Hob (PC Review)
In Hob, you play as….a…hob? A thing named Hob? One of the first issues with Hob is the story is told through in-game, in-engine cutscenes, all in a nonsensical fairy language. You’re forced to parse out what is happening in Hob’s beautiful game world through context clues and environmental storytelling only. And what I’ve been able to piece together is that your world full of magical golems and gorgeous rolling hillscapes is being corrupted by some dark poisonous power. Without going into too much detail into Hob’s story, as lacking as it is, you’re sent on a quest to defeat these corrupted entities across the world and restore order. I think.
Hob plays like an homage to isometric Legend of Zelda, complete with using your sword to hack at trees and brush to uncover health globes, with the environmental puzzle solving of a God of War. There were sections where you’re pushing a battery block around where I wanted to hold down a button to charge a non-existant kick to push the block further and farther (directly out of God of War). The problem is the fighting, even at the “very hard” difficulty, is fairly simplistic. I was unable to attain any of the sword or cloak upgrades, but I certainly didn’t need them because, and here comes the worst part, there are no boss fights in the game. Not a one. There are larger enemies that take more than a few whacks, but even at the very end of the game, when it would make sense to at least have some kind of final showdown, it ends weakly with a head-scratching cutscene and rolls credits.
An issue with the beauty, however, Hob isn’t exactly stable. The game was flickering madly with screen tearing and texture pop-in at regular intervals. I think it was more my machine and graphics setting as I had everything set to “very high” my first few days, but even when I took it down to simply “high”, there was regular flickering. Whether running through the world or in the middle of the final cutscene, I was regularly sending bug reports to Runic via email at the end of my night run. Over the eight hours, it took to beat the game, the game crashed at least six times. The value of live streaming a game you’re reviewing is that I can simply point at a clip and say: “Here.” Game crashing…again: https://clips.twitch.tv/MoralTacitTigerKappaClaus
Hob is an amazing little journey; the actual gameplay is enjoyable and when I was running from place to place, solving puzzles and slaying murk beasts, I was enjoying myself. I just wish I knew the WHY of the whole thing. I appreciate they were trying to go with the silent protagonist and environmental storytelling, but as they didn’t do a great job with it, I confusedly watched the final cutscene like, “Well, I guess that…all happened?” Between the technical issues and the unfortunate lack of story, the gameplay itself having no real payoff or boss characters to fight dampens Hob’s potential greatness.