This delightful title from Runic Games, the creators of Torchlight and Torchlight 2, offers a very relaxing experience with a wonderful atmosphere and some light RPG elements. Hob provides very little direction for the player and it can feel a little frustrating, but the overall feel of the game is one of intrigue and awe. Lovely visuals, great music and smooth gameplay leave you with something that feels wonderful to play.
In Hob, you awaken in a world that appears to be in a state of ruin, with a strange infestation taking hold over parts of it. You must navigate your way through the dangers present in order to discover why you are here and how you can transform this world. Along the way, you gather items for upgrades to your weapons, abilities and health, with some guidance from a large friendly robot. There are some puzzle solving elements to encounter as well as some unchallenging, but very smooth, combat scattered about the world. You are rewarded for the rigorous exploration of each area and searching every corner reveals numerous items and upgrade points.
At the start, it is extremely unclear what your goal is. This leads to the beginning feeling quite slow going and a bit tricky to get into with regards to the gameplay. To start with you are simply learning the basic mechanics and moving from one place to another, but it can feel a little underwhelming at times when puzzle solutions feel out of reach or you’re just feeling a bit lost about what you’re actually here to achieve. This feeling is somewhat mitigated by the fact the world is very enjoyable to explore and the movement feels great, making the general frustrations of the game feel like less of an issue since the world you’re wandering through is a joy to be in.
Your main tools are in the form of a sword and a mechanical arm. Both can be used in combat but the mechanical arm is what is used to solve a lot of the puzzles, open up secrets and access new areas. As you explore you find caches that give you the upgrade currency, although this currency can also drop from enemies that you defeat. Other items around that map are required to achieve certain upgrades but several combat upgrades are available with this basic currency at the beginning of the game.
Hob has lovely graphics. The beautiful world design is enhanced by a palette of rich colours and wonderful character design. Adopting a slightly cartoonish style, giving the characters some anatomically exaggerated features, continues to add to the wonderfully childlike feel of the game and is what lends Hob some of its tranquil atmosphere. The lighting is superb and gives the world a soft appearance, further contributing to the relaxing nature of the game as a whole.
There is minimal use of sound throughout the game. The music is light and predominantly in the background, with it being almost unnoticeable much of the time. This is not a discredit for the most part, although, the game can feel oddly empty at times because of it. There is no voice acting or any dialogue, with communication between the characters occurring with some sounds, but mostly relying on visual cues.
Hob is a great game. It encourages exploration and features some well thought out and interesting puzzles that don’t necessarily present a significant challenge but do provide enjoyment in the way they are assembled and solved. A chilled out experience with no failure state, that presents the player with a beautiful, intriguing world and well-paced progression. For the price tag, the game features a sufficiently long enough story, likely reaching completion in around 10 hours, but there is minimal re-playability. Adorable and great fun, but perhaps not ideal for those who seek challenge.