Hohokum is an interesting game to say the least. Playing as a multicoloured, snake-like ‘Long Mover’ you are placed into the world of Hohokum with no given goals or targets. Figuring out what you are supposed to do in this bright, colourful world is something that you must figure out for yourself. With no tutorial or hints the game leaves you to your own devices and encourages you to experiment and discover things on your own.
To complete the game you must find your fellow Long Movers. These friends have been scattered about the various worlds that you will travel to and are hidden away, requiring you to complete certain objectives to wake or release them. There is no map to guide you, no time limit or high score to try and beat, just a beautiful soundtrack to listen to as you spend your time trying to figure out what the game wants you to do next.
It is easy to get lost in Hohokum‘s world. This can either infatuate or infuriate you, depending on whether you get lost in the beauty and tranquility of the game, or lost due to the fact that you cannot find where you are supposed to be going. A lot of the times Hohokum can tip you from one end of that scale to the other quite quickly. The lack of direction in the game can mean that you are constantly revisiting the same worlds trying to find out whether there is a goal you have missed or a portal to another world that you have passed by.
Luckily, the portals that will take you to other areas will give you a glimpse into that world before you enter it. This is extremely helpful, as it can save you from spending all your time returning to areas that you have previously visited. Each of the game’s seventeen worlds has its own look and feel, meaning that distinguishing between the worlds when the small portal opens is simple, especially seeing as there is no map to help navigate the game.
Controlling the Long Mover through these wonderful worlds is extremely simple. Using the left analogue stick or the L and R triggers to navigate, with X used to increase your speed and Circle used to slow down, you will be gliding through the various stages and picking up passengers in no time.
Once in these worlds you will need to complete certain tasks to be reunited with your friends. These tasks are quite enjoyable, and make great use of the game’s environments. The characters that populate Hohokum‘s worlds will take a ride on your back in order to get them around the world and to help you complete these tasks. Some of the game’s tasks are brilliant, such as collecting villagers and providing them with kites to join the kite festival or transporting them to different fairground rides in order to obtain pieces to complete a rollercoaster in the fairground level.
However, there are tasks in the game where you could get stuck, a prime example is the farm stage. In this stage, you have to make the background turn a certain colour in order to release your friend. The game does not tell you this or provide you with any ideas as to what colour it needs to be, so you could spend a lot longer than necessary trying to release your fellow Long Mover. This can undo all the work that the game’s artstyle and soundtrack do to draw you in.
Hohokum has a beautiful, almost hand-drawn, artstyle that really does look beautiful when you are playing. The colours and shapes that fill the multiple worlds you will travel through are eye-catching and filled with detail. The soundtrack complements the aesthetic of Hohokum, with electronic-music specific to each environment that ebbs and flows to match your movements. The way that the audio interacts with the game’s visuals is one of the things that I really enjoyed in Hohokum, reminding me of titles like Locoroco and Tearaway where the soundtrack plays an intrinsic part to the overall experience.
Hohokum certainly will not appeal to everyone. The lack of direction and the relaxed ‘gameplay’ is definitely something that will put some people off playing it whilst delighting others. Some will find Hohokum relaxing and will enjoy the time they spend getting lost in the colourful world that Honeyslug have created. Others will find Hohokum frustrating, getting lost travelling through the game’s numerous gateways – finding themselves playing through the same few worlds over and over trying to find the next objective.
As a game, it is hard to recommend Hohokum. With loose goals and a lack of action, Hohokum may receive the similar criticism that Proteus received when it was released on the PlayStation Vita. However, as an experience, Hohokum is wonderful. A charming, charismatic trip through a plethora of multi-coloured worlds that you can pick up and play in minutes, but get lost in for hours.