Written by G. Russell
One Game A Week is a bunch of words from my brain to yours about whatever game has been occupying my time the most over the last 7 days. Once a week, EVERY week for the duration of 2015. God help us
As you might be able to tell from pretty much all of my posts (and our Twitter, should you follow us there) since its release, I’ve struggled to play anything else but Bloodborne. I’ve sank over 130 hours into it now, spread across two different builds, and I’m still going back for more every single night. Be that helping out other people with particularly troublesome bosses (instant summons outside Rom and Martyr, in case you were looking to do the same), continuing on with the You Died co-op playthrough or hammering back through the game for a 4th time with my arcane/skill build. I’ve been spending the past couple of evenings mastering a few areas that have always given me particular trouble, for instance last night I wanted to focus on working out a reliable strategy for the hunter trio that you meet when you arrive in-oh God I’m talking about Bloodborne again.
Right. Sorry. Hohokum is flipping wonderful. Arriving amidst a blitzkrieg of fantastic Playstation Plus titles this month (also including the sublime Guacamelee), it’s perhaps one of those titles that you’d look at the screenshots of and think “hmm, not for me…”, because, let’s face it, it’s weird as all hell, but if you’re reading this and you’ve yet to have a go – just do it.
It’s a game that is laughably simple yet bewilderingly deep all at once. A game that is simultaneously pointless and yet driven by a charming narrative. A game that tells you almost nothing but gives you so much in return. And it’s a game that would have you thinking that it will be entirely throwaway but actually left me with a lump in my throat more than once.
At its most basic level, Hohokum sees you playing as a wiggly line that drifts around a collage of occasionally interactive elements, bumping into stuff while Boards of Canada play on shuffle in the background. You’ll have no idea what you’re currently doing or even what you’re supposed to be doing for a good half an hour. During that time, when you do achieve something, you’re not quite sure if you actually have. Or if you were supposed to. Or what, if anything, has now changed. And it is glorious. We, the videogame consumers, often heap praise upon games that don’t hold our hands. By that margin, Hohokum is up there with the best of them.
In time though, you start to piece it together. You’re a sort of snake thing, and from the game’s opening hub world (or sometimes from hubs within hubs, look, it’s weird, ok?) you can wriggle your way through portals and into a series of fascinating landscapes. A bamboo forest, a carnival, a cave, a wedding party standing on a tiered tower suspended above a lake of wine. Just the usual. Hidden within each level is another snake, a snake pal, if you will, and your job is to rescue them. You do so by exploring the area, discovering the puzzle hidden within by bumping into stuff and then solving that puzzle. Usually by accident. Once you’ve rescued your snake friend, you’re treated to a lovely storyboard-style bit of backstory about them accompanied by their name in huge letters. Then they follow you around for a bit as you do a few celebration loops through the air. Two friends, reunited, floating about in a bizarre world together for the briefest of moments. When you find the exit portal, they drift off, leaving you alone again as you emerge into another strange and alien environment.
Those are the moments that almost break my heart.
So, Hohokum is sort of nothing yet everything all at once.The fact that I’ve spent more time this week floating around as a lonely wiggly line than I have spent shooting Nazi’s in Wolfenstien : The Old Blood probably says more about me, as I meander towards middle age, than I’d like…