The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
of the indie gaming scene accuse many modern triple-A games of being all flash
and no substance - big budget boondoggles that rely on huge action-flick
set pieces and expensive graphics to cover up their lack innovative gameplay.
proof that the same can be said for games that wear their indie aesthetics on
their sleeve. It has it all: oddball, cartoonish graphics that are
colorful and charming, tasteful electronic music by a host of artists on the
hip Ghostly International label, and a "nonlinear" structure that encourages
players to experiment with the environment at their leisure.
I love games
that stretch the definition of what a video game can be. Whether it's Journey
or Gone Home, the last few years have seen titles that eschewed traditional notions
of gameplay and challenge while delivering profoundly emotional interactive
experiences. Hohokum, for all its whimsy and often-humorous weirdness, doesn't
really seem to have much to say. In fact, it's much more of a conventional game
than advertised. Your wormlike creature must solve puzzles (usually as simple
as delivering a little cartoon creature to the right platform or hitting a
sequence of switches) and complete objectives - there's even a boss battle
with a giant elephant.
itself is extremely simple - you guide your line-creature around the
environment and run into objects or give other creatures a lift when they jump
on. There are a number of levels you can complete, but they are all unlocked
from the outset and there is no set order of progression. In general, it's up
to you to enter a new area, and start running into things until you suss out
what you're supposed to do. The developers clearly see this as a way to create
a game that encourages ingenuity while not placing limits like death or a timer
on the experience.
That's a great
idea. However, I found myself wishing that Hohokum had either been more structured
(by giving me better cues and a more solid gameplay structure) or more experimental.
As it stands, this art game doesn't have much of a point, aside from its own
(admittedly nice) aesthetics. Its vagueness and leisurely pace might be
pleasant to some; I was frequently restless and found myself wishing the game
would just get on with it already. Once you figure out what you're supposed to
do, the actual actions or puzzles are usually fairly simple and uncreative.
Again, I can't
stress how much I enjoyed the game's art, music, and quirky vibe. Hohokum is
one hell of a screensaver. As a game, it lacks depth.
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.