Hohokum Was Almost The Perfect PS4 Game

Illustration for article titled Hohokum Was Almost The Perfect PS4 Game
Screenshot: Hohokum
The Last GenerationThe Last GenerationA look back at 2013-2020, the age of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

I’ve done a lot of big-picture stories for our Last Generation roundup, but tonight I want to zoom in a bit and talk about one game in particular: Hohokum, aka the most relaxing video game of the PS4 era.

Advertisement

Released in 2014 for the PS4 (but also the PS3 and Vita), at first glance there’s not much to it. You move a big snake thing around a floating landscape, and sometimes you run into things, and sometimes you fly through things. You’re never fighting, talking, nor really doing much of anything.

Yet for Hohokum these aren’t limitations. They’re a canvas.

It’s a game that understands the links between interaction, visuals and soundtrack to a terrifyingly perfect degree. Each is inspired by and reliant on the other two, to the point where once it gets going Hohokum is almost synaesthesic.

It’s just you, the music, Richard Hogg’s beautiful art and some very gentle flight controls, all gently vibing off each other the entire time.

And yeah, I’ve just used a lot of words to dance around the fact this is also a very good game to play when you are high as fuck.

I should say now that a disproportionate part of my love for this game is down to its soundtrack, as I’m a huge fan of Ghostly, the label that lent its artists (like Tycho) to Hohokum. But there are loads of games that feature songs that I like, and none of them can tie the whole experience together like Hohokum could.

Hohokum, which began life in 2008 as a tiny little indie project before being signed by Sony years later, is also just so representative of PlayStation’s excellent approach to smaller software this past generation (and going forwards, too!). Not everything had to be a blockbuster, or a system-seller, or even a tentpole “look it’s a famous indie” game for the PS4! Sometimes it was cool to just sign and support a little game, give it some space and then...help it add a ton of major international artists to its soundtrack to really take it to the next level.

Advertisement

If it succeeded, then great! Or if it just existed, and made certain people happy, then also great! Hohokum may not have defined the PS4, but it was part of a larger games-first ideology, seen everywhere from small titles like this through to an impeccable library of first-party exclusives from Sony, and together all that certainly did.

(Here’s our original review of it from 2014!)

Advertisement

MORE STORIES FROM THE LAST GENERATION:

Advertisement
Advertisement

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

DISCUSSION

mr-pkrj
V till I D.I.E

When I think of the PS3 era (even though I never owned one), games like this are what I think of. Hohokum, The Unfinished Swan, Journey, The Puppeteer, LittleBigPlanet. All of those games might not be the biggest, brightest, or command the most attention like Uncharted or God of War or Resistance. They were charming though. They were unique. They had something that every company should strive for. Not every game has to be pure action and violence and bombast. Small artsy games with good visuals, controls and soundtrack can be enough. I kinda hope XBOX studios can get into a few of their own titles like this. They seem to be the only platform lacking in titles like this. I think gamers on any platform are better for it. (Also like Luke, I like Tycho and that’s the main reason I knew about the game but I’d like to believe I can still appreciate it anyway)