Welcome to another YvoCaro Plays!
As always, these blurbs are mostly about the video games I’m currently playing. Unedited thoughts spring up in my mind, mostly game-related, sometimes not. Or a random train of thoughts starting with the game and ending somewhere completely different!
If you like these bits of gaming thoughts, you can find the previous ones here
Indie Games Deserve Attention
As you may already know, LadiesGamers focuses on indie games. This doesn’t mean that we write only about indie titles. Now and again we get excited too about long-awaited big titles, like the next Legend of Zelda game, or Disney Dreamlight Valley. But we feel that indie games need all the attention in gaming media they can get.
Just for the record, indie titles are games that have been developed by smaller studios or individuals. Some are clear passion projects funded by developers themselves, some find their funding on platforms like Kickstarter by crowdfunding. In comparison, there are AAA titles as they are called. Games that have been developed by large studios, with hundreds of game designers, concept artists, and developers working on them. The budgets for these games are astronomical, as are the profits. AAA games seldom go for less than $50 and they do tend to have longer gameplay.
Another thing that is noticeable is that indie developers shake up the industry. We all know the success story of Stardew Valley and one-man studio Concerned Ape. It changed the gaming landscape, and since that time we have seen many farming simulations appear. They bring new ideas and it’s us, the gamers, that profit from that.
Harsh Reviews for Hokko Life
The reason I wanted to talk about this today is Hokko Life. A simulation game that is clearly very much inspired by our beloved Animal Crossing. It has been available on Steam in early access for over a year, and just last week came to the Switch (and other consoles) and as a full launch version on Steam. I reviewed the game myself (find the review here) and was taken aback by the low scores Hokko Life received on major gaming sites like Nintendolife.
In a way why these scores are given? Hokko Life is slow in picking up. New elements are added very gradually, and sure: there were some game days that I just let my YvoCaro sleep to reach a new day. If you don’t play it for long enough, I can see why it would all feel very shallow.
There are some graphical issues, like an animal disappearing halfway through a wall. Designing in the game is surprisingly deep, but it’s let down by the controls on the Switch. And about one thing I agree wholeheartedly: the animal neighbours aren’t cute and sweet. For the most part, they look spindly and weird.
But this game is so clearly a passion project and it has such potential if you stick with it and play some more. Developer Robert Tatnell and his tiny development studio Wonderscope are responsible for making Hokko Life. He was clearly very much inspired by Animal Crossing and added bits of Stardew Valley too. You could say that’s copying, but I think it’s the purest form of flattery. Wanting to make another AC by yourself, and adding even more things to it like a deeper way of designing, farming and mining. Just imagine the sheer size and working on that.
Do Indie Games Deserve More Leeway?
Question is, do we hold an indie game to the same standards to judge if it’s a good game? Or do we take into account that there isn’t a big team behind it and that it costs far less? Do we accept a few bugs and shorter gameplay, as is often the case?
Personally, I think we should judge the game by the experience it gives us, but at the same time, I feel indie games deserve a bit of lenience. And price definitely factors in the verdict. Plus, as long as a developer sticks around for the long haul and works on ironing the kinks, I feel they should have our support. It’s far easier if you have resources at your fingertips to deliver a stellar product.
And, let’s be fair. Nowadays even the big titles need some tweaking when they are already in shops. We see a trend for AAA games to be brought to market earlier than maybe they should be. And recently, Gameloft has even decided to bring Dreamlight Valley to us in early access. Polishing it as they go along before the final free-to-download release. And in the past, Octopath Traveler also had two demo versions, way before the final game. Players could even put in their thoughts on what should be improved.
All ‘n all, the differences are disappearing. There are indie games that are amazing, and there are AAA titles that could have used more attention. So maybe the price is the deciding factor and the resources a developer had. With that in mind, we will keep trying to steer you in the right direction with our reviews!