|PC (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Playstation 4, Playstation 5
|September 27, 2022
Hokko Life is a game created by Wonderscope and published by Team 17. The game is an answer to the famous Nintendo franchise Animal Crossing. Hokko Life offers the players a community sim environment like Animal Crossing City Folk. Unlike Animal Crossing, however, the game also uses the best features from farm sims games like Story of Seasons to neutralize the sometimes cumbersome real-time mechanics.
Spiritual Content: Hokko Life does not delve deeply into spiritualism; however there is a character who believes their deceased husband reincarnated as a butterfly. Additionally, there are shrines styled after the Shinto religion’s shrines.
Positive Content: Hokko Life, much like Animal Crossing, tasks the player with helping the local community and creating meaningful relationships with the residents. This aligns well with the biblical principles of offering hospitality. The game also encourages creativity as there are design competitions.
Hokko Life has an ESRB rating of E for everyone and a PEGI rating of 3.
Hokko Life starts out with creating your own avatar that best represents yourself. There are no genders to select, so the creation process involves choosing a preset hairstyle, a skin color, and hair/highlight colors along with a name which can be changed at any time. Next, you are able to begin your journey on a train to the town of Hokko. Hokko is a small town inhabited at first by a couple of animals that will walk the player through the basic tasks needed to progress the game.
Much like Animal Crossing and other life sims, Hokko Life has the player cleaning up dilapidated areas by clearing debris and building objects to add life back into the town, such as flower beds and benches for the residents. Gameplay-wise, this loop encompasses most of the game, which for some could become dull. Much of the game is spent earning money for home customization or clothes to freshen up your style, with events and exploration occasionally mixed in. One of the elements of the game that felt most frustrating was the fact that sometimes it seemed like all you were doing was solving animals’ problems that they could easily solve themselves.
Hokko Life shines brightest when it comes to customization. The player has the freedom to fully create their own furniture and tailor it to their own desires. Unlike other games in the genre, this involves actually being able to build items from scratch rather than making purely minor cosmetic changes. All furniture can be moved in the world too, which offers the player full authority over how their town looks, down to being able to customize the town square and interiors of residents’ businesses and homes. The game developers highly encourage creativity by hosting competitions for the community to enter their furniture and clothing creations.
Visually, Hokko Life is beautifully designed. The weather effects are masterfully done and add a level of realism that makes the player feel immersed. The game establishes a cohesive visual identity that makes it feel like it can stand on its own rather than exist as a clone of other games in the life sim genre. One of the best elements of the visuals is the way light and volumetric particles are used to create depth and make areas feel more intimate with the player. Altogether the game looks spectacular, and I never experienced any poor textures or visual bugs. The game offers a variety of options for graphics when it comes to the PC version, letting players tailor the game so it works best for them and their system.
The audio in Hokko Life is very impressive for being a non-triple-A game. All of the songs in the soundtrack were beautiful and emotional. Perhaps the greatest is the track played in the inn. The ambient sounds in the game are done masterfully as well. It aids the cozy environment the game is trying to exude and actually simulated the sounds of the real outdoors in a convincing manner. Each area has its own theme too, which is rather nice as it adds audio diversity to the game.
Hokko Life is not only an enjoyable experience, but it offers educational benefits as well. There is artifact excavation from various ancient cultures such as Egyptian, Incan, and Aztec. Additionally, the creativity encouraged in the game can lead to inspiration outside of the game to try building their own decorations, furniture, or clothes. The game also encourages wise spending and budgeting, and it teaches players how to serve their community and help others. These are all practical principles that can benefit a person outside of games and set them up for success in real life.
While Hokko Life establishes itself as a solid game, it has its fair share of problems. The most notable issue is its lack of incentives. Unlike games such as Animal Crossing or Story of Seasons, there is no end goal or objective to the game. While some may find this freeing, it often left a feeling that every action was pointless, since nothing ever progressed from doing tasks besides minor rewards or a new furniture piece or clothing. Another downfall the game experienced was the lack of any connection between players. One of the features that many players enjoy about Animal Crossing is the feature of being able to play with their friends and show off all the hard work they put into their game world, though such a connection admittedly comes with privacy and security concerns that Hokko Life avoids due to its lack of said connectivity. The final issue that was experienced was the absence of depth that the residents possessed. Many of the characters felt one-dimensional without any personality outside of serving their purpose in the game.
If you enjoy Animal Crossing but don’t have a Switch, Hokko Life is a great alternative and in many ways offers features unavailable in other life sim games. The few critiques on the game overall do not detract from the enjoyment that can be experienced when playing the game. Hokko Life is also constantly being improved by the developers and new additions are being made, so if you are hoping for a feature to be added or improved you can even reach out to the developers to make your voice heard.
The Bottom Line
Hokko Life is a worthwhile experience for fans of Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons, just do not expect any online connectivity in the near future.