Hohokum has been a game I’ve quite eagerly awaited since its announcement, and now that it’s finally here, and I’ve had a good amount of time to sit and play with it, I can happily say it lives up to my expectations in the most unusual of ways.
What first drew me to Hohokum was the pure whimsy and charm the trailers displayed, largely brought on by the wonderful illustrative art style, vibrant colours, trance-like music and hypnotic movements of the snake-like creature that players control. The goal of the game remained a mystery, as did pretty much every other detail about the game, and oddly enough little more was revealed leading up to the games release. Chances are when you sit down and play Hohokum you will have no idea what your goal is, how to achieve it (or anything else) and will have no other choice than to act on a whim, and that is exactly what Hohokum wants from you.
Hohokum, more than a traditional objective based experience, is a playground. You are placed into a world full of objects that you can interact with, each reacting in its own unique ways. Certain objects react to each other at times causing drastic changes to your surroundings, and the only way to discover these interactions is by experimenting.
Hohokum is split into a wide array of worlds that you can travel between at your leisure, each with its own distinctive feel and most importantly, its own unique logic. Some elements cross over, but for the most part each world contains its own unique set of rules that apply to the way characters and objects in the environment act, and these interactions always inevitably lead to a reward. The most obvious goal in the game is finding other creatures similar to the one you control, with one of each hidden in every level. Most often finding them involves solving a puzzle of sorts, be it battling to free an imprisoned monkey-like creature, serving wine at a wedding or finding all of the carts to fill a roller coaster. Most objectives require a number of different stages that, once glimpsed, begin to make a strange kind of sense and become easier to decipher.
With such a reliance on obscurity and lack of direction, Hohokum could easily have been an immensely frustrating game, but the absolutely beautiful artwork and adorable characters that fill each world instead make it an absolute pleasure to explore. Quite often it seems the best way to find success in the game is to make no efforts to find it and instead simply relax and play with items in the environment. You will inevitably find more and more toys hidden within the world, you will grow curious about how they will work in a certain situation and before you know it you gain a trophy or happen upon a new location you hadn’t found yet.
The insistence on keeping so much of the game vague may be frustrating for some, with new locations being very difficult to find at times and the things you find upon solving a puzzle not necessarily serving any purpose other than to acknowledge that you have accomplished something, but it’s difficult to see how a more traditional reward system would work.
Hohokum, simply put, is one of the most relaxing experiences it is possible to attain whilst sat before a screen. It most likely will appeal to a very small number of people, but to those who take pleasure in the oddity of a game like Katamari or Noby Noby Boy, or maybe even the relaxing lull of Flower and Flow. Hohokum to me is the gaming equivalent of watching a tropical fish tank. Entirely engaging in the most simplistic and beautiful way.
- Replay Value