New adventure/puzzler from Runic is a little gem
Hob (PC/PS4), 9/10
If, like me, you find yourself railing against the injustice of not being able to enjoy a PC release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then perhaps you can take small comfort in the little gem that is Hob, a new adventure/puzzler from Runic Games.
Much like Breath of the Wild, Hob is characterised by a world of beauty, puzzles, a mute hero and moments of unforgiving cruelty. The latter point is drilled home early on in the game, when our hero suffers an infection that leads to the loss of his arm and the subsequent replacement of said arm with a robotic counterpart that packs a punch that would make Mike Tyson flinch.
The lack of writing in Hob is easily the most jarring feature, with even the menu system featuring virtually no words, making it a chore to figure out the nature of items you've collected or even what your next objective is. Clearly, Hob is more concerned with painting a beautiful picture than telling a cohesive story.
While the lack of direction in the story can be frustrating at times, the zen-like art direction and sheer beauty of Hob makes it very difficult to remain upset. The vivid colours, inoffensive shapes and an incredible attention to detail make this game one of the most beautiful and relaxing games I have had the pleasure of experiencing.
Not content with just serving up a beautiful environment, Hob also gives us a land where the world itself is one giant, beautiful puzzle. Sometimes, all it takes is a single button press and the land around you will rearrange itself, vast cliffs and huge valleys will spring up right before your eyes, giving the game a breathtaking sense of scale.
The puzzles themselves are not overly complicated - but nonetheless satisfying to complete. Most of the puzzles are somewhat comparable to oversized rube-goldberg machines, asking you to rotate leviathan structures and teleport across vast trenches just to open a door.
One major complaint I have about Hob is that the fixed-perspective camera introduces another level of difficulty into the puzzle-solving and platforming that the developers didn't intend to be there. The lack of depth of field combined with the fixed-perspective camera means that often jumps can be mistimed, resulting in an untimely death.
The majority of Hob is a therapeutic experience, and a perfect game for those of us who like to play casually, as a way to unwind. There are a few frustrating moments, yes, but overall Hob is a solid recommendation from me.
New Ross Standard