Hob is a perfect example of a type of game I dislike. Rather it’s a type of game whose fanbases’ cry bothers me. I constantly hear “it’s Zelda.” and as a guy named Kinglink, I have to listen to that.
But no… Hob isn’t Zelda, Hob is far from Zelda and what’s worse is I keep hearing about the amazingness of Hob, yet, I heavily disagree with that assessment. Hob is a game whose style might be amazing, but the game design at its core and the level of polish is so problematic, that I struggle to understand anything positive said about it.
The most important thing though would be to address the common praise of the game, that this is “Zelda”. That would be true if Zelda lacked a story or interesting characters, or really a purpose had simplistic dungeons and more platforming than combat. Also, the enemies are repetitive and there are no interesting bosses as well.
So really, no… Hob is not Zelda, it has a green backdrop, with a character who has a sword, but if that’s what Zelda is, a lot of games would be Zelda. And to call it Zelda, would be to ignore the rest of the game.
So what is Hob really? It’s an artistic game where players are told to explore and repair a broken world, which has fallen into disrepair. The actual world and levels have been ripped away, and it’s Hob’s main character’s job to start to repair. The main character is awoken by a robot who guides him throughout the beginning of the game and makes gestures in the direction of further goals.
But that guidance is one of the big issues I have with Hob. While the character clearly points the main character in the direction of the next goal, this happens once, and after that point, players will likely wander around, usually in other directions as the direct path is usually the wrong direction.
There are not many indicators that the player is on the right path, or even in the right area. It’s only made worse by the fact that the game never reminds players what they should be doing. If someone put Hob down for a week or two, which happened to me, returning to the game can be challenging if not downright impossible as there’s no reminder of where the players should go. There might be an indicator on the map but it’s a vague one at that.
Smaller segments or a reminder when players load the game would have been far more beneficial in this case.
The actual gameplay though is relatively simple. Players will battle through small arenas gathering a handful of skills and use those skills to find new areas. In fact, Hob has far more to do with Metroidvanias than anything, especially unlocking new parts of the map, and backtracking. Hob has a lot of backtracking, in fact, I’d probably say too much.
The combat can be challenging but mostly involves the player fighting the same few enemy types with minor changes requiring the newest ability earned. But the arenas for combat and experience are never really worthy of much praise because they amount to the same thing every time. The locations in the game barely change, and most of the time it’s more frustrating than truly challenging.
The “level” design can be great, and several levels are really fun to walk through the levels progression and see what can happen next. But oftentimes there’s a collectible halfway through a level requiring players to repeat the level if it’s missed, and a few times there are actions that players may not be aware they can or should be doing in the levels.
The major puzzles usually amount to get boxes into the right position and oftentimes what is and isn’t possible isn’t clear. Sometimes players will try to make jumps that are not intended by the developers, and other times players can walk by an interactable object because it’s not clear what they are seeing.
The real problem with Hob is it tries to be entirely too clever. There’s not a spoken word throughout the entire game, and while this works for about 75 percent of the game, in the end, Hob wants to say…. something. I’m personally not exactly sure the meaning of the game, or even anything about the characters, because Hob really doesn’t spend the time telling its story. It tries to be a minimalist with the story but ignores the fact that a lack of voice or text means the story needs more emotion and overaction, not less. Instead, players are left wondering what was the point of Hob.
The real problem is the end of the game asks the player to make a choice and it’s not very clear what that choice is or who the player, the villain, the final boss, or even the robot who waked the main character is, so it’s hard to really consider what Hob is TRYING to say when it lacks a means of conveying any of its message to the user.
And while much of the complaints I have of the game would leave me on the fence about recommending it. The nail in the coffin for hob was the high number of bugs and glitches that I experienced as I played it. I personally didn’t have crashes, though I know others who have. Personally, my character often got stuck in geometry. The camera would glitch out, and enemies would freeze to the point I had to restart the game myself.
The real problem with Hob is it tried to do too much and when I stand back and look at it, there’s nothing that hasn’t been done before or done far better. Telling a story without text can be admirable, but Hob doesn’t reach the player. Combat like Zelda could be amazing, but it lacks interesting and unique enemies to fight against nor interesting arenas to fight in. The focus on the long journey rather than every step of the way gives a better adventure, but the path is convoluted and complicated, to the point players doubt if they’re on the right path often.
I struggle to think of a single thing that Hob does well, and I think the only answer would be the art of the game. That’s a subjective answer, but there’s a reason I stopped talking at length about the art in games. If you want pretty images or beautiful videos, there are other mediums. A movie, picture, or painting will always trump the video game medium on a purely visual basis. But if there’s nothing beyond gorgeous art, then the same experience can be achieved by watching a let’s play, and in that case, no one should recommend a game just based on the art.
So can I recommend Hob? My answer is no. Hob does nothing that I would recommend it for. I think it’s heavily overrated, and praise for the wrong genre (Zelda) ignored for the genre it actually is in (Metroidvanias) and as a game, it’s just not very interesting.
It’s a rather average game that gets entirely too much praise.
I give Hob an arbitrary.
Now, 6/10s can be recommended, but I don’t think Hob is the game that warrants that override.
If you enjoyed this review and want to see more from me, including more in-depth reviews of select games, check out my youtube channel at youtube.com/c/KinglinkReviews