Here I am again with an Animal Crossing-like game! After absolutely falling in love with Cozy Grove, and having a good time with Castaway Paradise, I am taking a closer look at Hokko Life today. As opposed to the previous two, Hokko Life is not yet fully released. This cozy sim game by indie developer Wonderscope (Robert Tatnell) is coming to Early Access on Steam on June 2nd. I had the chance to take an early look at Hokko Life, so let me share my thoughts with you!
Step off the train into the town of Hokko and get settled into your new home! This quiet village needs your help to turn it into the charming rural town everyone loves. With a hammer and paints in hand, it’s up to you to design, build and decorate homes for all of your new friends!
A positive experience
Let me tell you right away that I enjoyed the time I spent playing Hokko Life, and I will definitely continue playing this every now and then. I found it a bit weird that my character fell asleep on the train, missed her stop, and decided to just live in the town she ended up in, but hey, you gotta have a story for your game, right! The first few minutes in Hokko Life already had me smiling, since you can choose a skin tone, but not just that! You can actually change sliders to get to the skin tone you want. Besides this, the customization is kept to a minimum, but it suffices, in my opinion. After creating your little character, it’s time to start your adventure.
Hokko is a very quiet town where most villagers have left. You can probably already tell where this story is going, right? Yeah, it’s up to you to bring back Hokko’s former glory and build housing for new citizens. The gameplay starts rather slowly, but before you know it, you’ll be crafting all kinds of things, going from planks to wallpaper. All the materials can be found in the forest or mines, or just in town: wood, stone, flowers, whatever you need! Designing, crafting and decorating the whole time, and everything in it, will be a big part of Hokko Life. You will truly be able to create the town of your dreams!
You’ll also need money to buy cute decorations, like a camera, or a mirror in the local shop owned by Moss. One way to earn money is by catching and selling bugs. Well, the game says bugs but so far I’ve only encountered butterflies. There is some sort of encyclopedia where you can keep track of which animals (fish and insects) you’ve caught, and which ones you haven’t, but this is still very basic and not too many species are added yet. Anyway, back to the butterfly catching. The activity itself is very easy and most butterflies aren’t worth very much, but it’s a nice way of passing time and earning some money. If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, you can always go fishing. This requires a bit more skill, but it’s still not that difficult.
A random something that I truly adored, was the way your character runs. You can simply run, or you can hold shift and run a little bit faster. When using the shift option, your avatar will hold back their arms like they’re trying to fly. It reminded me of being a child, running around carelessly, a very small yet charming feature!
Besides the gameplay, Hokko Life also has interesting graphics and music. I loved the NPCs in Hokko Life, wow! The cute pink, headband-wearing, elephant Oma that owns the Inn, hipster cat Owyn, shop-owning giraffe Moss, I fell in love with all of them. I also quite enjoyed the soundtrack, which was exactly as it should be: warm and soothing, complementing the adorable gameplay.
There are still some things that are a little unclear to me in Hokko Life. You can sleep, but I don’t really know what the purpose of sleeping really is. There are no health, mana, or whatever points so sleeping because you are tired is not necessary. It’s not like you get exhausted at one point as is the case in for example Stardew Valley. The only reason why I slept every now and then, was to pass time, but I preferred doing something useful to pass the time, like fishing or catching butterflies. Another small remark, but I found it a bit weird that I could go over to the workshop and talk to Sally at 1 am and just receive a quest from her, involving having to get her 15 logs. Of course, I also encountered a few bugs (like being able to walk through a wall a little), as is the case with most Early Access games, but nothing that ruined the gameplay!
At one point, you’ll start getting coins when finishing quests. However, this happens rather suddenly and at random, I feel. Quests don’t have any information on them about how many coins you’ll earn by completing them. In fact, quests don’t have any information at all, except for the short text saying, for example, ‘town improvements: deliver 4 red petals to Moss’.
What is still missing, is a settings menu that you can access in-game. The escape button opens a menu that gives you two options; either you give feedback, or you save and quit. There no settings menu or anything to be found here. Even though the controls aren’t very difficult, there are still key bindings I found out by accident rather than the game telling me what that key does. You can’t access any information on the controls, or change audio or graphic settings. If you ‘save and quit’ you just close the game. The only way to access the settings is when you launch the game. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way not to touch the settings. You see, when I clicked ‘settings’, everything became enlarged and blurry. Due to this pixelated big ass screen, you can’t really do anything anymore, and shutting down and restarting the game didn’t even fix it. I had to restart my computer in order to get the game running like normal again? I tried this three and decided to never again click the settings, at least for now. Unfortunately, this leaves me with no idea what’s in the settings menu and if controls are explained there or not.
What’s the verdict?
Hokko Life launches in Early Access next week, on June 2nd. I really cannot wait to see this game being developed further. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of these types of games, and I’m sure Hokko Life has the potential to become one of the better ones in its genre, say an Animal Crossing-like game for PC, maybe? I can only hope so! Make sure you keep an eye on Hokko Life!
Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂