Hokko Life has exited its early access stage and is now available on console so let's see how much fun this slow-paced village sim is.
│ Just like with PlayStation 5, Video Chums utilizes an SSD on our server to deliver lightning-fast page load times. ⚡
Vs. Animal Crossing
Right off the bat when booting up Hokko Life, I was struck by how similar it is to Animal Crossing. You play as a human who befriends animals in a small town that you get to shape as your own. Along the way, you'll meet new animals and choose who gets to move in. However, once I started exploring everything that Hokko Life has to offer, I was pleasantly surprised by how the developer has taken the Animal Crossing formula and added in much of what fans have been wanting in the series. Having said that, Hokko Life borrows extremely heavily from Animal Crossing down to details like collecting and presenting ancient items found in the ground, a similar system of rewards, and a bug and fish encyclopedia. v1d30chumz 44-210-77-106
The biggest difference between Animal Crossing and Hokko Life is how time works. In Hokko Life, time is managed by an in-game clock and is not based on the player's system clock at all. Some may prefer this and for others, it might put them off. If Hokko Life were based off the system clock, it would invite more community involvement as players experience events like the holiday season and bug-collecting challenges at the same time in the real world. However, the fact that Hokko Life doesn't do this means that the player gets to explore the game at their own pace.
Speaking of pace, Hokko Life is a very slow-paced game where you'll spend a long time in each day due to there being no kind of stamina management that forces you to end a day early. The main character also walks fairly slowly and for some reason, you can only sprint for small lengths of time; that is, until you supposedly unlock unlimited sprinting through a mayor merit. 🏅Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review
Merits and requests
I know what you're wondering; what exactly is a mayor merit? Well, it's basically rewarded via a collection of challenges and each challenge cannot be completed until the one before it has been checked off. Collecting mayor merits is a key part of Hokko Life as without them, you'll be stuck with just the core mechanics and you won't unlock things like upgrading your pick axe to go deeper into the mine as well as unlocking bombs to open up a small wooded area with collectible new lumber. Thankfully, the requirements to unlock a new merit are clearly listed and they increase in difficulty and time to complete. Most of them will likely be achieved by simply playing the game for long enough but there are some that you'll have to put extra effort into such as crafting a full 20 unique creations. I found myself constantly coming back to the mayor merits screen to decide where to spend my energy in order to unlock new features.
Besides mayor merits, villagers also give requests such as building a certain type of item or catching a specific fish. Surprisingly, completing some requests results in no reward for some reason but others give cool items like clothing that anyone would happily put on. 👚
Early in Hokko Life, you'll spend time unlocking new areas at your home base when you're not completing quests. The village is split into multiple areas: a train station, shopping district, residential area, beach, pond, woodland, mines, and farmland. Not all areas are available at the start and you'll have to figure out how to unlock them all such as by crafting a bridge to reach the pond across the waterfall. Exploring these distinct areas is a lot of fun because they each have their own unique focus such as the mines being the only place where you can find metals to use in crafting or the woodland containing special redwood. There are also fish and bugs to collect that are unique to their areas and vary depending on the time of day so there's always a reason to go exploring to fill up your catalogue. 🐟
In addition to the village, you can also explore an island for a small fee where you'll find yet more unique collectibles as well as get your hands on a detector that will help unearth valuables. Geodes can be broken down into their gem form and used in crafting or sold and pieces of pottery and other ancient items can be collected and displayed in a tent museum on the island. It's a challenge to find all of these pieces and some can even be combined to create a full item to display. 💎
There's also a train station in the village that, at the moment, can take you to the city where you can enjoy the community aspect of Hokko Life but I wonder if more locations will be added later. Here, you can take part in a community challenge where you're tasked with crafting a certain kind of item which might end up being put on display. You can purchase these for yourself, set up your own store to sell items to others, or trade codes with other players to get their items directly. All crafted furniture and clothing is up for trade and it's a great way to expand your library if you don't want to put in the hard work of making most of your stuff yourself. 😅
Crafting is where Hokko Life shines brightest. After approaching the workbench, you're presented with a 3D plane where you can choose from a huge set of items and place them as you desire. Duplicating, resizing, and rotating are all allowed as well as dressing up pieces with paint and applying patterns to fabrics. To unlock items used in creation, you'll need to amass the right materials with some of them being more challenging to acquire and others requiring multiple layers of crafting with different items to create. Creative types will really enjoy the freedom that crafting gives you in Hokko Life but this deep customization can take a lot of time for those who are less creatively inclined. Perhaps these players will enjoy decorating the town with other creations for a less time-intensive creative pursuit. Bear in mind that you can actually place and decorate inside and outside other villagers' homes in Hokko Life so there are a lot of possibilities. 🏘️
One of the activities in Hokko Life that I enjoy a lot is mining. The mines are deep and dark and you'll quickly find that you need to craft and install lamps to light the way. Placing lamps is one of the ways that progression is unlocked and the other is by upgrading your pick axe which requires some good item gathering and exploring in order to do so. Crafting more lamps and uncovering more of the mine is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, especially when you find a new metal ore. In addition to mining, farming is also available with a big selection of food, flowers, and trees to grow. Once you unlock the farmland area, you'll have a large area to call your own. 👩🌾
The graphics of Hokko Life are cute and colourful and many of the villagers are adorable, especially Benny the rabbit with his checkered texture and silly moustache. For some reason, the small wood area seems to have graphical issues and appears poor quality but that will hopefully be fixed in a patch. The only thing that I wasn't a huge fan of was the character model of the main human character as they always end up looking a little bit off as if they don't quite belong. This is a very minor gripe, though. 😊
Quality of life
One thing that bugged me in Hokko Life was the inability to access my inventory from the workshop while creating. Specifically, you have to make sure that you have everything you need in your backpack or else you'll have to exit, wait for a loading screen, enter your home, wait for another loading screen, grab what you need, exit, wait for yet another loading screen, and then enter the workshop again after, you guessed it, another loading screen. I wish that there was a global inventory system instead although that's something not even Animal Crossing does right. At least you can craft more than one item at a time in Hokko Life! 🛍️
As you can tell, the amount of loading screens can be pretty annoying as they're just long enough to make anyone impatient and when you're trying to complete a bunch of chores that require entering multiple locations and buildings, it can get exceptionally tiresome. 😪
Hokko Life takes the Animal Crossing formula and builds on it with additional gameplay elements and an innovative in-game clock. Its gameplay is addictive and there's a lot of fun to be had, especially if you enjoy crafting. So, if you're looking for a rewarding alternative to the Nintendo classic albeit with more to do on any given day then you should definitely pick it up.
- + Variety of different areas to explore with unique collectibles in each
- + Mining, farming, and decorating are really fun
- + In-depth crafting with community support
- - Borrows a bit too heavily from its Nintendo rival in a lot of regards
- - Frequent loading before common activities
- - Inventory could be handled more smoothly