Runic Games’ Hob Is A Thoroughly Enchanting Adventure

Originally posted on Gamebreaker.

Runic Games — known for their Action RPG games Torchlight and Torchlight II — are going in a completely different direction and tackling the adventure genre with a game called Hob.

image

During PAX Prime I got the chance to get a hands on with the Hob demo and discussed the game with Runic Games CEO Max Schaefer.

According to Schaefer, the team has been inspired by games like the Zelda series and Journey. It’s easy to see the mark of both of those without ever feeling as if Hob is trying to copy them. For example; the story in Hob is told entirely without dialogue or text. Additionally, when in need of health the player character can cut down grass to find what looks like strawberries to regen health. But the differences are also abundant, even in the short demo I played.

The player is meant to navigate their way through the various levels of Hob in order to discover what is causing the world they reside in to be sick and find a way to fix the issue. There are little sprites throughout the levels who serve as sort of guideposts and help the player know where to go. However, exploring off the obvious path is also very worthwhile and offers the player a glimpse of some of the game’s beautiful vistas.

image

The world map changes and reforms itself as the player solves various puzzles to move forward. Different areas will rise up while others fall away, sometimes platforms will even rotate to form bridges to new areas. The sweeping vistas, aside from being beautiful, also give clues about where you’ll be heading or what is coming up soon. Some puzzles will require the player to make use of multiple abilities in order to solve them.

The demo at PAX Prime took place in one of the levels still fairly close to the beginning of the game. In the full game players will have to find the sword and giant glove on their own, but for the demo I had these items to start with.

At first the glove mostly just helped me climb around, but after I found an upgrade station I was able to use it more like a grappling hook which worked with magnets and electricity instead of a rope and hook. The upgrade also allowed me to pull far away items to me, and allowed for a new dynamic in solving puzzles.

Oasis_Fight5crop

There was one boss fight in the demo and I personally felt like it had some high stakes because the first thing the boss did when he appeared is he picked up a sprite and bit its head off. Hurting cute animals is pretty much a guarantee I’ll have a vested interest in beating a mob.

Dodging seemed like a pretty big part of fight mechanics and I was able to avoid taking any damage while in combat with the boss. The magnetic ability of the glove was also super handy because I was able to strip the boss of his metal boots right in the beginning, which severely weakened him.

Sadly the demo ended soon after this point, I would have quite happily played for many hours longer. Everything felt very polished and looked as if it could be in a live game right now.

The current plan is for Hob to be available on both PC and consoles as making it available to players as widely as possible is definitely a goal. Hob is still pretty early in the development so sadly we won’t be able to play the full game anytime soon but I’ll be eagerly waiting for the next chance to play!