REVIEW – Batora: Lost Haven is an action-RPG developed by an Italian studio, Stormind Games, that revolves around a young girl, Avril, who has special powers and travels across the galaxy. The game features a unique combat system, colorful graphics, and an interesting story, but does it deliver on its promises for Nintendo Switch owners?
Batora: Lost Haven is a game that could easily be mistaken for a cartoon adaptation at first glance. The game’s world and characters are very reminiscent of the shows that aired on 4KidsTV in the early 2000s, such as Sonic X or Yu-Gi-Oh! The game’s style, however, is not accidental, as the developers wanted to create an action-RPG that speaks to both childhood dreams and the challenges of growing up.
The game’s protagonist is Avril, a 16-year-old girl who loves car racing and seeking challenges. One day, however, a mysterious catastrophe occurs, which destroys the Earth and all living beings on it. Avril is the only survivor, who also has a special power: she can switch between physical and mental modes, which grant her different abilities and effects. Avril soon realizes that she is the last hope of the universe, which is threatened by an evil force. She sets out on a long and dangerous journey to find the planet called Lost Haven, where maybe the problems can be solved.
Batora: Lost Haven promises an exciting space adventure, where Avril not only has to fight enemies, but also make decisions that affect the story and the fate of the world. The game lets us explore several planets, each with its own culture and environment. The gameplay is based on a unique combat system, where switching between Avril’s two modes is crucial.
Unique combat system
Batora: Lost Haven’s biggest strength is perhaps its combat system, which allows for very varied and exciting battles. Avril can switch between her two modes at any time with a button press, and this not only changes her appearance and weapon, but also her stats and abilities. The physical mode allows for strong attacks, but provides weak defense. The mental mode allows for weak attacks, but provides strong defense. The mental mode also lets us use our elemental abilities, such as fire, water, earth or air. These abilities can be upgraded and combined throughout the game.
The combat system also involves managing Avril’s two health bars (HP) and shield bars (SP). The HP belongs to the physical mode, while the SP belongs to the mental mode. If one of them runs out, Avril falls down and can only be revived by another player (if there is one). If both of them run out, it’s game over. The health and shield regenerate if we don’t use the corresponding mode, but it takes time. Therefore, it’s important to switch smartly between the two modes and exploit the enemies’ weaknesses and strengths.
The combat system is thus very clever and dynamic, but unfortunately not perfect. The biggest problem is perhaps the controls, which are quite stiff and inaccurate. The game tries to mimic a twin-stick shooter, but it doesn’t succeed. The aiming is cumbersome and slow, while the movement is jerky and cumbersome. The camera also often shows the action from a bad angle, which makes it hard to orientate. The fights can thus be frustrating and chaotic at times, especially if there are multiple enemies attacking at once.
Colorful graphics and atmospheric music
Batora: Lost Haven’s other strength is its graphics and music, which fit very well with the game’s style and mood. The game’s world is very colorful and diverse, diverse, every planet offers a different sight. The characters and enemies are well-designed and animated, although there are some minor graphical glitches or slowdowns at times. The game’s PS5 version takes advantage of the console’s capabilities, running at 4K resolution and 60 FPS.
The music is also very atmospheric and suits the game’s space adventure theme. The tracks are varied and dynamic, adapting to the situations and the decisions we make. The sound effects are good, although sometimes too loud or repetitive. The voice acting, however, is quite weak, especially in the English version. The actors don’t really convey the emotions or the personalities of the characters, they sound bored or exaggerated.
Nintendo Switch unique features
The Nintendo Switch version of Batora: Lost Haven doesn’t differ much from the other platforms, but that’s not necessarily bad. The gameplay is just as enjoyable and varied, and the graphics are nice and detailed, although there are some minor slowdowns or graphical glitches at times.
The game makes use of the Switch’s unique features, such as the joycon’s rumble or the gyroscope, which can be used to control the crosshair. The game also supports split-screen, so you can play with another player together. Batora: Lost Haven is thus a good choice for Switch owners who like space adventures.
Interesting story and decisions
Batora: Lost Haven’s third strength is its story and decisions, which affect the gameplay and the ending. The game’s story is both exciting and touching, full of twists and surprises. The game’s world is very rich and detailed, every planet has its own history, culture and problem. The game introduces us to several interesting and colorful characters, who help or hinder us on our way. The game also involves our decisions, which we can express with the Conquer (Conqueror) or Defender (Defender) answers. Our decisions affect our karma points, which have an impact on our abilities, our relationships and the story’s outcome. The game has multiple endings, depending on the decisions we made.
The story and decisions are thus very interesting and exciting, but unfortunately not perfect. The biggest problem is perhaps that the decisions’ impact is not always clear or logical. Sometimes they affect things that have nothing to do with them, or they don’t affect things that should be related to them. The karma points system is also quite obscure and complicated, it’s not always clear how they affect our abilities or our relationships. The story can also be contradictory or confusing at times, especially at the end.
A promising, but flawed space adventure
Batora: Lost Haven is a game that has a lot of good ideas and potential, but unfortunately doesn’t fully exploit them. The game’s strengths are its combat system, its graphics, its music and its story, which are very varied and exciting. Its weaknesses are its controls, its voice acting and its decisions, which are frustrating and confusing. Batora offers an enjoyable, but not perfect space adventure, which is worth trying out, but don’t expect a miracle from it.
+ Unique and varied combat system
+ Colorful and detailed graphics, atmospheric and dynamic music
+ Histoire intéressante et touchante
– Contrôle rigide et imprécis
– Voix off faibles et ennuyeuses
– Décisions peu claires et contradictoires
Developer: Stormind Games
Sortie: PC, PS5, XSX: October 20, 2021 Nintendo Switch: April 6, 2023