Developer: Wonderscope, Robert Tatnell
Genre(s): Adventure, Simulation, Role-playing
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 27/09/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Animal Crossing Lite?
So, where to begin with Hokko Life? Let’s start with the similarities to a well known game from Nintendo: Animal Crossing. Both games have resource management, building a community from scratch and crafting various tools to assist in your endeavours. See, everything about Hokko Life screams Animal Crossing, right down to the beginning of the game, where we see our young villager taking a short train ride to a quiet run-down village in the middle of nowhere.
Upon getting off the train we’re introduced to Oma the elephant, an inn keeper who offers us a small room for the night (well, not exactly like ACNH). The next day you’re invited to explore your surroundings, speak to other villagers and build your first home (by collecting 40 logs to start construction) among other activities. See, while the general trappings are similar to Animal Crossing there are a few slight differences separating each game. Hokko Life does a few things that I personally think are great – plus it’s less draining on your time and has some interesting crafting options at your disposal.
Hokko Life takes a slightly different approach to its gameplay which does help it stand apart. Whereas Animal Crossing uses the Switch’s real world clock to track events in real-time, Hokko Life doesn’t and instead its days can be sped up by simply going to bed for a few hours or waking up the following morning. This leaves no wasted time or drawn out moments. Hokko Life respects your time, everything can be done pretty quickly in the first half hour of play – which is useful for me when my real world duties, like work, get in the way.
In Animal Crossing you would need to wait a real world day to build up resources, build a small house and even open up a shop. However in the first half hour of Hokko Life I was able to build my own home have a shop available and craft a few useful tools. The only thing that slowed my progression in Hokko Life is the mayor’s merits which are similar to the punch cards in ACNH. However, here once you’ve completed a merit you unlock something useful for yourself like a map, cash and even items. Although it can take some time to unlock stuff through the merit system.
The Art of Crafting
One of the coolest features that sets Hokko Life apart from Animal Crossing is its crafting system. Here you have three different options (that slowly unlock as you play) each one allows you to create or do something different. The book icon allows you to make pre-made furniture quickly, the backpack icon allows you to make custom furniture or something directly out of your pack and add colour to certain items. Finally, the blueprint icon allows you to build ANYTHING from scratch. It’s a feature I’d love to see in Animal Crossing but here in Hokko Life it adds a layer of creativity that ACNH can only dream of.
The creation tool works pretty well, it’s fairly easy to use after a brief tutorial and some messing around with it. These creations can be placed anywhere in your home or around town and even in other villagers’ houses. Meaning you can create a really unique village with things you make yourself, as long as you have the resources required. You can even purchase more parts for the blueprint tool by talking to Sally in the workshop.
Also, these items can be shared in your online shop in the city. Yes, you heard me correctly, you can display your creations for other people to view and download around the world (if you allow it, you can even share across platforms). It’s a great feature and one that really allows a level of freedom and creativity.
Another really cool feature is that you can enter any home and change it to your liking. While animal villages do have their own stuff you can move/place and you can alter their homes in many ways, I love the ability to have items on an angle which is impossible in ACNH. Here, anything goes – you can even steal items out of villagers’ homes if you wish and add them to your personal collection without any penalties. Placing things can be a tad slow though as the cursor moves around but it’s workable.
Sometimes, after completing a request for an animal he or she will ask you to place it in their home. Again while this can take away a little of their personality, it allows you to stamp your mark in each home, you basically become an interior designer for the entire town.
Living a Life
Apart from crafting, resource gathering and speaking to villagers you’ll also be building up your town from scratch. With the appearance of a realtor called Rosa, you’ll be able to purchase new houses – as long as you have right resources and enough money to build them. You can also go fishing, mining, take trips to town, catch bugs, design clothes – the list goes on… Again, it’s very similar to most simulators available today.
And finally, your backpack has many tabs, allowing you to keep track of quests, crafting options and resources, and also keeping close track on your merits and rewards. But, like most sim games, you can simply do what you want without any hassle or the feeling of being rushed. I’ve enjoyed the game so much I actually went out and bought the game physically. Plus, the developers have just released a massive update unlocking tons of new things, with fixes and improvements to the game overall in a number of ways. So it’s possibly the best time to pick the game up if you’re interested in it.
Of course, like all games, there are going to be some negatives such as quests can sometimes be repeated after you do them, also the villagers are a little stiff and are pretty scary looking, with that uncanny valley look. The biggest issue is that the game has no online play whatsoever or multiplayer to speak of at the moment. Though I will say, most of the issues I had with the game before the update dropped have actually been fixed now.
So I think I will end this review here by simply saying; if you enjoy Animal Crossing and are looking for a game that doesn’t require so much time and effort to play, look no further than Hokko Life. Yes, it’s very similar to ACNH, but its unique crafting system is its greatest addition. The ability to share and download other people creations allows you to really create something unique.
Take a seat, take your time and enjoy the ride. It’s not an AC killer but it’s a great little indie sim that I’ve really enjoyed playing. I’ve still got more to unlock and see, it’s just going to take time and experience. Though I’d personally recommend the game now, specially after the update has fixed a number of its issues and brought a new lease of life to the title.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can buy Hokko Life in the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.