. You play as Avril, a 16-year-old girl with extraordinary and other-worldly powers, and travel through a story-driven action RPG where your choices shape the narrative. Avril’s powers come from two entities, the Sun and the Moon, and she uses those powers to fight enemies and solve puzzles.
As you explore the world and pursue your goals, you face enemies in both hack and slash and twin-stick shooter combat. The enemies are a mix of physical (orange) and mental (purple) damage dealers and you must switch back and forth to deal the right damage to the right enemy.
“While playing Batora, I felt at peace.”
When first introduced to the mind puzzles, I was put to ease at how straightforward they are. Even as I progressed further into the game, the puzzles seemed to become more challenging while staying relatively simple. The most difficult part was controlling the mind ball and trying to work out where the game wanted me to place it. Fortunately, practice makes perfect.
While playing Batora, I felt at peace. The soundtrack was not only mesmerising but also incredibly relaxing. The background music made it easier to learn new commands and even the battle music wasn’t distracting. The most relaxing part of the soundtrack by far was the music in the puzzle realm. The teardrop beats were chill and didn’t distract me from the difficulty of each puzzle.
“The visual effects in Batora are arguably the game’s best feature.”
Batora’s storyline in the demo is only a small teaser of what’s to come. Fortunately, what’s on offer is great. The game has two paths: one that’s a more hate-filled path and a more peaceful path. Throughout the story, there were definitely some hard choices where either choice would have consequences, but the decisions make the game exciting. The consequences also made the narrative feel more real and brought out emotions I wouldn’t normally feel for a game.
The visual effects in Batora are arguably the game’s best feature. They drew me in immediately and they’re also what kept me around. The transition between Sun and Moon on Avril introduces a cloud of magic that surrounds her, changing from orange to purple and back again and it’s very aesthetically pleasing. The main hub at the bottom of the screen is also well done; it’s definitive without being overcrowded.
Playing Batora made me want to play for hours on end; I never wanted to stop, especially since the demo only showcases one planet out of four. While I wish the demo was longer, the game offers the perfect amount to keep you on the hook, wanting more. The demo is now available on Steam and if you want to see gameplay, you can check out my Stream here.