We may lament the fact that a lot of cyberpunk games forgot that “punk” doesn’t mean “being edgy while doing the Man’s dirty work,” but what we can’t deny is that we’re getting a steady stream of titles in the genre. In the
Project Haven demo, we got the first taste of running a gang of mercs in the last city on Earth.
I don’t know why Haven City is the last city on Earth – the Project Haven demo didn’t tell me, so I assume it’s the culmination of entrusting fixing climate change to free market initiatives. In this surprisingly non-desert dystopia, you control the Steel Dragons, a merc crew that’s aiming to rise to the top. They also deliver the best hard-boiled dialogue ESL writers can muster.
Project Haven is old school in that your action cost action points – this isn’t an XCOM-like two-action-per-turn affair. It’s also modern in that you can use a Phoenix Point-like aim system. Aside from allowing you to hit any body part you want, it’s also key to marveling at the oiled pecks of your neo-Soviet opponents. Also, Russian (?) game devs are genetically incapable of not naming some tough guy ‘Fang’ in their game.
Before you go out to shoot people in their perfectly waxed six packs, you can arm your team to your liking. The thing that surprised me the most is the extremely retro starting weapon roster, featuring lever-action shotguns, SMGs that haven’t been seen since the ’80s, and a surprise renaming of the AK-12.
Another thing to do before go out to prune the presumably already dwindling human population some more is futz around your base. Buy some weapons, click on your crew members for some sound bites (they’re all bespoke characters rather than being XCOM randies), and learn about your next mission.
Project Haven is quite fond of these FPS RPG style talking heads (chatting torsos?), and you know what? It’s fine. The model quality and facial animations might vary, but there isn’t anything more jarring that what you’d see in, say, The Witcher 2.
And no, you don’t get to take Bubbles into the field, she’s only controllable in the tutorial. It does a fairly good job of teaching you all the basics – including the fact that you need to manually order your lads to step out when they’re in cover to get a better sight picture. Considering that it’s one of the main complaints leveled against Phoenix Point – no stepping out if you aim manually – the devs seem to demonstrate the ability to learn from the mistakes of others.
All in all, Project Haven demo leaves me cautiously optimistic. I have been burned by turn-based titles before (I want my time back, Shock Tactics and 1971 Project Helios). Then again, 2022 is some time away, and the devs have quite a bit of time to show us their best.