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Hob Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Between the vibrant world, great graphics and epic adventure, Hob is another winner from Runic Games. I love that it doesn't hold your hand, opting instead to let you explore and put the pieces together at your own pace. This is an endlessly fascinating island with a style all its own. Unfortunately, the lingering technical problems drag everything down, but that shouldn't keep you from discovering one of this year's most delightful adventure games. Rating: 78%
Hob
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
There's a tendency among video game developers to want to say too much right at the start. They'll give you a big exposition dump and shove you right into the action. Hob does the exact opposite thing. Instead of spelling everything out with overbearing narration and lengthy conversations, we experience the rich world through little more than observation. It's up to us to fill in the details and draw our own conclusions. This is just one of the many things I love about Hob, the incredible new adventure game from the makers of Torchlight.

Without giving too much away, I think it's safe to say that Hob tells the story of a red-hooded character who is freed from captivity by a large robot creature. Our silent protagonist reenters what at first appears to be a tranquil paradise where the sun is always out and the animals can roam free without fear of being eaten. But looks can be deceiving, because this tropical utopia has been infected with a mysterious plague that is cutting off most of the island. To make matters worse, our little hero gets infected, forcing the protective robot to take immediate action and chop off an arm.


As luck would have it, the robot also knows a thing or two about surgery. When our hero finally wakes up, he notices that he has a brand new, extremely large mechanical arm. Without even missing a beat, we jump back into action and use our new arm to explore the surroundings and rid the island of the plague once and for all.

I know this might sound like a horrible thing to say, but losing that arm is probably the best thing to happen to this curious explorer. His new robot limb allows him to punch through walls, grapple to hard-to-reach platforms, drag blocks around the area, unearth hidden areas and unlock all kinds of doors and gates. None of these things he would have been able to do on his own, so it's oddly fortuitous that he had his arm chopped off and replaced. I bet he has a lot of mixed feelings about the ordeal.

With a sword in one hand and a new arm built for punching, we set out on a quest full of action and puzzle solving. Actually, this is mostly puzzle solving. Instead of finding dungeons filled with hordes of enemies and boss encounters, we mostly climb around flipping switches and finding the right solutions. There is combat, but it's little more than straight-forward three-hit combos and rolling around to dodge enemy attacks. You can buy upgrades and use technique to beat some of the tougher baddies, but there's nothing remarkable about the combat.

Hob (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

On the other hand, I don't think there's enough that can be said about how much I love the world of Hob. We're seeing the ruins of an ancient mechanical civilization, one that has constructed a world that clicks into place like a giant Transformer. You don't just open new passages, but rather the world will raise and lower around you, giving us a glimpse at the machinery that runs everything. It's a stunning effect that ends up telling us a lot about the history of this world, all while playing with verticality more than most adventure games. I loved every second of exploring Hob.

A lot of what I like about this game is that sense of discovery. We spend a lot of the early game wandering around and trying to make sense of this ruined world. We're constantly fed new information, though it's always visual. There is no narration, no conversations and no hidden journal entries cluing you into the downfall of this island. The backgrounds, enemies, architecture and remains all tell a story, but it's up to you to put the pieces together.

This also applies to the way the journey unfolds. The game gives you clues where to go and how to get there, but they aren't always obvious and it's easy to miss some of the signals. There were a few times when I got hopelessly lost, even with the map there to help me. Thankfully, this isn't a big issue, since most of the game has a linear path for you to follow.

Hob (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, there is a big issue that needs to be addressed. I'm not sure how this plays on the PlayStation 4, but the PC version is plagued with technical problems. The most common issues involved an unstable frame rate and a game that was prone to crash, though I also ran into an issue where Hob completely stopped respawning my character. You'll also have issues getting stuck in the environment, which can sometimes make exploring a little dicey. None of these are deal-breakers for me, but this game definitely needs a patch or two.

The good news is that the visuals make up for some of the imperfections. I loved tooling around the large open world, and the bright and colorful graphics are part of the reason why. It's a diverse environment that is fun to explore, using cel-shaded characters to create a timeless and stylish look. If nothing else, it will be the look and design of this world that will stick with me going forward. I know the phrase "fully-realized" gets thrown around a lot these days, but it certainly applies to Hob.

Between the vibrant world, great graphics and epic adventure, Hob is another winner from Runic Games. I love that it doesn't hold your hand, opting instead to let you explore and put the pieces together at your own pace. This is an endlessly fascinating island with a style all its own. Unfortunately, the lingering technical problems drag everything down, but that shouldn't keep you from discovering one of this year's most delightful adventure games.
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