The start of the fall season usually marks the start of what many consider to be the “Gauntlet” of Juggernaut game releases. This year is no different. But in addition to the big releases like Gotham Knights, God of War RagnarokAnd Callisto protocolthere are many smaller games coming out around this time that can be diamonds in the rough.
Hokko life is a cozy farm/life sim that mirrors much of what animal crossing does and is entering version 1.0 (it was available on PC in Early Access June 2021). While it offers an interesting mix of ideas, such as Such as deeper customization options, a larger area to explore outside of the village and town, and a variety of bugs and items to collect, there are many games better than what Hokko life tries to do.
Hokko life opens almost exactly like this animal crossing for the Nintendo Gamecube. You begin by creating and customizing your character, although the suite is surprisingly limited for a game that later introduces deeper levels of customization in other areas. Once you’ve chosen your hair and other features, there’s a very brief cutscene of your character on a move and… you’re at your destination – a town in need of sprucing up.
You’ll quickly find yourself at the local inn, chatting with the residents and moving to the nearby village before setting out on a quest to revitalize the area and attract new citizens and businesses. It’s a very ordinary introduction, albeit an accessible one that doesn’t burden you with too much information or too many mechanics.
Hokko life starts slowly, maybe slower than other games of the genre. For the first few days, you’re told to just “enjoy life” while you wait for something to happen. However, there isn’t much to do during those first few days other than chop down trees, pick flowers, and catch bugs. Mining, digging, fishing and crafting tools will all be given to you a few days after your arrival. It means standing around a lot or going to bed very early. It’s an odd and unnatural design choice that causes you to cut most of your first week or so short just to get to what comes after.
As you progress, unlock more blueprints, meet new anthropomorphic animals searching for new horizons, and generally explore the world around you, the gameplay loop stays about the same as when you first got off the train. From cutting down trees for wood and planting new trees to produce more wood (there are a lot chopping and planting), mining rocks for ore and charcoal, fishing, catching butterflies, and crafting new designs and items to customize the village and its homes, there aren’t too many large Surprises along the way for life sim fans.
While it’s a nice idea to train players into mechanics this way, it’s a double-edged sword. It gives them time to understand things, but it also takes a long time to get into the flesh Hokko life. Once you finally – and really – arrive, you’re presented with an extremely simple and at times frustratingly obscure suite of mechanics and systems.
Even helping new residents move in the beginning is not as easy as it seems: gather materials, choose a design, place a house and wait for it to be built. Your first new citizen will be given to you, but the rest will require you to meet him at the inn. The game never tells you this, which means you could easily miss out on new shopkeepers and other interesting characters, leaving you to wander aimlessly through the village.
Despite its simplicity and initially blunt nature, there’s a lot to do Hokko life Once you reach the middle parts of spring. The map will start to open, and you’ll gain access to new areas like the mines and the farm (if you focus on the right gameplay challenges, like waving at a certain number of neighbors or picking “X” flowers).
The problem with this burgeoning map size is that Hokko life has long Loading screens everywhere. There’s a lot of back and forth buying and selling things, getting crafting materials, speaking to one dweller before running to another to deliver an item. This is normal for a life sim, the problem is that these transitions are rough at best.
The town square is separate from the village, which requires a loading screen. A loading screen is required to get from the village to the beach. Going north to the mines requires three loading screens. Etc. It all works to create a rather unfriendly user experience and although time is not the enemy here as it is in animal crossing (You can just sleep in until the next day or even into the evening) There might be a bit too much traversal and thumb-twisting.
Hokko life but can have its relaxing moments. There are times when mining rocks for charcoal, copper, and iron, planting and tending a forest or garden, or creating a unique furniture design puts you in a beautiful state of flow where the loop is not only fun, but also feels satisfying. The soundtrack also adds a layer of comfort.
The songs are very easy to listen to and quite comfortable; They help capture the overall zen aesthetic of the game. The sound design is well done too, full of soothing sounds like gently crashing waves or birds chirping happily in the distance, all blending with the soundtrack to create natural soundscapes that make every biome and season feel alive and soothing.
Although the game has been in Steam Early Access for more than a year, there are still bugs that plague the overall experience, at least during our review period. Early in my playthrough, a bridge leading to a new area just disappeared completely. To reach the resources on the other side I wasted a whole week in game just to plant trees, harvest them and rebuild the bridge. The game even made the very bizarre decision to prioritize the growth of a tree placed next to the bridge rather than building the bridge.
There were also issues with the in-game recipe shop offered by master crafter Sally. Often the game wouldn’t load the themes offered and I had to restart the game twice before it fixed itself. It was a very bizarre situation that really hampered the experience.
Hokko Life Review – The Verdict
- Great sound design.
- Outstanding soundtrack.
- Crafting experience is surprisingly deep and offers a lot of freedom.
- No racing against the clock, whether in real time or in game
- Villagers are not well designed.
- The daily rotations of the shops are extremely limited.
- A few too many loading screens.
- The early game is slow with no clear direction.
Hokko life may add some quality of life features to the life/farming sim genre such as: B. Mass building and a robust crafting system, but it ultimately feels directionless and lacks the charm that many other genre titles have.
Some of its systems are unique and add a new layer to the traditional mechanics that other games should use, but there’s a lot of waiting “to get things done” and it’s often unclear what’s required to advance the game . Hokko life can sometimes be fun; you just have to really work for it.
[Note: Team 17 provided the copy of Hokko Life used for this review.]