The game puts you in control of a snake-like creature called the Long Mover. Its controls are basic: move with the stick, speed up with X, slow down with O. There's also an odd wiggle move with the shoulder buttons that can give a speed boost, but it's fairly unnecessary.
At its core, Hohokum has a clear goal - free your similarly
long-tailed chums, one of which is hiding in each of the game's stages.
This goal is never explicitly explained to the player, however. That's
because it's intended more to be a game about exploration, about
studying your surroundings and figuring out what you're supposed to do
in order to proceed.
Certainly, it does what it can to make this as pleasant a task as
possible. Hohokum is a beautiful game, with adorable worlds and
characters created by artist Richard Hogg (who also worked on
Honeyslug's previous game, the WarioWare-inspired Frobisher Says on
Everything looks immaculately clean, the character designs are
endearing, and it sounds as wonderful as it looks. The beautifully
relaxing musical score comes courtesy of American indie label Ghostly
Interactive, and joins the likes of Thomas Was Alone, Journey, Braid and
The Last Of Us among the list of understated game soundtracks filling
up my iTunes.
Hohokum's whimsical stages are liberally sprinkled with gorgeous
little flourishes, from its interactive environments to the numerous
little residents of each stage who react to you in different ways.
Reach the 'farm' stage (the levels aren't explicitly named) and
you'll find row after row of little creatures tending to the land. You
can fly over the trees to make fruit appear on them, but flying past the
farm's tiny residents will scare some into hiding away inside a
lawnmower compartment (yes).
Go to the cave stage and you'll be able to explore its near darkness
by allowing a little man with a lantern to sit atop you as you plough
Perhaps the most memorable example however, and the one that best
shows off Hohokum's charm, is the funfair stage. Here you're surrounded
by little characters of all shapes and sizes, who take great pleasure in
leaping onto your tail as you ferry them around to various locations.
This stage is also the most obvious example of the actual game tucked
away underneath Hohokum's stylised worlds, and therefore the area where
it becomes clear that despite its aesthetic beauty its gameplay feels
It's clear that Hohokum is about style first and foremost, but once
that style's initial welcome eventually wears off you're left looking
for substance, and it's here where Hohokum's shortcomings come to the
As a game, it's left wanting. A lack of signposting makes for
trial-and-error experiments which can be frustrating, and the confusing
stage layout means you'll get lost unless you can memorise increasingly
labyrinthian world maps.
Once you do figure out what's going on, the game's puzzles are
disappointingly basic. The aforementioned funfair stage, for example,
reveals itself to be little more than a number of fetch quests - grab
this guy who's thinking about pineapples and drop him at the pineapple
statue, nab that electricity and use it to light up the fairy lights at
the top of the stage, and so on.
Because of this, Hohokum quickly becomes ho-hum, its initial
breathtaking introduction to its stylized worlds losing its impact as
you pass by for the umpteenth time, exasperated as you aimlessly wriggle
around trying to figure out where you have to go and what you have to
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In its defense, it does its best to ensure you explore the game world
with the addition of hidden eyes, which are located around each stage
and have to be collected by flying past them and making them open up.
These eyes are the most obvious game-like component - a tally of how
many you've collected on the pause screen marks the only traditional
indicator of progress in the game - but they also serve as a way of
encouraging the player to explore each area, in the hope that as they do
they'll also encounter new interactions.
But this is only a nudge in the right direction, leaving us with a
game that frustrates as often as it fascinates and nullifies many of the
positive vibes it initially sends out.
Hohokum is love at first sight - it will have you captivated for its
opening hours. And if you believe charm is more important than
challenge, you'll be enthralled throughout.
As game, however, it underperforms. The lack of signposting only
becomes more wearisome as the game progresses and the number of
'missions' left to find decreases. When you find yourself traipsing
through each area for the umpteenth time trying to figure out what's
left to do, the appeal wanes.
Priced at £9.99 / $14.99, Hohokum is ever so slightly on the
expensive side for what it offers. However, there's no denying its
beauty and therefore you should still give it a go if you're happy to
explore its beautiful, abstract worlds under the full understanding that
underneath them lies somewhat underwhelming gameplay.