Review: Hohokum (PS4)
Creativity comes in all shapes, forms and colours, and Hohokum is a great blend of all three. It’s not easy to pin what this game is about. It’s like playing a magical creature that can enter and exit all the paintings in a gallery and change the picture itself. Hohokum is like playing art and getting lost in it. There’s no direction, no path, no rules and no one telling you how to get from point A to point B. It’s game that can only be completed by wandering around.
There’s no direct story in Hohokum, it’s more like a giant playground of music and colour. It starts off with you, a snake-like creature that randomly changes colour, roaming around in a colourless space, gradually meeting other snakes and spreading a little colour around. You don’t paint anything, but the movement of the different snakes brings some new life into the world around you. Knocking into circles will make them pulse while changing their appearance and making a pleasant sound. There’s no direction in this part of the game, but roaming around and discovering all your ‘friends’ and making pretty patterns is entertaining in its own right. Eventually you’ll stumble on the thing you’re meant to find – randomly finding your objective is a reoccurring theme in the game – and eventually passing into another world.
Once you travel to this other world, your friends split up and it’s your task to find them. Each one is hiding in a different stage, which you jump to using different portals. These portals are activated by activating a ring of circles. Each stage has its own theme, music, vibe and character. You’ll visit a waterpark, a floating forest, a factory, a kite park and many more. You can interact with many things in the world, from trees and pots, to giving little fairy people a lift. It’s very entertaining and you won’t mind the lack of direction. Controlling your creature is as simple and elegant as the game itself, left analogue for movement, circle button to slow down, x to speed up a little and the shoulder keys to bolt in another direction really quickly. Most of your interactions will happen when you knock into them or fly over them.
Sometimes the objective of each stage is pretty clear, like getting to the end of a dark cave or getting the worker bees to work, while others are really difficult to spot or confusing to figure out. Most of the time I figured out the puzzles by accident or at random, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s almost like the game is a poetic metaphor for something you’re looking for but can’t find, and finding it when you’re not looking for it.
I don’t think Hohokum is a game that some of you will enjoy, and it’s not something you play in a 3 – 6 hours in one sitting, but it’s a great game if you’re looking to lose yourself in a wonderful world of colour for a few minutes to an hour. If you enjoy exploring and find no fault with a little bit of pointlessness, then you’ll have a blast playing this game. Though it’s possible to finish it within an hour (according to the trophies), it certainly won’t be easy and you’ll never manage that in your first playthrough. You’ll spend a good portion of your time flying into random objects to see what they do and if they have an effect on the puzzle you’re meant to finish. I took great pleasure in being all the little people’s rollercoaster ride in the theme park level. There’s a surprising amount of fun to be had in a game this simple.
The music of the game suits it down to a tee. I’m not a fan of every track, but that’s a personal preference. Music is, after all, subjective and entirely dependent on who’s listening. Each track suits the level and all the sounds you make in the level compliments the music (though not quite as much as the music in Lumines Electronic Symphony, for example). The sound effects are also great, especially in some of the more comedic levels, like the bee factory. Others are a bit haunting, like the floating forest. The game offers you a nice mix sounds that matches the simple, yet elegant visuals.
Hohokum is a one surprising and joyful game. The simple controls and simple mechanics make this game easy to fall into. There’s no learning curve, just you and your controller.It’s also available on cross-buy, so you can get the game for PS4, PS Vita and PS3 all in one pop.