Mechanisms of a dying world
An unnamed protagonist, and a few minutes from the beginning, even without an arm, a mysterious robot who, after saving him from a deadly infestation, wiping the arm above, gives him a mechanical limb from the big potentiality, and a mechanically interconnected world, suffering from a plague that manifests itself through purple escalations.
The narrative of Hob’s all here, and we’re not exaggerating: In homage to Fumito Ueda titles and video games than thirty years ago, where the narrative played a role of supporting actors, only useful in giving the floodgates to the events, Runic Games has focused on minimalism, allowing players to dig in the darkest pesto for almost the whole of the adventure.
And even when the story seems to give signs of life, it actually offers more questions than answers, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth: This design choice will probably be appreciated by that segment of players who prefers to act pad in hand rather than reading, to interpret vague signals scattered around the game world rather than following a real logical thread.
For our part, we are convinced supporters of the importance of fiction in the video game context, we have found this development team’s choice, which is devoid of motivation for the hooded protagonist of the game and greatly limits the degree of player identification with its digital avatar .
The product is no mystery to resume and homage to the Zelda saga, which, however, has always been able to count on a strong lord and charismatic characters, even though there are no elaborate plots: here, on the other hand, the curiosity of to see what is behind, for the joy of the great puzzles, without ever fonding the hero who will impersonate or feel the need to deepen the knowledge of the game world and the beings who inhabit it.
Even when it comes to murals and clues, they do not understand either nature or meaning, making them very fine to themselves.
Not that we expected an Oscar-winning plot from an independent product and strongly focused on resolution of puzzles, but Hob’s narrative compartment seems to us a wasteful occasion.
A clockwork world
The strong point of Runic Games production is certainly represented by the many puzzling puzzles: the mechanical nature of the world that unfolds before the protagonist makes many parts of it interconnected, so the resolution of a puzzle will lead to the birth of another, and, above all, revealing new portions of the map.
The sense of discovery and wonder is continuous and, given the proper proportions, we have been able to experience family feelings at certain times of the adventure: we were not even playing any Dark Souls, we went to areas of the map previously hinted but unreachable, with a sense of astonishment and an “ahhh but then it was from here that you had to pass” that fans of the Hidetaka Miyazaki saga will know too well.
Not so good, unfortunately, the combat system, and this is a paradox if we think about how many hours of fun we have given both Torchlight, creatures of the same development team: Hob will always use the same two combo, just to dodge attacking enemies or turning around them in an attempt to find a way out in their defenses.
There is no trace of more elaborate tactics, and everything is reduced to a mashing button too soon and far less gratifying: the gaming structure is obviously focused on exploration and resolution of puzzles, but nevertheless a combat system most enjoyable would have added to the gaming experience, making the moments when you are forced to fight less tedious.