Hoa (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, PC)

Anytime I review a game with hand-drawn graphics, the press release almost always says it’s “Ghibli inspired,” even if it looks nothing at all like a Studio Ghibli cartoon.  However, Hoa is one game that definitely deserves that claim.  Everything from the visuals, music, and overall themes are absolutely “Ghibli-esque.”  In this very chill and relaxing 2-D puzzle platformer, you play as a forest fairy named Hoa.  Although to me she looks more like a walking hat.  Hoa has the power to bring back life to her land, which has been ravaged by machinery.  The game is available for most current game consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Hoa starts out her journey with only the ability to jump.  When she passes by plants, they may grow and bloom, which can give you some handy platforms to step on.  You can also wake up animals that can give you a boost, like bouncy caterpillars that act like trampolines.  Your goal in each level is to collect five glowing butterflies and bring them back to that area’s elder, who will then teach you a new skill and send you off to the next stage.  Some of these skills include double jumping, pushing blocks, slamming into the ground, flying, and more.

The graphics in the game are a joy to look at, and the piano music is very beautiful and serene.  My only problems with this game are pretty minor, too.  Since the game is fairly non-violent with little to no conflict, it can also be a bit easy.  And the game is pretty short as well.  I also wish you could go back and replay levels during your adventure.  It would’ve made it easier for me to get some of the trophies I missed (I did end up getting Platinum all trophies for this game).  But if you want a chill 2-D puzzle platformer, Hoa is still a good one.

Kid Factor:

Hoa is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence.  There are robots and aggressive beetles that can kick you around, but that’s about as violent as it gets.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger gamers may need some help with the trickier jumps.

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