Genre: Indie, Platformer, Adventure, Puzzle, Action
System: Nintendo Switch (also available for PC, PlayStation, and Xbox)
Developer | Publisher: PM Studios | Team Critical Hit
Age Rating: US E | EU 7+
Price: UK £13.49 | US $14.99 | EU € 14,99
Release Date: August 24th, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to Team Critical Hit
Have you ever been completely blown away by a game the second you turn it on? It’s only happened a few times for me in my life; I remember instantly falling in love with Kings Quest 7 and Breath of the Wild, but I cannot recall any others, until now. Hoa is another of these amazing titles, and I can’t wait to share my experience with you.
The Story and Gameplay
It’s nearly impossible to talk about any aspect of the storyline of Hoa without spoiling too much, so I’ll just give a very basic plotline: you are a small, forest critter who is on a journey. This journey will take you through beautiful forest locations filled with trees and plants, scary dark places, and even under the sea. Players will get to meet a variety of friends, and each will help them along their journey.
As for gameplay, the mechanics are fairly simple. There is much less emphasis put on Hoa‘s platforming than there is on the story and journey. Players can jump at the beginning of the game; later on, floating, smashing, and double jumping are added.
That being said, some of the puzzles are a little challenging. Nothing in the game feels impossible or overly hard; it’s just a simple, sweet title that players are encouraged to explore and experience rather than spend a lot of time puzzling out how to get from one location to another.
The Pros of Hoa
There is so much to be said about how lovely this game is. From the hand-painted backgrounds to the extreme polish of every jump and interaction, you can tell a lot of love went into this. It’s achingly pretty, and the story is engaging. Every inch of this game must have taken so much time to complete.
I actually took so many screenshots from this game that I had a really, really hard time choosing which ones to use in this review. I kind of just wanted to have the review be mostly screenshots, to be completely honest.
The music is fabulous. It lends each location a deeper feeling and mood than it would without. Each level has a unique soundtrack and looks that make each chapter distinct and adds so much to the story. I’m not usually a big soundtrack person, but I would definitely buy Hoa‘s soundtrack without a second’s hesitation.
The Cons of Hoa
Hoa is such a grand experience, it was hard to come up with negatives. I wish it was longer; the game is only about two hours long. But what a two hours it is!
The only real con I can think of is a level late-game that forces players to play upside down and mirrored, with the controls inverted. The jumping puzzles turn into a nightmare when your brain has to work upside down and backwards, but there was a real sense of accomplishment after I finished it.
I love this game. I love it so much that I just finished it and I can’t wait to play it again. There is nothing about this game that I would change, and I am honoured to have been able to not only play this amazing story but also to have reviewed it. This title absolutely earned its two thumbs up.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up: