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Hokko Life (Early Access) Review: Play At Your Own Pace Community Sim

Hokko Life at a quick glance looks like your standard community sim game. It has all the expected bells and whistles of a community sim game: small village, cast of characters, crafting, gathering, farming, mining, fishing, and bug collecting. You chat with the characters, in the case of Hokko Life animals, and do quests for the townsfolk. In the end you build up a cozy little community.

In fact all of the previous sounds very familiar. It sounds a bit like a certain game on the Nintendo Switch. While I haven’t actually played Animal Crossing, I don’t own the console platform, I am still very familiar with it from watching a ton of pandemic streams on Twitch. Yes, there are similarities, however, I would describe Hokko Life as the charming indie version with some added bonuses.

How indie you may ask? Really indie as in solo developer Wonderscope Games (Robert Tatnell) and publisher and Team17 who is known for their work in helping indie developers bring their games to market.

Tempus Fugit

In life time flies. Every day I seem to run out of hours. From doing all those fun adulating activities to finding a moment to just live, time flies. For the Hokko Life time is very slow. What immediately separates this game from others like it in the genre is the lack of time flow in real time.

Don’t get me wrong there is still a clock and it does tick forward, it however, just ticks really slow. How slow you may wonder? Well let me just say that I was able to fill up my backpack with fish or bugs multiple times, go sell everything, and still have plenty of time to do it all over again on the same day. Try doing that in Stardew Valley.

Looking back at all my gameplay recordings, I am seeing roughly one day in game is equal to one hour of gameplay. I want to point out that each day so far always ended because I simply told my character to go to bed as I was eager to progress the storyline after doing any gathering chores.

Hokko Life | Wonderscope Games, Team17
Hokko Life | Wonderscope Games, Team17

Crafting is Fun

Have you ever played a game and thought I could design better pillows? Have you ever looked at a furnished house in a game and wondered if the décor was mid-century modern would it look better? Well now you can answer those questions and many more.

The game features an incredibly powerful crafting system. Of course you will need to spend some time unlocking all the various blueprints and styles. Once all the busy work is done though, the crafting and designing begins at the workshop in game.

Pillows, tables, chairs, bridges, and a whole bunch of other things can be designed, crafted, placed and used in the world. In fact one of the very first things you will do in the game is repair an old stool to familiarize yourself with the design station. From there it is a matter of having the blueprints, materials, and a really good imagination. So far my constructions have been limited to simple tables, chairs, and some bridges with one of the bridges being an engineering mystery. The one takeaway for me is that I find it to be a lot of fun to actually design the items that are used in the game world.

Hokko Life | Team17, Wonderscope Games
Hokko Life | Team17, Wonderscope Games

So Much Stuff

The world is full of resources. In fact a lot of resources. In the wooded thicket next to town there are various flowers, grass tuft, wood, stone, clay, worms, bugs, and fish. At the beach there are sea shells, sand, bugs, fish, chalk, and stone. With each additional zone there are even more items such as ore.

One of the early challenges in games like this is always inventory space and identifying what is worth keeping versus what can be sold off right away. Luckily for players most items in the inventory will offer a hint of whether or not it has any crafting value at this time. Some resources are very abundant while others take time to be gathered or replenished. For example flowers grow back in three days where trees take six days after being planted. I recommend keeping all the flowers if you are big into designing.

From what I can tell all fish and butterflies are there for collecting and selling. Some of them also serve as great vendor fodder. The sell back price range is anywhere from 2G to almost 40G each.

After I crafted my fishing pole, I spent that whole in-game day fishing and selling off my catch. This gave me plenty of money to do two things. The first was to buy the backpack upgrade and the second was to buy the bug collecting net. At this point money was easy to get as it was always a flutter away as butterflies tend to respawn fairly fast and it is easy to catch money, I mean butterflies.

One of the really cool effects when catching a fish or netting a butterfly is your character will hold it up like a trophy. On the first catch of a new fish or bug the entry goes into the collection log. From that point the game tells you how big the catch is and will notify you if the catch is a new record. There is one piece of information I see lacking here and that is I would love to have a catch counter for each type of fish and butterfly. I know it doesn’t affect the gameplay at all, but for me it is one of those cool things to see. Later on I can open the collect and be like “whoa, I’ve caught 247 Perch or 1162 Swallowtail Butterflies.”

It’s An Early Access Game

When I first fired up the game and got beyond the character creation screen, I jumped right into the story. One of the first things I noticed was that I could sit on villagers. While funny, it was a reminder that the game is in early access.

However, since first experiencing this bug, a patch was released that fixed this and several other issues. I was impressed to see something as simple as this bug getting attention. It wasn’t a game breaking bug, but still a bug and the fact that Wonderscope took a moment to fix this bug made me feel really good about future updates for the game.

There are some areas of the game that could really use some improvement. One particular area, besides general bugs like NPCs getting stuck inside of placed objects, is the backpack UI. I would love to be able to manually sort items in the backpack. There are buttons I can click to sort by value, type, amount, and time. Overall the backpack UI feels a bit clunky and I am curious if this is a result of the game also being controller friendly.

Hokko Life | Wonderscope Games, Team17
Hokko Life | Wonderscope Games, Team17

The Hokko Life is Calling

As someone who is an avid adrenaline game junkie from FPS to racing and even the PvP in an MMO, I find sim games to be a great way to relax and unwind after an intense gaming session. Sometimes I even use the non-violent ones like Hokko Life to center myself after a stressful day. I like to think of it as cheap therapy.

So who is Hokko Life for? Kids for sure will enjoy the world of Hokko. I suspect so will parents. I would go as far to say anyone who is looking for a carefree relaxing gaming experience to escape the stress of the real world will find comfort in Hokko.

The word Hokko is a “mash-up” of two Japanese terms: hoko, which means being warm and feeling good, and hokkori, which means warm and fluffy or soft. Upon clicking start game, your character on screen warmly beckons you to follow them into the cozy and warm world of Hokko. The cutesy animal residents are very cheery and full of joy. Worries are next to nil and the world is there for you to relax whether it be fishing or crafting new wallpaper designs for the town.

Final Verdict

Hokko Life is a relaxing indie community sim gem that encourages players to unleash their inner creativity.

Since Hokko Life is an early access game, the game is scored on our Full Potential or FP Score scale. Since the game’s release there has been a steady flow of patches and updates that have addressed a wide range of bugs and issues. The developer has worked towards creating community involvement with Weekly Creator Challenges and have already announced the next upcoming update. As long as the game continues on this track I can foresee Hokko Life being an indie hit. FP Score 9.0/10

The game review scoring system used by Nano Gaming News can be found here. Thank you to Team17 and Wonderscope for providing a copy of Hokko Life for the purpose of this game review.