A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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.
- 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
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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