Hohokum

(i)

 

Beautifully odd puzzle journey requires patience, tenacity.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game's overall tone is neither positive nor negative.

Positive role models

The point of the game is to solve puzzles. The characters within each level are neither positive nor negative role models but instead are simply part of the puzzle itself.

Ease of play

The controls are as simple as they come, and with no way to die, it's easy to explore. The lack of overall map and guidance on what you should be doing can be extremely frustrating.

Violence & scariness

Violence is so cartoonish that kids may not even register it. One level has electricity than can zap characters into a black silhouette that drifts down the screen. There's a fish that eats other fish, spitting out their skeletons, and an orangutan-type creature that throws things at another creature. 

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Hohokum is a beautiful downloadable puzzle adventure game with no instructions, no help, and no way to know whether you're on the "right track." The ultra-simple controls (you can complete the game with one stick and one button) make it accessible to players of all ages and easy to pick up even for non-gamers. The puzzles are another story entirely. With no guidance, they're best solved by drifting through the landscape, touching everything you can, and hoping you stumble across the solution. Some levels require almost no skill at all to solve, whereas some require a bit more expertise with a controller. This is best geared toward older kids who like lower-pressure gameplay and are patient enough to explore without clear objectives and constant rewards.

What's it about?

HOHOKUM casts you as Long Mover, a snake-like creature (developers call it "kite-like") that soars through the environment, interacting with objects along the way. The game's loose objective is to free one of these creatures from more than a dozen strange and mesmerizing worlds by solving puzzles along the way. But these aren't your average puzzles, and there's no assistance to guide you on what to do. Instead, you float around picking up characters and interacting with objects and the background.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Hohokum is visually stunning and beautifully scored. Zipping around with Long Mover, whose body parts change color based on the direction they're headed, is like a meditative journey ... until you try to solve the puzzles. Some of them are obvious and quick, whereas others might leave you searching a gray (or green or polka-dotted) landscape forever for a clue as to what to do next until your goal becomes clear or you become too frustrated to continue. Online walk-throughs of the levels are bound to be a necessity for the game, but there's something to be said for the moment you figure out a stage on your own, and the final level cut scene announces the details of the creature you've freed. The worlds are lovely and accentuated by a gorgeous soundtrack. You may find yourself lighting street lamp creatures or bouncing between objects that look like orange hamburgers. It will be strange, mysterious, and exasperating. For example, look for the 170 or so (usually) disembodied eyes that you'll need to open along the way. Weird.

If there's one primary failing to Hohokum, it's the navigation between the worlds. You can travel from world to world through portals, or you can head to the main menu and hunt down a portal from there. Either way, you don't really know where you're going until you're pretty much already there. It's frustrating when you're trying to find new levels or those you need to replay. Hohokum is delightful, infuriating, peaceful, and challenging. For kids with lots of patience, it's a worthwhile journey.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the characters in Hohokum. How are they like real-life people and animals? What purpose do they serve in the game?

  • Make up stories for each of the levels. What might actually be happening? 

  • Draw your own characters and see whether you can create your own level through drawing and storytelling.

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Price:$14.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date:August 12, 2014
Genre:Puzzle
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
ESRB rating:E10+ for Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence

This review of Hohokum was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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