Hohokum is a colorful, semi-abstract world for players to explore as the look for creative ways to interact with the game, according to developers Richard Hogg and Ricky Haggett.
Playing as a snake-like creature, players slither effortlessly through bright and beautiful spaces populated by strange, abstract objects. In one level, we experienced the Kite Village, which was populated by clouds, tree-like structures and little wheels that we could snake through, ricochet off or make pop just by brushing our body up against it. There were also little human-like creatures flying giant kites that resembled the colorful snake. In another level named Sponge Land, we encountered abstract fish, a monster that's a cross between a squid and an anchor (and "squanchor") and a mermaid-like creature that resembles a dim sum.
"A big part of this game is this expressiveness and the exuberance of the character."
The game is littered with quirky and cute interactions — when the player swims through an underwater area, fish start attaching themselves to its body. If the player swims by a squanchor, it will eat a fish from the body and fall into a food-induced sleep. Flying through clouds will produce lots of little clouds, and some of the clouds will transform into cloud animals that walk through the sky. When we tried this, we created a cloud alligator and a cloud aardvark.
"In video games, people are very used to being told what to do and following a kind of breadcrumb trail of objectives," Haggett told Polygon. "When we started showing the game publicly, we saw how people responded to the game world and finding their own things to do in it where the rewards are kind of intrinsic.
"A big part of this game is this expressiveness and the exuberance of the character. It feels like doodling a line or flying a kite — everything in the game has been designed around this sense of playfulness and performance. So, rather than having objectives where you must do this thing, it's more about exploration and being creative."
Hogg told Polygon that the core of the game is about being creative and enjoying being in these spaces. Every area has its own unique elements and is accompanied by music that aims to enhance the experience. If a player really wants to find objectives in the game, then there are a few that can be found, such as the seed-collecting mechanic in the Kite Village. However, the developers say Hohokum is about losing yourself in the game world and just enjoying the experience.
"It's about relaxing in a space and just enjoying the experience and the music, instead of trying to complete it to make progress," Hogg said. "You don't have to unlock one bit to get to another. You can go wherever you like."
Hohokum is coming to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.