Hob, as far as I know Runic’s first outing beyond their superb Torchlight, is far from a bad game. However.
You see, Hob is the kind of game that grabs almost anyone by the heart, immediately. It looks fantastic, it sounds awesome and, with input lag being exactly where it belongs – out of the game, plays beautifully. As long as one keeps playing.
In need for some cyberpunk arse-kicking, I took a three-day break from Hob. Only to come back to a virtually infinite loop of asking myself, what the hell am I doing? Where the hell am I going? Why the hell am I going there?
It’s not much of a spoiler to say that Hob‘s world is essentially one huge mechanism. As you progress through the wordless story, it changes. It’s open, too. Hope you’re starting to see my problem here.
There is a map. It shows cute, funnily-shaped icons, none of which I have the faintest clue what they mean. There’s a progression screen. It sure has pretty designs and pictures, but as far as information go, well, it sure is pretty. There isn’t a single written or spoken word, anywhere in Hob.
And whilst this may or may not be a total game-breaker for me, I can’t help but wonder – where is the failure here? Is it me? Sure, I’ve a day job, another big hobby, and what I’ve been very actively doing in-between those two for the last three days was trying to give myself an epilepsy attack opening skulls with a lead pipe in Ruiner. Quite possibly a distraction too many.
But what if it’s not me, by the way, a seasoned video game aficionado. What if Hob’s world, its very core design simply fails to this kind of extent? Environments that are too… same-y. Explanations that aren’t much of… explanations. Well, while I kind of appreciate to learn something new about the dark intricacies of game design, it makes me feel sad.
I’m sad that Hob requires a second chance from me, because it’s not a game that should’ve ever needed it. It’s not about expectation or hype. Quite the contrary, it’s about a bit of a shocker if I’m honest.