Hob's picturesque world got my attention; its fun gameplay mechanics held it until the game was finished. And all the way throughout, I kept wondering why does it remind me of Bastion so much, because the more I think about it, the less similar the two games are. 😅
Without any explanation, our protagonist appears in a strange yet wonderful world with only a decrepit robot for company. You're free to run around and explore, and the fun begins right there. There are many open-world games on the market today, because that's the Most Bestest Trend right now, often with huge worlds that don't actually have anything interesting in them.
That's not the case with Hob: the world is tightly designed and cohesive, and as your skills increase, so does the area you have access to, with various shortcuts to areas previously explored opening up all the time. There are no dull bits in the landscape, and quite often it simply is a joy to behold (and run around in). Even though I normally tend to play the main storyline and move on to a different game (or a different hobby), this time I felt compelled to just let the story objectives be and run around the map for a bit more. And when I got stuck (which happened once or twice), I went exploring in areas I'd already visited, reveling in the weird landscapes, hoping to stumble upon what to do next. Normally I'd just google it.
The gameplay itself is simple: there is platforming, puzzles, and combat, all of which are pleasant and rewarding yet not unnecessarily complicated. The combat system illustrates this well: you have your big mechanical robot-hand and a sword. Nothing else. You do progressively unlock various abilities for both, but they come at a pace that lets you get comfortable with one thing before you encounter the next.
I also liked the storytelling. Not a single sentence is spoken during the entire game - all the communication comes in the form of expressive gestures, mostly from your robot pal. This, combined with the narrative power of the environment itself makes for a surprisingly immersive mix. You simply have to wonder about the weirdness all about you and after a few hours of looking around, studying the map and exploring, a story of the world starts unfolding in your mind: a story of decay, corruption, and cleansing.
Hob is a great game. It made me notice and enjoy things I'd normally overlook or filter out subconsciously. If you want something well-crafted, relaxing and engaging, give it a go.
Title image source: Steam