There isn't much gameplay or challenge beneath its beautiful exterior, though. Hohokum's audiovisual splendor is irresistible and you won't regret the time you spend with it, but the end result can't quite gel into a complete and fulfilling experience.
Hohokum forces players to construct their own meaning in its often minimalist visuals. You won't be able to intuit the way the game's flora and fauna will react to your presence through observation alone; it's only through direct interaction that you'll discover their purpose. Unlike many games, Hohokum's gameplay is less structured and more free-flowing, allowing players to travel between its many worlds at their leisure.
Like Proteus and other recent experimental games, Hohokum is less about gameplay and more about providing a memorable and ostensibly meaningful experience for the player. Once you boil down Hohokum's visual noise, though, you'll find that its underlying mechanics are actually very simple. Your reflexes are not tested at any point, and objectives often devolve into finding one interactive element and dragging it to another interactive element. The game's trophy list reveals that it's possible to see and do everything in under an hour, though your first play will take considerably longer.
Hohokum offers more than you'd expect but less than you'd want; without gameplay depth to back up its visuals, it sparks the imagination but doesn't kindle it. Its audiovisual melange is hypnotic up to a point, but its charm is fleeting, leaving you with a hollow gameplay experience at its core. Still, I'm glad I spent time in Hohokum's whimsical world. Its design sense is unquestionably sound, and it's easy to lose yourself in its cheerful facade, if for only a few hours.
This review is based on a pre-release PSN download of the PlayStation Vita version of Hohokum, provided by Sony. Images: Honeyslug. Hohokum is a Cross-Buy game, meaning one purchase grants access to the PS3, PS4 and Vita versions.
Joystiq's review scores are based on a scale of whether the game in question is worth your time -- a five-star being a definitive "yes," and a one-star being a definitive "no." Read here for more information on our ratings guidelines.
Sony PlayStation 4