While most of the excitement of PAX Prime happens in the expo hall on the 4th floor, it always pays to check out the fantastic array of games that find themselves up on the quieter 6th floor area. One of my standout games of the show was situated up there: Hob. It’s a beautiful, vibrant exploration into the power of a silent protagonist. Runic Games (known for the Torchlight games) has created an adventure game that reveals a world on the precipice of corruption. What part will the player have in the shaping of this world? I don’t know, it was a 15 minute demo at PAX – cut me some slack.
I got a chance to sit down with Max Schaefer (CEO, Runic Games) and Marsh Lefler (President, Runic Games) to run through the PAX Prime demo of Hob. The demo takes place a bit after the tutorial where players can start getting into the meat of the game. I was introduced to combat after only a brief bit of exploring. The world is populated with both aggressive and docile creatures, but it’s not hard to distinguish between the two. My very first impression of the game is that it feels extremely tight and intuitive. Attacking, dodging, and blocking will feel familiar to anyone that has played an adventure game in the last few years. I’m still rubbish at blocking, but I don’t feel like that’s the fault of the game. It’s really the fault of my instinct to charge heedlessly forward and stab all the bad things.
The art of Hob is absolutely fantastic. The colors seem to resemble the more lush areas of Torchlight II at first glance. For me, what really makes it all pop is the use of black outline. I think it detracts a bit from the realism while adding a lot of character. It really emphasizes the contrast between immediately important objects and background. (Even when the important object is grass to be cut down in search of health.) As for the world itself, the feel is at once mechanical and organic. Exploring the world changes the very topography in interesting (and generally helpful) ways. Perspective is used to great effect such that the ruins a player might find themselves climbing around on can be seen at distance for what the really are: a massive construct that fell dormant ages ago. The art, the scenery, the living world are all a part of the story that Hob tells.
There weren’t a lot of puzzles in the demo, but the main block puzzle was rewarding when I figured out what I was doing. The small boss fight utilized a gauntlet power (the hero dude gets power ups for his monster arm) and I’m guessing we’ll see more of that in the final version of the game. Again, I love the way that completing puzzles literally reshapes the world. Everything I accomplished in the demo felt powerful.
Hob impressed me to no end and I can’t wait to get my hands on the full version when it releases. I want more of the art, more of the puzzles, and more of the combat. (I just want more.) Sadly, a demo for PAX can only show so much of the game. However, I highly suggest checking out the trailer below to get a sense of the world being reshaped and then head over to their site to check out the incredible concept art and screenshots for the game.