Quick Note: The cute aesthetic and desire to adventure into the world are mired by annoying puzzles and lack of communication to the player as to what he/she is supposed to do. Rather than feeling free, you'll often feel annoyed and wondering what the hell is going on.
Game genres have morphed and changed so much that it's becoming harder to simply classify them. This can become an exercise in frustration at times, but ultimately it means that the medium as a whole is growing and expanding, combining things we've come to know and love into new experiences. Not all of these episodes culminate into something worth playing, and unfortunately, Hohokum is one of those experiences.
Hohokum is a game based on diving into its world and figuring things out for yourself. Players start out as a small rainbow snake-like creature in one world and by moving into warp holes, players can take the rainbow snake into new worlds to explore. The game is all about exploration, in almost every meaning of the word, and on paper is sound pretty great. But in execution, it's confusing and disorienting, and one of the few cases in which a game not giving players any sort of direction hinders the experience.
|The color scheme and world design is about the most interesting part of the game.|
This confusion stems mostly from the puzzle solving aspect. You see, the rainbow snake has a bunch of snake friends of different color hiding throughout the game. Solving puzzles in specific levels will help lead to releasing these friends and 'beating' the game. Some of these puzzles are actually pretty interesting and enjoyable.
For example, one world has balls of honey hanging in the air and small characters with tanks on their backs that will suck up this honey. So by carrying them around the player can help these critters fill their tanks and fill up a giant vat in the middle of the level with honey. Once the honey runs out, there are little bugs that are scattered around the level that can be hit, forcing them to wake up and grab more honey, which they then put into the environment. This is smart design and one of the best puzzles in the game.
|Need to know where these people go? Too bad. Figure it out.|
|This is....interesting...I guess....|
All of this frustration is really upsetting, because the over all aesthetic of the game is enjoyable. The different character designs and worlds are unique and fun, with catchy tunes playing in the background. I really feel like the game would have been much more enjoyable if it were simpler, without puzzles but more in line with the first person exploration game Prometheus, or go in the opposite direction with more instruction and guidance and excitement to help avoid the doldrums. By adding puzzles and not giving the player any guidance, the game often feels at odds with itself, trying to give the illusion of freely exploring while also strapping the player down with task after task.
|As much as I want this colorful world to be fun, it isn't.|
5.5 out of 10