Featured Review ✎

Hob Review – “Changing the World”


Developer: Runic Games
Publisher: Runic Games
Reviewed on: PC
Code Received.

Hob is a beautiful, expansive journey through a world literally torn apart by war. The remnants of a long lost world are scattered across lush green forests, and dusty brown deserts. Ancient temples and copper pipes protrude from the natural canopy that has covered up the secrets of the past. Discovering these secrets is what drives you forward in Hob, and it makes the game an ever evolving mystery right up until its final moments.

With no exposition, Hob’s main menu fades into the first moments of gameplay. You are freed from a tomb by a hulking mechanical automaton. You’re not told to follow it, but you know it is what you’re supposed to do. These moments teach you that this robot is your guide, and friend. Your new friend’s will becomes clear over time: It wants you to restore the world to its former glory and destroy the blight poisoning the land.

Hob has a stunning art style, but the ever changing level design is what really steals the show.

Throughout your journey you will literally rebuild the world by repairing the ancient machines that rest just below the surface. These serve as the game’s dungeons, and upon completing them you are rewarded by watching the world literally rise up from the abyss. Every time I saw the intricate puzzle pieces shift and move into place I was amazed. Hob has a stunning art style, but the ever changing level design is what really steals the show.

You’ll also come across upgrades in these dungeons. Chief among them are Armaments that enhance the giant robotic hand your character has. These Armaments upgrade your traversal abilities allowing you to access previously inaccessible locations. In addition to Armaments you will also find health and energy upgrades, as well as schematics that allow you upgrade your combat abilities.

The combat is a bit of a mixed bag. You have a sword and the previously mentioned hand to attack with. You also have a simple dodge that provides a few frames of invincibility, and you can unlock the ability to block with a shield. When the encounters work as intended, the combat can be fun and challenging, but it does get repetitive over time. The real issue that I ran into where enemies that would get stuck on the game’s geometry or lose aggro for no reason. These glitches totally broke the flow of the combat encounters when they arose. They sometimes led to untimely deaths that felt out of my control. Thankfully, the game uses an in-world resurrection system similar to the Vita Chambers in BioShock, so you rarely lose progress when dying.

There’s a big world hiding just below the surface.

Hob features a fixed isometric camera that locks your field of view. The camera only moves when the game wants you to pay attention to something. It will drop down to a more conventional 3rd person view at key parts of the story to provide you with a grand view of the adventures ahead. Other times it will shift just enough to give you a peak at an area you cannot access yet, showing you a secret you may want to investigate later. Generally, the camera serves the game’s style well, but can sometimes be a nuisance during later platforming segments. The camera can sometimes make it difficult to judge depth and this can cause jumps to miss their mark. In addition, I ran into a few instances where I clipped through the ground when performing a jump. These moments were rare, but frustrating.

Many of the puzzles are seamlessly integrated into the natural flow of the game, and you may not even realize you’re solving one until you complete it.

You must solve puzzles to reactivate the mechanisms that bring life back to the world. The tools you use to solve the puzzles are fairly traditional; you have to move blocks around or reach certain destinations in a short amount of time. While the tools are ordinary, the solutions are not. Just like the story, you have to pick up on context clues to understand what the game is asking of you. Many of the puzzles are seamlessly integrated into the natural flow of the game, and you may not even realize you’re solving one until you complete it.

A preview of a future puzzle.

The inevitable conclusion here is that Hob is a masterwork of exploration and puzzle solving. All of the game’s aspects come together to form a cohesive whole that is both entertaining and awe inspiring from start to finish. There may be a few hiccups along the way, but they’re easily overlooked when compared to the nearly flawless execution of the rest of the game. Hob is an adventure that will keep you enthralled right up until the very end, and even then you may not be ready for what it has in store.

Superb

The inevitable conclusion here is that Hob is a masterwork of exploration and puzzle solving. All of the game's aspects come together to form a cohesive whole that is both entertaining and awe inspiring from start to finish. There may be a few hiccups along the way, but they're easily overlooked when compared to the nearly flawless execution of the rest of the game. Hob is an adventure that will keep you enthralled right up until the very end, and even then you may not be ready for what it has in store.

9
Overall:
9

I remember playing Super Mario Bros. and Metroid on the NES with my older brother, and never being able to land on the aircraft carrier in Top Gun. I faked being sick so I could stay home from school and play Quake II once, but now I request days off from work instead of lying. Age of Empires II is still the best RTS, Half-Life is still the best FPS, and I still think the end of Mass Effect 3 was great!