E3 2014: Hands-on: Hohokum

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

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E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall

My experiences on the show floor at E3 2014 have brought forth a handful of hidden gems. And that’s typical, really. Sure, you probably know all about games like Kingdom Hearts 2.5 ReMIX or Fairy Fencer F, but…have you heard of Hohokum? I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down with this quirky, exploration-based puzzle game from developer Honeyslug. Here’s why Hohokum should be a name you get to know:

After beginning the game from the title screen, things just…moved forward. There were no words, no instructions. I just suddenly found myself in control of a constantly moving string-like creature with one eye. Almost looked like a kite. I slowly learned how it moved with the control stick, and that I could hold the X button to make things move a little faster. Still, I had no idea where I was or what I was doing. It was just a white screen–I could even trail off the white screen to a point. It’s like the game has no preset boundaries. Why they chose to make the world feel infinite will make sense in just a bit.

I was lost. I knew how to move and stuff, but I had no idea where to go or what I was doing. I was genuinely lost, so I turned to the Sony rep behind me and asked, “What am I supposed to be doing?” He then told me my simple mission: explore. And he gave a little tip–go down, underneath the ground that seemed to go on forever, but was actually a floating piece of land with the objective of the level hidden underneath, on another piece of land. Before I knew it, I was using myself to cut fruit-shaped floating objects free from branches–they followed me as I picked them up. But so did a bunch of monkey-like creatures, whose aim was to eat. Just look at how crazy this is and imagine it in action!

E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall
E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall

 

After bringing the floating fruit-shaped things to a tree-like object, the tree bloomed and the monkeys stopped being mean because they had infinite things to eat now. As a matter of fact, one holding a whole bucket of them hopped onto me and journeyed with me back above to the beginning of the level. Suddenly, the strange elephant creature holding something prisoner got all violent and began to make sense. It was a boss fight–the object was to safely guide my monkey friend across an angry elephant’s bullet hell until he hit him with enough fruit to beat the elephant-creature into submission. The cage broke, revealing that it was in fact a monkey-creature that they’d captured. The level was complete. I was able to move on.

I did so many things. I braved a world whose objective was to first light a bunch of streetlights, then steal stars and light up constellations. I visited a world filled with colorful people who each had someplace to be and ferried them around…because what are strings for? Everything was super relaxing (especially the music, which seemed to switch between ambient rhythms and jazz-inspired tunes) and utterly artistic in nature. It was genuinely fun to explore this universe, which did indeed seem infinite. One level led to a few others–the way the “world map” worked in the grand scheme of things seemed inspired by games like Fez. Beating one level doesn’t always seem to lead to the next in a linear fashion. I feel like you’d need to go back and forth between levels and find new paths by solving different puzzles to discover everything.

I love games like this. I was genuinely impressed by the time the demo was done. What’s more, Hohokum is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita–with cross-save, no less. It’ll release on August 12th. For more, visit Honeyslug’s official website!

E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall
E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall E3 2014 - Hohokum | oprainfall