Hoa - Our first Indie Spotlight Review

Title: Hoa

Platform: PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S Platform reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Developer: Skrollcat Studio

Publisher: PM Studio

Release date: 24th August 2021 Category: Puzzle/Platformer

Age Range/Family Friendly?: Perfectly Family Friendly



The weekend of the 28th August signalled the first time that the entire W3K staff met up in person since the COVID-19 pandemic. Relying solely on cross-play gaming, online parties and social media to keep in touch, it was a remarkably refreshing get-together for us all. So, we decided to pick out an Indie game to review and play, with an intention of making this a more common feature. Now, I think it's pretty important to give a fair representation to the people playing the game. Iain has 1000s of Steam games and plays a lot of indie games, so is fairly critical of what is good and bad. Haydn, being involved in the Gaming Industry and events, tends to hear a lot about them and plays many as well. Dean, is pretty casual and does dip into a lot of Indie games, and anime style formats. I (Scott) tend to avoid Indie games, having experienced some really poor ones in the past. Yet, I long await that hidden gem that will capture my interest.


Overview

Hoa is a unique choice for us to start out on. We purposely wanted to jump in fairly blind with little research, no review of the press pack, just brand-new and fresh as though we had just found it on the PlayStation Marketplace. In a weird way, I'm kind of glad we did. As stated above, I am very particular about the games I play and personally, probably would have just scanned over it. Some peer pressure of being outvoted by the others made Hoa the game to play. Hoa is described by developers, Skrollcat Studios, as a "breezy and meditative experience, a beautiful little thing that warms your heart."



Enter four guys that collectively have the heart and soul of one cantankerous old man at a soup kitchen... and you have a match made in heaven, right? We didn't know this at the time of purchase, but courtesy of the press kit, the game put us in the shoes of Hoa, a lost fairy with no memory of the past. Exploring magical forests and lands, we collected butterflies to wake our hibernating friends, aided by snails, ladybugs and more. Having gone in blind without so much as reading the synopsis on store, Scott, who was also on the tail end of an NFL fantasy draft didn't really pick up on the vibe. Dean was snoozing following his third plate of Chinese takeaway. Haydn and Iain swapped the controller around quite a bit, taking turns until the others took notice. It was a great plan, but the execution between us, mildly poor.


Thoughts We have selected a number of different categories for our Indie game reviews. Each of us will rate the five categories out of five, a collective 25 points each, to a maximum score of 100. The total being the W3K full review percentage. It brings a little bit of order to our chaos.

Scott's thoughts:



Total Score - 18/25

Iain's thoughts:


Total Score - 15/25

Dean's thoughts:

Total Score - 16/25


Haydn's thoughts:



Total score: 17.5/25




To summarise, in a completely unusual and unexpected turn of events, the scores painted a very odd picture. A solid score for Hoa doesn't detract from just how pleasurable the experience was. Although a mixture of thoughts and feelings, between us, it was a shock when we came together to find that the anti-Indie gamer, Scott, had the highest score. A unique mixture of views culminated into a highly respectable score of 66.5/100. Which, by our unique standards and system - merits a purchase and a play.



Pros
  • A stunning game world, welcoming on the eyes.

  • A very well thought out, deep musical score. A lot of effort paid off (except for Iain).

  • A good balance of skills and ease of control made for a swift experience.


Cons
  • Short.

  • May only appeal to a certain demographic, unless, like us - you are prepared to try something new.

  • Moderately high price point for what it is, maybe give it a chance on a sale if it costs too much.

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