Hoa | PS5 Review
Updated: Nov 19
Hoa, developed by Skrollcat Studio and published by PM Studios, is a stunning and relaxing indie platform game that is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch. For the purpose of my review I was playing on the PlayStation 5 version of the game.
Hoa is a very short game so I'm going to be very cautious about giving story spoilers so in summary, in Hoa you assume the role of a small fairy like creature who has to explore the stunning world set out before it. The world is absolutely beautiful and created in a hand painted style giving everything a really beautiful and vibrant look about it. It really felt like I was wandering through a stunning fairytale forest appreciating the beauty around me.
Immediately within just a few minutes of playing Hoa, I felt very intrigued by this magical landscape and the story that was going on within it. The world was well drawn out and whilst the game only took me around 2 hours to complete, it felt just right and as though everything belonged and I didn't find myself wanting for anything else. With the vibrant colours of the forest and the beautiful soundtrack I was immediately transported into the Studio Ghibli universe as if I was exploring the stunning forests in My Neighbour Totoro. Accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack made up mostly of stunning piano melodies, Hoa really was a relaxing and contemplative experience that I'd recommend to most people.
Hoa feels more like an interactive movie than a game. This is no real criticism either because I feel like if it tried to be anything else it wouldn't be the same game nor would the experience be any better in my opinion. There's no combat or dying and having to restart levels meaning that Hoa is able to move flawlessly between the various areas you discover which allows you to simply become immersed in the stunning world laid out before you and gives you time to contemplate about the greater themes being addressed within the game. The main themes that I believe Hoa is dealing with is healing and restoration because as you progress through the game you are essentially aiming to bring the forest back to life and learn the powers from the guardian type creature who pops up various times throughout your adventure.
Some could be disappointed by the lack of actual gaming required as they adventure through Hoa and may have looked at it hoping for an experience comparable to Ori and the Blind Forest. However, if you look beyond these misconceptions, you'll find yourself a beautiful and lighthearted experience. There is no combat and there's no dying and having to restart areas leaving you to simply appreciate the world and enjoy the peaceful and serene soundtrack. For these reasons, Hoa really felt like a holiday for me. It felt refreshing and relaxed and like I was visiting a beautiful fairytale where all the creatures of the forest are there to help you rather than hinder you.
I'd recommend this game to just about anyone who can truly appreciate the beauty in a game and isn't looking for a gripping action experience. I don't feel like Hoa requires much mechanics wise from the player and this coupled with the lack of combat means this game could be a fun and enjoyable experience for children and adults alike. The controls are fairly simple and all the mechanics seemed to work just fine which allowed Hoa to flow unhindered by gameplay problems and with no real loading screens it added to this feeling of being in a Ghibli movie. When moving onto a new area the game would buffer for a second and then jump back to life uninterrupted.
The amount of work and love put into Hoa is glaringly obvious to me and it makes me really curious to see what other beautiful wonders Skrollcat Studio has to offer the gaming world. Whilst you could compare Hoa to other platformers, it really is incomparable because it is so unique and has so many little nuances that make Hoa it's own game. If you're looking for a game to transport you from the dreary and bleak realities of the real world or you're looking for some semblance of childlike imagination - Hoa is for you.
Lj's Rating: 4.5 cute rhino beetles out of 5.
For more information on Hoa please use the following links...
Many thanks to Team Critical Hit for the Review Key.