Hokko Life is the debut game of Swedish based indie developer Wonderscope in partnership with publisher Team17. It is a community sim game very much in the vein of the Animal Crossing series and Stardew Valley. I don’t recommend falling asleep on public transport but in this case, it led to ending up in the small but welcoming town. Over time the town has dwindled but perhaps helping the community means turning this around.
Being quickly welcomed by the anthropomorphic animal residents, repaying the hospitality leads to it feeling like home. The plot feels similar to Stardew Valley with the emphasis on change from urban life. And the gameplay & design very much feels like Animal Crossing: New Horizons (AC: NH). If you enjoyed those, especially the latter, then you won’t be disappointed with Hokko Life.
The game is currently in early access and you can find it on PC & Mac via the Steam store right now.
I didn’t choose the Hokko Life, the Hokko Life chose me
I’m a sucker for community sim games so Hokko Life immediately had my attention. Let us know how you are finding it so far or what interests you about it in the comments below.
Like any self-respecting sim video game, the first thing you do in Hokko Life is creating your character. I picked mine at random but there are many options to choose from. It has a lot in common with AC: NH. It is hard to not compare the two, starting a procedurally generated town with the anthropomorphic residents and their quirky personalities. Visually, it is very clear AC: NH is a major source of inspiration. And how your presence kicks off building the community.
Gathering resources and activities like fishing and catching butterflies are quite similar too. Fishing did have different reeling in mechanics which without a guide did take some figuring out. However, some parts mean Hokko Life stands on its own. The introduction of farming is brilliant as digging plots of land to grow plants and crops felt more earned, at least when using a shovel. I only got to see a little of the variety myself but I know there are different flowers, fruit and vegetables to find and tools to farm with.
I found that the biggest difference was Hokko Life’s crafting system but this was also my least favourite part. With item blueprints e.g. furniture you bring materials together using a grid and with certain size dimensions create. Getting this to work, particularly without a guide, was very frustrating and left me not wanting to continue which brings game progress to a halt. I was also irked by the camera angles which didn’t extend to one corner of the area and with no way to change that. Some departures from AC: NH were welcome though. I was grateful to learn that a significant difference is that here the game doesn’t play out in real-time. The day-night cycle passes relatively quickly and sleeping can fast forward time. The theme of moving from the city and starting over felt more like Stardew Valley.
Graphics & Audio
For my review of Hokko Life, I played it at 1080 60fps and ultra graphics with the ambient occlusion & bloom on but plays just as well on lower settings. I happily found there were no frame rate issues or glitches. The stylised graphics work well with the colourful & vibrant environments e.g. forest clearing and beach area not needing much detail so not taxing on the game. I did notice inside at least one building that the edges of view were out of focus slightly but not enough to affect the experience.
The game audio was mostly the melodic and mellow score in the background which matched the tone of Hokko Life. In addition to the score, there were some situational sounds such as the jingling of coins when buying or selling and crickets at night adding to the atmosphere. I appreciated the audio as it made for an overall relaxing experience.
Much like other community sim games, Hokko Life is ongoing and can play for as long as you want. Also like other games in the genre, the small community you build becomes engaging and seeing it succeed can keep you returning. As well as that, being able to expand and upgrade everything from building layout to clothing design may just keep you invested. I have enjoyed my time with Hokko Life so far and look forward to seeing what else it has to offer.
I did enjoy Hokko Life as the design overall makes it very likeable to play. However, it is tough to look past the similarities to Animal Crossing: New Horizons & Stardew Valley. Features that are different e.g. crafting don’t work as well or are downright frustrating. The NPCs do make it a somewhat engaging experience in this community sim. The design and audio are a big strength of the game, making spending time feel less like a chore. With still tonnes to do, I expect I will go back to Hokko Life at some point down the line.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.