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.
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.
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.