Runic Games are best known for their Torchlight games, a fantastic take on the Diablo formula while making it more easier to dig into for newer players. Their latest release, Hob, is vastly different from what they have done before, though inklings of strong design elements and presentation are still found here. Played from an isometric fixed camera perspective, Hob is an action-adventure game with platforming elements, in a unique world that blends technology and wildlife in a fascinating manner.
You play as a silent protagonist, who is given a magical arm of sorts by a giant robot, after losing their own due to an infection. The arm gives the characters special powers, both in combat and traversal, and you set about discovering the secrets of the mysterious world Hob is set in.
You are essentially solving puzzles, defeating monsters, and making your way through the many levels, while obtaining weapon and character upgrades. There are hints of both Zelda and Journey here, but Hob is great game by its own right. Exploration is fun, and while the lack of any context can lead to a lack of direction at times, the environmental design does a good job of prodding you along. As you progress, your actions change the landscape of the world, and excellent camera panning at specific sections do give way to some stunning vistas. You are often shown areas you might be headed to later on in the game, and it’s all presented beautifully.
The puzzles aren’t overly challenging, and it’s usually a case of figuring out the solution, and then spending the time in executing it. However, there are some clever moments spread across, and it’s a fairly satisfying experience. Gladly, there were never any frustrating moments, at least for me. The puzzle and level designs are exceptionally well crafted, and I was always looking forward to what the game would show me next.
Combat is also given as much time as the exploration, and actually works really well. It’s pretty simple for the most part, but fluid animations and interesting enemies keep things form getting repetitive. You hack away at enemies, dodge their attacks, and the controls are easy to learn. Hob is a game designed in way that the players can get to see all of what it has to offer, and not putting too many obstacles in the player’s way. I really appreciated that, and I enjoyed how much fun the game is to play.
Hob is not perfect, and yes, the story could be done better. There’s a lack of direction and purpose which might be a factor for some players’ enjoyment with the game. I was really drawn to the beautiful design, interesting puzzles and great combat, and ended having a really good time with the game. It’s a well made game, and is also filled with a ton of content, with over 10 hours of gameplay time. If you’re looking for a unique action adventure game, Hob just might do it for you.