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A string of good luck.
Standing out from the crowd of thirty other titles can be difficult for a tiny game like Hohokum, but on the suggestion from a colleague in the industry that it "was like flower," I immediately pulled away from whatever crap I was doing and held the three-staged demo of Hohokum in my hand. For a mere simple description, it's a game where you explore vividly colored worlds as a rainbow-colored string (is this going to be banned in Russia now?), but if Sony and developer Honeyslug have anything to say, they will likely appreciate the simplicity.
Nothing about Hohokum is stressful. There are no clearly laid-out goals, no flashing words and objectives blurting onto the screen. Failing is of no consequence; in fact, there isn't even a way to fail, per se. Hohokum is about pure exploration and delighting in the movement of the string, the quirky and bright reactions of the surrounding environment, and the relaxing soundtrack supporting all of it. In fact, the designers were so naturally inclined to use tracks from Ghostly International that Sony has signed up with independent label to bring their artists' music into the game.
Like flower and Journey, the experience of Hohokum is meant to be calming, almost zen-like in tone. In one level sparsely filled with mountains, cottages, and statues which collectively seemed like I was floating over an Air Bending sanctuary, I carelessly meandered about each nook and cranny, plucking seedlings from a white circle that looked like a dandelion.
The point of the level is to ring the tree-like doorbells above each house, gather the monks who come scurrying out onto the string, find golden seeds which the monks carry in their hands, and then guide the monk to the mountains at the top of the level. There, they turn the golden seeds into kites. Attempting to explain why this happens ruins the magic.
Every environment in Hohokum has a subtle beauty. The indigo night sky level has lamps that light when your string touches them and luminescent bugs that follow your string until they hit a patch of black. When the patch is completely filled with bugs, it reveals a constellation. Then in the aquatic level, a mermaid is fearful of a hungry octopus in the shape of the anchor. So if you lure fish into a patch of coral with rust-like plankton and then drag the fish to the octopus, it will eat the rust-infected fish and become rusted itself, releasing the mermaid from its prison.
It's in these moments of intuition and inspiration that Hohokum reminds me of Sound Shapes; in fact, the levels themselves almost look like they were professionally crafted from Sound Shapes itself. Hohokum arrives for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita some time in 2014.