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Hob Review: Reclamation

/ Oct 12th, 2017 No Comments

Hob Review

Trust is hard to come by, especially in video games. Now, more often than not, developers and publishers don’t put enough trust in players to figure things out. By overloading players with information, you lose some of the wonder and surprise you’d get in older games.

Hob puts a lot of trust in players to figure things out and make their own way in the game. Whether it is figuring out what you should be doing, how to find a way forward, or what the meaning of the story is, Hob lets players come to their own conclusion with minimal help. The result is a game full of surprise and excitement at every turn.

A World Eaten by Corruption

From the outset, there is a mystery to solve: what happened to the world? Most of it is missing, and what remains is corrupted by horrible, malignant life forms that ooze and pulse. It prevents traveling forward and hurts to touch, or attacks when threatened.

More mysterious is the golem that beckons you to follow it. What is its endgame? Why does it want you to follow it?

Before you can learn much, you’re attacked by the corruption. It takes your left arm, but luckily the golem sacrifices his own to make you whole.
 

Hob Review

After sacrificing part of itself, your golem guide wordlessly helps you in your journey.

With your new arm, you’re able to better explore and solve the mystery of the disappeared world. By exploring ruins, you’ll reclaim pieces of land submerged beneath the surface. Using the new tools at your disposal, you’ll find a way to purify the corruption.

With wits and courage, you’ll have to uncover the truth of what happened to your world and maybe how to save it.

Since Hob’s narrative is told wordlessly, it is up to you to unravel the mysteries inherent within the game. By keeping track of the subtle clues throughout the game, you learn exactly what happened. It is the deftness of the storytelling that you allows you to make intuitive leaps as you slowly rebuild the world.
 

Hob Review

It doesn’t become clear immediately, but snuffing out the source of corruption is your main goal.

Every piece you manage to save becomes another piece to the puzzle. By the end of the game the picture becomes clear, and you gain a real appreciation for how strong the story construction is because every hint and clue pointed toward the final reveal.

What makes Hob’s story more impressive is how reinforced it is by the gameplay. As you explore and solve the smaller puzzles of the world, you’re actively gaining more insight into the world’s history. Uncovered lost pieces give you a more robust understanding of the calamity that the corruption caused.

The Joy of Exploration

What makes Hob tick isn’t combat, which isn’t to say there is no combat. It’s there, and it is fantastic, with plenty of combat upgrades to unlock. There is a visceral nature to combat largely due to the delightfully gory deaths of enemies and the protagonist alike.

It isn’t easy as enemies are out for blood and constantly want you to die. There is a level of strategy to taking on the various enemies in the game, and patience pays off more than being flashy.

Despite how good the combat is, it punctuates the experience rather than drives it.
 

Hob Review

Combat is fun and visceral in Hob.

What Hob’s gameplay is really about is the joy and wonder of exploration. There is a great achievement and satisfaction that comes from exploring far and wide in Hob.

When you begin your journey, the world is only a small fraction of its former self. It is your duty to venture forth and put it back together. In order to achieve that, you need to search and find different temples both above ground and below.

Exploration unfolds as you solve puzzles around the world, whether that is besting a dungeon area or figuring out how to activate a mechanism in the environment. Every solution reveals more of the world, allowing you to explore further and solve more riddles.
 

Hob Review

Upgrades to your arm largely aid you in further exploring and restoring this breathtaking world.

While exhibiting some influences from The Legend of Zelda, Hob feels more Metroidvania-inspired. Every upgrade you gain helps improve your ability to explore and reveal more of the world.

From dashing to being able to grapple, the modest arsenal you accrue gives you the ability to restore the world. By continually putting the world back together and restoring lost sections, you are solving the biggest puzzle of them all: what caused this all to happen.

Overall

Hob is a hell of a game. It keeps you captivated from the moment you start the game until you reach its revelatory conclusion. Even at moments when you feel lost, you want to power through the roadblocks to continue rebuilding this world torn apart by corruption.

It is a rare experience where the narrative trusts the player completely to put the clues together on what happened to its world, but rarer still to create a world that is itself a puzzle to solve.

Hob is a game that does both, which is why this game is a must play for 2017.

Hob was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by the developer.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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HOB REVIEW: RECLAMATION

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall92%

GAMEPLAY9.5

While Hob has combat and it is satisfying as all hell, it isn’t its primary focus. Hob is more concerned with letting you explore and change its clockwork environment. It is rare where the entire world is a puzzle to solve yet Hob’s world is a mystery from the outset.

GRAPHICS9

Hob is a wonderfully imaginative world with awe-inspiring construction and a great color palette. It can suffer from some mild frame rate drops in a few spots.

SOUND9

Hob’s score creates a sense of wonder at every turn giving a whimsical life to this creative fantasy world.

STORY9.5

Told wordlessly, Hob’s narrative is subtle. Details take time to piece together yet everything becomes clear by the end letting you fully appreciate the mature storytelling approach that trusts the player to construct meaning.

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