Hob Review

Forest_1AHob first grabbed my attention when I saw the developers behind it was Runic Games. I loved their Torchlight series because I’m a big fan of Diablo and really any game involving looting and action rpg mechanics. But, Hob took a page out of another beloved action rpg: The Legend of Zelda. The game has lock-on combat mechanics, collectible upgrades, and plenty of tiny dungeons dotted throughout the world. But these dungeons house immense puzzles and these complex, yet intuitive puzzles is where Hob shines. It is also, sadly, the company’s final game, before shutting down late last year.

You play as a mysterious (but, cute) figure in a world falling apart due to a strange infection. Through a series of puzzles  Usual, but still engaging action rpg combat with deep and highly layered puzzles and a nice dash of semi worthwhile exploration to boot. There are collectibles, upgrades, and abilities available, so you can improve the main character and their tools.

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The puzzles in Hob are outstanding and definitely the highlight among the game’s  other mechanics. The entire game world itself seems like one giant puzzle and most importantly they are very well designed and intuitive. There is that perfect level of challenge where you may find yourself stumped, but consistent puzzle mechanics help move you in the direction of the solution.

It isn’t always perfect in directing you to the next part of the puzzle as I spent a decent amount of time in one dungeon trying to find my way to the next part of a the puzzle. The main problem was similarity in room structure. It looked very much the same as a previous room earlier in the dungeon. So, when the game was trying to point me in the direction of the exit I ignored the exit, got lost, ended up stumped until I returned to the room. I headed through the

Combat mechanics are what you would expect from an action RPG. You can string together combos to do damage, lock-on target enemies to tactically fight them, and dodging and blocking abilities to defend yourself.

The only unique aspect is the use of a glove you receive at the beginning of the game. This can be used in combat as your shield and a knock back tool. The main use of the gauntlet is to help in solving the games numerous puzzles. You can also use it to navigate by knocking out walls and teleporting through blue glowing platforms. Said orbs are also puzzles themselves.

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You’re provided with standard health and mana bars both of which can be permanently improved with items. Health is upgraded with red blocks you find tulip bulb looking plants you pry open. Collecting two blocks will complete a new health bar, a la Zelda just with fewer pick ups to complete bars. Mana bar improvements look like a gear and require about five of them to increase your max bar.

Hob uses vague story-telling and in game mechanics to tell the story. All I can gather thus far about the games story is it seems you are some sort of guardian/custodian of this lush and slightly mechanical world. Your good robot friend summons you from your enclosed chamber. Why you start here is a mystery. Some strange corruption marked with thorny vines and purple goop, is spreading and you are tasked with stopping its spread.

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The visuals in Hob are executed in a beautiful cel-shading art style and Runic games are able to use it to express it in bright colors and dead dull colors effectively. The world is a perfect mix of lush and green nature and grey, metallic machinery. Fluorescent blue light shine in the underground dungeons along with gorgeous rock formations. Even corrupted areas fit in perfectly. Dried out, yellow grass and thick overgrown thorny vines merge together seamlessly with the games brighter and healthier environments making the corrupted areas striking when they make an appearance.

I truly was not expecting to enjoy Hob as much as I did. The puzzles in Hob are not only enjoyable in a game, but also challenging and satisfying to solve. Making the gorgeous, cel-shaded world one big puzzle is creative and effective and watching all the pieces fall into place is very gratifying. While its other action RPG mechanics are nothing outstanding, they are still implemented well. This is an excellent final game for Runic Games and showcases their amazing ability to make great ARPGs,

Pyre Review

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Platforms: PC, PS4

Price: $19.99

My first experience with a SuperGiant game was Bastion. While the game had stunning visuals and great music, the games mechanics were not particularly memorable. They weren’t terrible, it didn’t really do anything new compared to most action RPGs. Transistor on the other hand took its combat mechanic in an interesting direction. Players were able to pause time and set up a series of actions to execute. With their latest game Pyre, SuperGiant has implemented some of their riskiest and unique mechanics, in both gameplay and story, and they executed it impressively. Also, it’s still gorgeous as hell and Darren Korb’s music will stick with you after you’ve finished the game.

Pyre brings the company’s beautiful art style and excellent music talent back with an RPG game whose main gameplay combat is essentially 3 on 3 fantasy basketball. You take the role as a fellow exile whose crime was knowing how to read. Literacy is outlawed in this world and you’ve been cast out into the Downside, a wasteland of sort with a few areas that still have some hints of life to them.

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In typical SuperGiant fashion the games aesthetic is vibrant and colorful. The character animations are incredibly fluid. The detail put into the worlds environments make them all gorgeous and memorable. Plains are lively with bright colors and verdant green fields and a deadly lava ridden area is flows with orange glowing lava and embers. Everything in this game is beautifully rendered and created.

SuperGiant has decided to move towards more of a text based narrative. There is still a narrator, but they only appear when a rite takes place. Players can hover their cursor over certain words of the text to gain additional lore on places and characters. I personally enjoyed this, but fans of Bastion and Transistor with their excellent narrators, may not enjoy how wordy the game can be. And it is a lot. Between rites are only conversations either through the natural progression of the story or side conversations with the characters you have in the wagon.

Also, be prepared for a lot of feels from this game, even before you reach the end.

This is the strongest (and best) aspect of the game. Taking part in the rites is like playing a 3 on 3 fantasy sports game. As the rite begins a magical orb slams into the center of the arena. The player must grab the magical orb in the middle of the arena and transport or throw it into your opponent’s pyre until it is extinguished. The pyre’s strength is represented by a counter inside the pyre.

But it’s the different player types who offer the real depth to the base mechanics. Every type has an aura surrounding them. The size of the aura varies in size depending on the class you’re playing. The giant daemon’s for example is massive, while the cur’s is fairly small.

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Each class can also launch their aura forward to attack enemies. Well, not all of them are launched forward, but the idea is still to obliterate your opponent, temporarily removing a player from the rite. This also occurs when a player jumps into the pyre to score.

You can improve each players stats and abilities as they level as well as improve said abilities with talismans you can pick up as you explore the world or purchased with gold from the Slugmarket. This lovely little market and its strange owner will offer talismans and consumables before rites.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Pyre. The game’s vibrant art makes the world worthy of exploring and enjoying. And in typical Supergiant fashion the music is incredible and sticks with you even after you put the game down (I highly recommend buying the soundtrack. It’s amazing in its own right.) I know some may be bothered by the absence of a constant narrator, but I enjoyed the text based narrative and found it just as engaging. If you’ve been a long-time fan of Supergiant you’ll love Pyre and should experience this beautiful game.