#10 - HOB
Hob may have made my list by simply being in the right place at the right time. I played Hob after finishing a run of longer, more complicated, and exhausting games. My body was ready for a tight ten hour experience that didn’t require much thought. Hob was perfect for this.
Hob is a minimalistic 3D action platformer. It has a bit of a Zelda structure with some Metroid and Bastion thrown in there as well. The game starts with you controlling a character garbed in red that just woke up from some sort of slumber. You walk outside and are met with a very vibrant world. There is no dialogue or context for what is happening. The only thing you have to guide you is a robot who wants you to follow them. Eventually, you discover that the world is being overtaken by some purple goo stuff. That’s a very vague description, but I honestly don’t know what it is. Regardless, it’s not good as you soon find out by getting too close to one of the arm-like extensions growing out of the goo. You’re grabbed, and once you shake your way free, you find you’ve been poisoned by this weird goo. Your robot friend is not okay with that, though. Instead of letting the poison spread, they cut off your arm and replace it with their own arm. You then wake up for the second time with a shiny new robot arm. This becomes your “tool” for exploring the world.
Hob then opens up. Your robot buddy gives you a map and a place to go. Like I mentioned before, there is no spoken or written dialogue in the game. You are left to interpret the gestures of your robot buddy to figure out what he wants. This is a bit frustrating at first because there is no context for anything you’re doing. I will happily admit that this game does not pull this off as well as others, like Hyper Light Drifter for example. I finished the game without really understanding the consequences of what I went through. There are hidden “lore rooms” that seem to try and explain certain things about the world, but they are incredibly vague and gave me no insight into the world at all. While the nature of the world and the context for the current disaster was never made clear to me, Hob does a great job showing you what needs to be done in the moment. Through a little trial and error, you begin to learn how the world works.
Regardless of all of that, the biggest reason Hob made my list is because it’s just fun to play. The combat isn’t deep. You swing your sword, and occasionally use your robot arm to break shields. You can find upgrade schematics that you can purchase to give yourself different moves. Heart pieces, energy pieces and sword upgrades are scattered throughout the world like a traditional Zelda game. A lot of these upgrade pieces will be hidden in plain sight but will require an upgrade to reach, so I really enjoyed that an icon will appear on your map when you are close enough to them. This alleviates the need to remember where they were when you do acquire the needed upgrade. Exploring the world itself is also very fun. The map is big enough to create variety but small enough to never feel empty. You are almost always rewarded for exploring your surroundings.
Most of the gameplay revolves around environmental puzzles. The physical world in Hob is powered by an energy source. Puzzles have you connecting power sources to turn on switches that will shift landmasses in different ways that allow you to move on or find an area you otherwise could not reach. The actual puzzles themselves work well enough, but I loved the way the world was physically affected by the outcomes of these puzzles.
Unfortunately, the game does not perform well. (I played on PS4.) Too many times, the game broke in a way that required me to reload a checkpoint. There is a map glitch that turns your map into blobs of neon colors, and the only way to fix it is to completely restart the game. I also got a handful of blue screen crashes to the PS4 dashboard.
I clearly have many problems with Hob as a total package, but through a combination of playing it at the right time and just having a lot of fun exploring the world, it was an experience that I really enjoyed overall.
#09 - Tales of Berseria
Aaron (me) is a lover of games, Extra Life member, Twitch streamer, and husband. I have never written much before, so I apologize if things start a little rough. I hope to improve in time.