Review: Hohokum (PlayStation 3)

Hohokum: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation 3 1,757 view 3 likes 0 comments
Reviewed by Nick Riddle, posted Sep 20, 2014
Let loose in the colorful world of Hohokum, fly through the skies and interact with the environment in an easy, relaxed game that lets the player discover all of the nuances and intricacies for themselves at their own pace.
Sep 20, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): August 12, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): August 13, 2014
  • Release Date (JP): August 13, 2014
  • Publisher: Sony
  • Developer: Honeyslug, Sony Santa Monica
  • Genres: Art Game
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10 and up
  • PEGI Rating: Three years and older
  • Also For: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Hohokum, developed by Honeyslug and Sony Santa Monica is an easy-going, slow- to medium-paced art based game with focus on environmental inspection and interaction. The game provides little in the way of instruction, leaving the player to discover for themselves how the game works. Coupled with an amazing electronic ambient soundtrack and simple, gorgeous visuals, the game is certainly an experience to be enjoyed, however the lack of any instructions whatsoever can put the player in a few frustrating binds from time to time.
Nick Riddle

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Hohokum.  A game that gives you so little, yet leaves you with so much.  The game starts and you see a creature, a floating eye with a long, multicolored tail, floating freely among a world made of blackness and circles.  This creature is to be known as a "Long Mover".  After watching it bounce back and forth among the world, you get curious and wiggle the left thumbstick - it moves!  You've not been in a cutscene, but playing the game the entire time.  This is the first thing you've learned.  This is the world of Hohokum.


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Developed by Honeyslug and Sony Santa Monica with art by Richard Hogg, Hohokum is a casual exploration and interaction based art game for the Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita.  Gliding through a 2D world as a "Long Mover", a floating eye with a long, colorful tail, you fly into and through objects to interact with them and progress through the game, ultimately hoping to free 17 other "Free Movers", each with a unique name and design, from the various environments they are trapped in.  There's no hand holding to be had in Hohokum, as the player is left to discover figure out the game at their own pace.  There's no instructions.  No tutorial sequence.  No explicit story, though there are plenty of messages to be taken from the various areas.  No objectives aside from the final goal of freeing the other Free Movers, though that in itself is only derived through playing the game.  The lack of hand holding is both a blessing and a curse, and I can't quite figure out where I stand with it.  On one hand, it's wonderful not having a message appear on screen or a character reminding you every five minutes what your objective is just because you're taking too long, however on the other, the player can find themselves in a frustrating bind at points because some of the triggers to advance or complete the level can be quite obscure.

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It's impossible to hate a pool party when everyone is all smiles.

The musical score is comprised of very mellow, relaxing electronic ambient music, which is all phenomenally paired with the different areas of the game and was a fantastic choice overall for this type of game.  "A Walk" - Tycho sets the scene for the hub area of the game, and numerous other pieces from a multitude of artists under the Ghostly International label fill the game world in every area.  In addition to the score, most areas of the game have environmental objects that when flown into trigger sounds, notes, and chords that pair nicely with the song in the background, transforming the music into a varying experience each time, a welcome departure from what is otherwise often "just a soundtrack" in most games.  Likewise, Richard Hogg's art in the game is vivid, quirky, and simple.  It draws on bright colors, simple shapes, and crazy, outlandish character and level designs to make a very interesting game world that can go from beautiful in an area such as the zone lit by street lamps, to fun in the next such as at one of the amusement parks, to dull and depressing in the hidden desert area where you seemingly do nothing but bring characters to an ice cream stand.

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The hub world, an area comprised of many strings to strum, and... grid paper?

Unfortunately, the miniscule amount of time needed for game completion makes the minor gripes I have with it stand out a little more than they would otherwise, including the total lack of direction and also the fact that the game crashed to black twice, though no progress was lost.  I completed the game in just under 4 hours all while taking my time with it, and there is even a trophy for completing it in under an hour, which is quite easily accomplished.  That aside, Hohokum is a game that anyone can pick up and beat in a short amount of time or ease their way through it and take in all the art that the game has to offer.  It has some subtle messages on a few levels that more mature audiences may be able to pick up on, turning it from "a game" to something that occasionally has a point to make.

It's short.  It's interesting.  It's weird.  It has areas where it really shines and it has its flaws.  It's definitely a game I'd recommend.

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I was not expecting a bullet hell sequence in this, of all games.

Verdict
Pros
+ The game never nags you on how to proceed...
+ Beautiful artwork and music...
+ Very short load times and the game frequently auto-saves...
Cons
- ... but doesn't tell you what to do in the first place.
- ... but not nearly enough time to enjoy it.
- ... which is good, because the game occasionally crashes to black.
9 Presentation
Simple yet absolutely beautiful art, interesting level design, and an equally amazing score to go along with it all. Not much more to say than that.
6 Gameplay
Simple and easy to understand, but the absolute lack of instruction or objective can quickly make the game confusing and tedious. Cutscenes could have been used as a silent instructional aide, however they were not, leaving everything to experimentation.
3 Lasting Appeal
It's a short game and outside of re-exploring the levels or just messing around with the environments, there's honestly little reason to re-play this game.
8.3
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Hohokum really is more of an experience than a game, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. The complete lack of direction could have been executed differently, there's very little playtime, and an odd yet uncommon bug causes the game to crash to black on the PS3. That said, for just a few hours of your time, Hohokum was captivating and entertaining, and if nothing else is definitely worth checking out just for the atmosphere created by the music and art.
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