Game Review: Take a magical journey in Hob [PS4, PC]
In 2015, Runic Games announced its turn to Action-Adventure with Hob, a game that would have no dialogue whatsoever. The idea of Runic Games was for the scenario to be gradually revealed to the player while exploring the world. The problem is that it was an entirely new venture for the developers because they were known for developing different genres. Does Hob manage to stand out from the mass or is it a forgetful experience?
As we mentioned above, the plot in the Hob is not revealed by dialogue or text such as diaries, books etc. You control a creature with a red hood, which is probably called Hob, although it never clearly mentions its name. In the beginning you will be guided by a huge robot that has a weird, incomprehensible speech and uses gestures to show you where to go. Your goal is to clear your planet from a purple substance and infects the creatures and plants around you. After the protagonist loses his hand and the robot gives it its own, you are free to explore the world and enjoy the surroundings around you.
Gameplay is divided into two basic elements, exploration and battle. The world is cleverly configured so you can unlock new areas according to the skills you have acquired. For example, in the first areas you will find several walls that prevent you from proceeding until you have the opportunity to throw punches that will turn them to dust. Each area you unlock is full of secrets and puzzles. To proceed to the next area you must perform a series of seemingly small actions such as finding a specific lever, pushing it and unlocking a staircase that will take you to the next area of the map.
As you roam the planet you will encounter many creatures like extraterrestrial giraffes and the remnants of other robots that were destroyed long ago. You will need to investigate each area very carefully as everywhere there are hidden objects and power-ups for your character. Unfortunately, exploration suffers from the lack of dialogue. The only way to understand what you have to do is through your map that does not make it clear that you have to go from point A to point B to make things more challenging. The world is configured so that you can move in many directions but only one will take you to the next area and without a way to know where to go you will end up moving in circles several times until you find the next puzzle. Moreover, the camera does not really help the situation as it is isometric and you can’t rotate or edit it, which will make it difficult for you to move, at least until you get used to it.
As for the battle system, you have at your disposal a mechanical hand and a sword to face your enemies. Both weapons can be upgraded for more damage or for new skills. For example, your hand can throw stronger punches that destroy the enemy shields and can also turn into a shield that protects you from attacks. In addition to your weapons you can upgrade your health points used for the attacks of your mechanical hand. This is why you will need to gather hearts from infested flowers and green spheres that you find in the enemy corpses and in some obelisks.
The battle system is not very difficult to learn. Each enemy has a specific behavior that you can easily learn. For example, there are some giant armadillo that you can’t hit if you don’t break their shield first, with your punch, and some giants that twist their bat everywhere until they get tired and give you the chance to attack them.
Pricing & Availability
Hob is available on PS4 and PC on Steam for $20.
Graphics & Sounds
The aesthetics and graphics of Hob have their own charm that will leave you speechless. Runic Games has paid great attention to detail to the point where there are animations for everything. In addition to animations, the world is really gorgeous. From green meadows full of extraterrestrial deer and giraffes and full of ravines with scorpions in every corner in dark caves and underground engine rooms full of bats, the world does not disappoint aesthetically and is certainly the game's strong point.
Hob's soundtrack is produced by Matt Uelemen, who is known for Starcraft, Diablo I and II, and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. As in these games, here too the soundtrack is great thanks to the use of orchestral and electronic instruments that perfectly match the combination of tribal, physical and mechanical elements your planet has. The problem is that you will only hear tracks at specific moments, such as while solving a major puzzle, because exploration and battles are mainly accompanied by ambient sounds and effects.
Runic Games has made a remarkable effort in their first steps in Action-Adventure genre. Their emphasis on detail, tremendous aesthetics, gorgeous graphics and well-made puzzles can’t hide Hob's small shortcomings however, especially with regard to the combat system. Hob will be a love and hate relationship for you, because one moment you will feel that you are playing a masterpiece and the other you'll have difficulties with the platforming and the isometric camera. If you want an aesthetically beautiful title that is unique and challenging, then Hob has a lot to offer. Let us know your thoughts and impressions in the comments below.
Hob screenshots (above) and trailer (below)