There aren’t enough ‘zen’ games out there. There’s a need for titles like Flower, Flow, Proteus and Dear Esther, games that encourage exploration and have no great sweeping aim for you to complete – they’re just there for you to relax with after a long day or a tough game. You just want to sit down, relax and immerse yourself in a world that asks nothing of you. It’s here that we find one of PlayStaion 4’s more unique titles on offer, Hohokum.
Developed by Honeyslug, the folks responsible for the rather cheeky and wonderful Frobisher Says on PlayStation Vita, Hohokum is an rather different title from what you’d expect. The only reason you can really tell that it might be by the same team is because of the wonderful art by Richard Hogg and the cheeky humour that rears its head in creature and level design. It’s really quite wonderful to sit back and enjoy.
Every level, of which three were on show, is a sight to behold. Despite being two-dimensional, they’re vast and beautiful works of explorable graphic design. You’ll always be finding something new to do and somewhere new to be. Despite having played it for around forty minutes, wondering over a little later I see that someone else playing has discovered something completely different that I managed to miss. These aren’t adaptive worlds, they’re just packed with secrets on a granular level.
But how do you explore these huge worlds, and what’s the aim of the game? Well, you’re in control of a big one-eyed rainbow snake that can wiggle its way through and around objects. You can speed up with the tap of a button and even generate little boosts by wiggling back and forth quickly. As for what all your exploring is for, it’s for fun. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s all about the desire to explore and enjoy yourself while relaxing.
And relax you shall as Hohokum is all about pushing the ‘zen’ atmosphere. Moving and changing direction alters the colour of the light bar on the PlayStation 4 controller, and the entire game is soundtracked by indie musicians from the Ghostly label – Tycho and Ghost Panda being two examples. Just imagine playing this in a darkened room with headphones on as the light bar illuminates it with a soft glow.
Hohokum won’t be arriving until early 2014, but it’s blissfully simple controls are easily transferable to PS Vita and PS3 too so you can enjoy its delights without having to worry about forking out for a PlayStation 4. If you love calming exploratory titles, it’s hard to imagine you not enjoying what Honeyslug has in store for you come next year.