This is a game of contradictions; exciting yet soothing, quiet yet exploding, soft yet jarring. Devoted to curiosity and wanderlust, Hohokum leads the player gently through a myriad of kaleidoscopic worlds just begging to be tipped and twisted through. Teaming up with Sony Santa Monica and artist Richard Hogg, developer Honeyslug invites players to always think outside the box while navigating every mindboggling yet engaging territory.
Zipping across the screen at the player’s control is a dart-like creature with a single unmoving eye, searching for…something, something to touch or to probe or to smash. There is so much to interact with that’s not always identifiable, even after investigation. Things make sounds when crashed into, light up when encircled, or may even resist contact altogether. The only way to find out is to attempt touch.
With the slightest twitch of a shoulder button and a direction to float in, players can curve and spiral past an ancient creature crafting pottery, help carry a dancer to his or her eager and waiting partner, or even reunite a tune and its musician. The means to explore is there and wild, with every world often discovered by sheer accident. Spy something off in the distance to tamper with? Press the X button to get to it all the faster.
There is so much to see in Hohokum that it can be easy to get lost and have the experience be over all too soon. Luckily, the languid movement of the player discourages this most of the time. Sometimes the slightest twitch will up the tempo of the gameplay, breaking any soporific potential Hohokum has. In the calm there is also ordered chaos.
The game chops and changes unexpectedly in delightful and expressive ways. It’s all weird yet wonderful, and best experienced in the dark so as to appreciate the wholly original, wacky cartoon style of Richard Hogg.
Everything players see may call to mind many other strange games and animations, from Katamari Damacy to Adventure Time, but that is not an unwelcome comparison. Hohokum is home to creatures that welcome an inquisitive nature. They’re willing and helpful, and just as curious about you and where you are going, often stopping to watch players float by.
As effervescent as Hohokum is visually, the game also shines aurally. The collective at Ghostly International, which provides the sounds, have married both original and previous work from the label’s 11 artists to the different levels, ensuring a consistent ebb and flow to the pace and tone of Hohokum in its soundtrack and every world encountered. Uncovering the music of Hohokum is just as fun as it is to watch in action.
A lack of direction or immediately obvious objective creates a freedom that allows the mind to wander, which is often not the case in a lot of games. Quests and map markers are something many are too quick to thrust upon players. Not so here.
It is easy to simply forget the intuitive controls and enjoy a laidback journey, allowing thumbs and fingers to do what they want to do until they find something interesting to mess with. While not pushy in its attempts, Hohokum always rewards the inquisitive, as there are small objectives to be found everywhere, including 146 eyes scattered and hidden throughout the game, waiting to be opened. The opportunity to play tourist is always there and makes for a truly relaxing way to rest an unquiet mind.
While an energetic rabbit warren, Hohokum soothes and calms and washes away the outside world easily – something most welcome at the end of a busy day. It is the successfully zen experience that Honeyslug and co set out to create; the ultimate bedtime story for gamers.