Batora: Lost Haven will remind you of Torchlight 3, but the gameplay mechanics are trying for something unique. They were the thing that stood out to be the most in the hour-long demo I played, with both a ‘hack and slack’ and ‘twin-stick shooter’ modes on display here. 

At first, the isometric top-down view can lead you to think you’ll be playing the game a specific type of way, but what’s most intriguing about Batora: Lost Haven is that it requires you to flick between two attacks modes. ‘Physical’ attack mode is great at dealing with orange enemy types and deal close-quarters sword damage. The ‘Mental’ is about range, and the twin-stick shooter mode deals damage against the purple enemy types by casting spells from a distance. Using Physical attacks against Mental enemies will still deal some damage, but it’s nowhere near as effective. 

The ultimate test of my understanding of the game’s mechanics came when I faced a boss at the end of the demo. It switched up its attack patterns, and you’d have to match it in Physical or Mental attacks while constantly dodging around the arena to deal effective damage. It was a fun fight and the highlight of the demo. 

Outside of the combat, a handful of puzzle sections were introduced, but nothing too mind-blowing. And, of course, there’s a story here, as I was thrown into what seemed the third or fifth hour of the game. I was a little confused about what had been happening, even if the demo attempted to fill in the blanks. The long-short of what I gathered was that Earth was destroyed, and the protagonist was transported off-world for some reason. Who knows! But the world seems relatively interesting, and there are decisions to be made to help shape the story. The first was choosing whether to kill or spare a character that had done bad things, and the second was of two good characters to save. I would stick by my choice in this regard, but what I chose got the father of a friend killed and hearing them tell me how evil I am afterwards was hurtful. 

The demo for Batora: Lost Haven will be playable for everyone during Steam Next Fest (21-28 February).