Hohokum was developed by Honeyslug Games (based out of the UK) in collaboration with Richard Hogg and was published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Honeyslug is known primarily for their web-based flash games, but may also be familiar to PlayStation fans as the creators of the PSP game, Kahoots. Richard Hogg is an artist and designer best known for Frobisher Says! (PSVita), and contributed largely to the colorful aesthetic of Hohokum.
Hohokum is brilliantly colorful and surreal. Casually darting around stage-to-stage as a brightly-hued serpent looking for (well...) nothing is...exhilarating. Hohokum breaks the shackles of pre-defined gaming troupes and conventions for a light-hearted, enjoyable adventure.
Worlds are interconnected by circular wormholes that are spread throughout any given stage. Usually there are two transit points to warp from one particular area to another, and it can take a little while to completely understand the layout of these worlds in order to purposefully travel to a respective one. Each area is full of interesting characters and set pieces that can oftentimes be interacted with as long your serpent passes through creatures and/or objects.
Cleverly designed ‘puzzles’ arise from this mechanic, because (like older gaming generations) there is no player direction or tutorial; the gameplay is all about imagination and creativity, and is always controlled by the pace of the user. The standard ‘task-completed, reward-received’ nature of the game is removed, thus diminishing the frustration that can be accompanied by more-traditional games. Honeyslug and Richard Hogg not only change the fundamental ways it means to play a game, they also provide the full aesthetic by pairing it with wonderful soundtrack.
The music is catchy and poppy, but still manages to be quietly soothing. It fits the abstract nature and artwork of the game, and draws players further in, entrancing them with its eye-catching colors and seamless gameplay. More often than not, music in games is a generated playlist to fit an immense open world game, and is often pushed to the background until it isn't noticeable. Hohokum takes a different tactic and obviously took great care to score and write music specifically for the experience, and because the game and the music were developed in tandem,they fit together perfectly.
Personally, I loved the style and music of Hohokum. It is incredibly soothing, and I greatly enjoyed the ‘figure it out yourself’ homage to classic gaming. However, I could tell that this game is not meant for me. To quote myself, I have become so engrained to the “task-complete, reward-received” style of video games that I found myself not captivated enough to return. It didn’t grab me because I am an old school, nostalgic gamer. I enjoy finding collectibles, running through arena challenges, and pondering over every little flying leaflet for lore and insight into an epic, series-spanning storyline.
Because of this, I was unable to appreciate what Hohokum truly is. That being said, I cannot honestly denounce the importance, careful craft, and beauty of Hohokum. It would be disingenuous to say otherwise. It truly is a highlight of the year, and anyone even remotely interested in playing Hohokum should.