Eurogamer Expo 2013: Hohokum hands-on
It’s both encouraging and a little worrying that after having played fifteen minutes of Honeyslug’s whimsical PlayStation 3, 4 and Vita exclusive, Hohokum, I’m not entirely sure what was going on.
I do know that I was controlling some sort of flying, rainbow coloured snake, and that by gliding directly into objects in the sky – be they trees, strange spheres or wobbly armed people – I could make things happen. The trees twirled and spat out giant acorns, the spheres blossomed and opened up portals into new areas, and the people hopped on-board my psychedelic snake-train and collected those acorns with a joyful dance.
The airy, clear sky area in which I begun this surreal trip gave no clear objectives, but this lack of guidance in a world so pleasantly vibrant was an invitation for experimentation. Only after having toyed with the reactive, beautifully bold scenery for a good ten minutes did I discover anything tantamount to progression. The jelly-limbed passengers that I now taxied on my back seemed to want dropping-off on green platforms high in the sky, where they would take great pleasure in turning those acorns I’d just collected for them into kites. Yes, you read that correctly – acorn kites.
I never found out what happens once all of Hohokum’s inhabitants have been transported up into the stratosphere – I accidently slid through a portal to a new area before I could finish ferrying them – but boy did it spark some surreal speculation in my now inspired right hemisphere. Maybe, I thought, it would have granted me with a solitaire-style completion screen, but instead of cards cascading across the monitor, Neapolitan flavours of ice cream would have streamed forth in glistening scoops and balls. Or perhaps it would have opened up a new stage, one entirely based around a kite festival in which every kite was made from woodland detritus – squirrel’s tails, browned leaves and mossy twigs floating high. For all I know it would have played out the animated Beatles’ film, Yellow Submarine, and let me weave my way inbetween Ringo, George, John and Paul, ruffling their bowl-cuts on my way.
It says so much about Hohokum that none of these suggestions sounded stupid to me after having finished playing it. There’s a delirium-inducing amount of charm in the sweet, vivid shading of its stages that invites your mind to wander into some wonderful, but strange places.
The second stage that I accidentally ended up in had a deep blue, night time backdrop – a strong contrast to the crisp, light feel of the first. Here I simply played with Hohokum’s controls, quickly alternating between the right and left triggers, these being the inputs to send my snake into a quick clockwise/anti-clockwise dash. By doing this I found that I could propel him forward at an exhilarating speed, which was fun for a few minutes. Maybe I was supposed to be collecting trash from some lamp-lit street below. Or possibly I should have rose to the moon, coiled around it, squeezed out a coconut and cracked it on the top of some snow-peaked mountain in the distance. Who knows?
I walked away from Hohokum wide eyed and mystified. I was, as I told you at the beginning of this hands-on, both encouraged and a little worried about how bizarre and abstract the experience was. But considering the monumental grin on my face as I slowly waddled out of Sony’s booth, dazed and confused, I’m leaning heavily towards encouraged.