Into another world.
Hohokum gives players control of a twisting, perpetually-moving eye that drags a long, color-changing tail behind it as they progress between unique and discrete worlds that offer color, sound, and a little mystery in everything. Exploring the game world offers about as much reward in the moment as it remains unrestrained and unclear in the next, which left me wondering whether or not PlayStation 4 owners have gotten everything they want out of the system’s indie lineup.
Obviously, Sony has focused on indie developers and the followers who support projects with dedication (and cash when asked) for PlayStation 4’s long-term development as a platform. Given the first year’s typically slow release schedule, these downloadables have kept the platform inherently central to my entertainment center where things change as software does. PlayStation 4’s ability to quickly launch into software makes independent gaming an easy distraction, but there’s a line every game seems to cross and Hohokum bears the unfortunate distinction of looking and sounding gorgeous while seemingly trying to lose the player in its wake.
A lot of gamers think of fast-action and arcade scores when it comes to addictive gameplay loops in short-burst indies that drive more action than inaction. That’s the point of switching between a lot of different software on PlayStation 4 in my mind. The downloadable offerings quickly become a slew of single-play distractions between larger retail-releases or the year-end blockbusters, and Hohokum has the unique spark needed to stick around on a hard drive packed with PlayStation Plus offerings and more.
When you first start the game, you’ll learn to control Hohokum’s speed with the DualShock 4’s face-buttons and get a handle for steering your character around with the left analog stick. You can open portals into new universes, activate sounds, and buzz around a level given the right environment and interactive set piece. Recently featured in a Los Angeles art gallery, Hohokum does provide the friendly, sublimely unthreatening interactivity that should be used to attract new players to modern video gaming, especially those who would never invest in a $400 console (or the other PlayStation hardware the game is available on).
Still, when you sit down to play it at home and realize that only your own attention span drives the action, no one will blame you if you put down the controller or switch to another game. While some levels feature a few friends to interact with and the entire soundtrack fits with each level’s visuals, some activities feel like dead-ends.
Hohokum gives you everything you need to enter a colorful and freeform world with little restraint toward the kind of art exploration that turns anyone into a finger-paint prodigy. That doesn’t make for the greatest video game, even if its charm lasts far longer than you’d think.
Try not to approach Hohokum with the mind to “complete it” or “solve it” as many avid players like to treat their video games. Instead, try to think of the experience as a lesson in how games still manage to combine music and moving visuals to instill an artistic push in another. I haven’t had the chance to ask them myself, but I’m sure the developers would say that they couldn’t create something like Hohokum in any other medium.
Code provided by publisher. Review based on PlayStation 4 version. Also available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.