Saturday 20 December 2014

Hohokum: It's gaming but not as we know it

Published 30/08/2014 | 18:42

Hohokum for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita
Hohokum for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita

HOW much enjoyment you derive from the quirky Hohokum will depend directly on your expectations going in. If gaming to you is defined by high scores, objectives or clear evidence of a narrative - just move along. Nothing to see here.

HOHOKUM, PS4/PS3/PS Vita, rating: 8/10, age: 3+

Hohokum sits in an uneasy niche that has little in common with gaming's best-sellers but we are all the richer for its ilk. Many will be repelled by labelling it an experiential game - where the journey and the sights are more important than what you do.

In simple terms, it plays like Nokia classic Snake meets the barmy animation of Terry Gilliam circa Monty Python. You're dropped into a world full of abstract shapes with no map (literal or figurative), no sense of what happens next.

You quickly grasp your snake is in constant motion and can only be slowed, sped up or turned. Objects in the world sometimes react to a nudge from your head, triggering animations or extra layers to the delightful soundtrack.

hohokum.jpg

Get past the dreary first level and the designers' imaginations spring to life, unfolding psychedelic vistas worthy of an acid trip. A multitude of creatures and people dot the landscapes, some needing your help, some there purely as wacky set-dressing.

Figuring out which is which is part of the fun, as nested, multi-step puzzles sit alongside pure theatrical displays. Equally, this exposes the game's frustrations, with unclear goals and a labyrinthine network of level exits and entrances guaranteed to confuse.

Unlike Sony stablemate Entwined, a much-hyped arty game that was little more an interactive screensaver, there is much to do and see in the bizarre universe of Hohokum. From the dancing waiters who surf on your snake's back to the monkeys who throw seeds at an evil elephant (no, really), each new world brings startling sights to see.

Who needs illegal substances when you can plug in headphones, sit up close to the screen and get a fix of Hohokum?

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