Chances are, should you have already made Hohokum’s acquaintance, you’re either so disinterested you didn’t even bother clicking through to this link or you’re already so extremely on-board that you’re playing through the quirky slither-er right now.
But for those of you unaware of the undulating serpentine Technicolor that is Honeyslug’s Hohokum (coz hey, there’s gotta be someone reading this, right?!), allow me to elucidate the central premise…
Hohokum is one of those games you kinda just arse around with.
I mean this not in a derogatory sense, if anything the occasional morsel of arseing (a linquistic term that, for the record, is VERY quickly getting away from me) offers a sumptuous pallet cleanser to the chalky grind of reaching waypoints and levelling stats.
Think Noby Noby Boy.
It is this kind of agreeable whimsy that awaits you within Hohokum’s colourful confines.
Pointedly, it’s not like Journey. To its credit!
(INCOMING BIAS ALERT)
It doesn’t posture half as much as the latter awardsbait but more importantly, it trusts the players to gleam what they will from the experience, not what is prescribed. In fact, players take a much more active role in the game’s inherent beauty, ramming headlong into myriad points of interaction, conjuring music from flower petals and colourful blossoms from shadow. Hohokum is exactly as lively as you make it, and not as the devs designed it. Which is perhaps the fanciest way I can muster of reinforcing my initial position – you just kind of arse around here.
While interactivity is deceptively plentiful across Hohokum’s themed dimensions (wedding, pirate, circus, windswept floating village place etc) it’s only with the utmost charity that they could be described as puzzles. Essentially you colour things in to see if they unlock, ferry assets from one destination to another and at regular intervals, bash your Long Mover (I’ll leave that one up to your imaginations) into the scenery… often just coz.
It is, and I mean this, immensely commendable that Hohokum rids itself of many UI contrivances such as a heads up display, currency counters and mini-maps, lest they spoil its crisp, fine-lined beauty. It’s immersive and moreish because of their absence, not in spite of it.
That said, you will get lost.
And that will suck.
And that could easily be fixed with but the slightest concession to aesthetics. I’m all for good-looking games. I’m even more for daringly austere projects. But design and functionality must ever be foremost in the development process.
Otherwise, Hohokum’s sole hiccup is its inability to truly invest players. Truth be told, this is as much a genre failing as an idiosyncratic one. And while Hohukum may not be in a league of its own, its peers are so scarce, so venerated, they do indeed constitute their own genre. And inherit the same flaw.
Hohokum is courageously minimalist, strikingly imaginative and deeply impressionist. The latter not so much in terms of its art design, but moreso the feeling it evokes as you explore, nay birth the world around you. It makes as fine a case for the tired Games-As-Art debate as any of the aforementioned gems. But just like the Met, the Tate Modern and yes, even the goddamn Louvre, you really, REALLY need to be in the mood for it!