Among the sea of games at PAX East there was one game that, for me, stood above the rest, that game is called Hob – an action adventure game developed by Runic Games (best known for Torchlight and Torchlight II). Hob was a complete surprise to me, I literally knew nothing about it, I chose to stand in line simply because the art looked cooled, but boy am I glad I did.
Hob takes place on a vivid colorful alien world teeming with plant life and all sorts of bizarre creatures. Have you ever wondered what a bipedal deer would look like? Or a giraffe goat thing? Well Hob has that answer for you. Hob is a wordless narrative which only adds to the to mystique. It leaves the player wondering what happened on this world and tasks you with decipher the lore, which if I’m being honest, looks like it could be deep. You can interact with your surroundings and some of the wild life spread across the game. As you explore this bizarre world your character stumbles upon a gauntlet which seems to have some tie to the old technology riddled throughout the world.
Taking its cue from games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, the player must solve basic puzzles while hacking and slashing enemies to progress further. You can attain upgrades for your health and power bar, in the form of orbs, which are hidden throughout the game, giving the player a reason to explore every area thoroughly. You can also upgrade your main weapon, a sword, and the gauntlet I mentioned earlier. For the demo we were given full upgrades for both the sword and the gauntlet, so I’m not sure how those entirely work. The gauntlet acts as your main tool: it opens doors, acts as a shield, allows you to warp around and can be charged up for a sweet smash attack. The combat feels fluid and the powers play a key role in defeating tougher enemies, the primary example of this being the ability to warp through enemies, which allows you to stun them for a bit, giving the player a chance to freely land a few punishing blows.
The demo ran for about 30-45 minutes, you were allowed to explore three different areas and find six hidden secrets, of which I sadly only found four. The first area was a tower with piston like lock mechanisms on either side. To unlock the tower you had to slide blocks attached to the tower to reach the surrounding pistons, the pistons seemed to return the power to the door allowing the player to open up the next area. Once that was completed you were able to descend into the world below. This is when Hob really caught my eye, as you descend you encounter creepy deformed creatures, limping around, eerily staring at you from the background. As you continue through the depths you find dead bodies and see more of these odd creatures roaming about. This area left me with an unsettling feeling that something bad happened here and I shouldn’t stick around to long lest I become a permanent resident. After some platforming you arrive at the end where you return to the world above. This section is covered in the aforementioned bipedal deer and you can fight a larger creature in pseudo boss battle. As you reach the pillar to the end of the demo the world lifts above in a clockwork house fashion showing the World Machine, the games primary focus according to the people I spoke with.
Hob, has a lot going for it, but it’s not without its issues. My main gripe with the demo was the camera. The camera is static which can leave you in some funky spots during combat or when solving a puzzle. Several times I got was surrounded and pinned by a ledge covering my character as well as the enemy. I couldn’t see what I was fighting causing me to take some unnecessary damage. In addition to that, during some of the platforming I couldn’t get a good idea where I was spatially resulting in me falling to my death. It wasn’t bad enough that it hindered my enjoyment of the game, but it’s worth noting.
Overall, Hob has a lot of potential and is full of mysteries I can’t wait to uncover. I am really glad I stumbled on their booth and took a chance on a game I had never heard of, Hob is coming to Steam, and PS4. It doesn’t yet have a release date, but I will be anticipating its release and picking it up when I can.
Images courtesy of Runic Games