Skrollcat Studio’s new puzzle platformer Hoa was recently released for PC, Xbox, PlayStation and the Nintendo Switch through publisher PM Studios. Here’s what we thought of it, based on our time with the PS5 version.
Hoa is one of those “feel good” platformers that you can’t help but enjoy thanks to an absolutely lovely audiovisual style even though its gameplay doesn’t exactly break new ground. Looking beyond its exterior, what helps is that it’s also a relaxing experience, devoid of any frustration, and this helps you take it all in as well.
Your protagonist is a cute little alien character who we felt looked quite a bit like the Tentacle from Day of the Tentacle if he were rendered like a 2D platformer character. You’ll work your way around beaches, trees and caves on your quest, which is to awake some of the creatures of the forest. Along the way you’ll unlock new abilities as well, for which you pick up butterfly collectibles that generally are harder to miss than to grab – it’s hard to get stuck in Hoa.
New abilities include the ability to push things around, which as I’m sure you’ve figured out comes in handy for some of the game’s small puzzles. Other abilities are more platforming-oriented and make it easier to reach higher and further away platforms, which fits with the changing nature of the game’s level designs – they progressively get more challenging, only your tentacle scales accordingly so it never becomes a daunting challenge either.
Although it’s a single player game, Hoa lets you work together with some of the other creatures you encounter by bouncing off their backs – helping you to complete the game, which is relatively short as the campaign wraps up within two to three hours. This isn’t Rayman in terms of the content that’s available to you, now does it offer exciting ways to play once you finish the story – there’s little here for completionists.
What there is, is an absolutely wonderful audiovisual style, which was realized through hand-painted visuals that conjure up fairytale-like characters and backdrops. Backed by some beautiful soothing melodies, this makes for a game that doesn’t keep you on the edge of your seat but rather lets you lean back for a few hours to let you enjoy a fun platformer before diving into something a bit more challenging again.