Hokko Life is a slow-paced, laid-back game that shares many similarities with Stardew Valley and the Animal Crossing series, but has plenty of original content to offer as well. While there are many familiar elements that cozy gamers will recognize, Hokko Life puts emphasis on the creative and design aspects of the game that encourages players to express their artistic personalities.
Not much of a story here. You begin the game falling asleep on a train and wake up at the station located at the entrance to Town. You have no tutorial or any direction from the game and arrive in the middle of the night during a rainstorm. When you enter the only building with lights on, you meet the only two members living in Town, Oma and Moss. Oma runs the Inn, and Moss is in charge of the store next door. They ask you why you’re in Town, and you aren’t really sure.
Since you hadn’t planned on showing up, Oma offers you a room to sleep in. The next morning, she tells you that Moss has cleared the way to the Village and you can head off to talk to the rest of the Townsfolk to see if they need any help with anything. Oma tells you that the room in her Inn is yours to use for as long as you need, no charge, which is good since you have no funds. You have nothing but the clothes you’re wearing and the backpack you’re carrying.
When you head into the Village, you’re immediately stopped by a character that gives you the first request of the game. This first request allows the player to explore the area and get a feel for the gameplay. Continuing to complete tasks and progress through the game will unlock new abilities, areas, and characters.
Hokko Life has many familiar elements from some of our favorite cozy games. You can partake in activities such as clearing an area of trees and rocks to then use those resources to build houses for colorful animals with quirky personalities. It’s a game that begins slowly; the clock doesn’t even begin to track time on your first day. You also start off with none of the amenities you may be used to in a game like this, such as the ability to run or the possession of a map. Those things come much later in this slow-paced game.
Much of the early stages of the game are full of villager requests and each in-game day brings another set of tasks. Talking to each villager, including those who run the shops in town, will help to unlock various in-game achievements. In addition to talking to the villagers, it’s crucial to speak to all the visitors who come to town. This will help you to learn about farming, fishing, critter catching, and more. You will be able to chop wood, dig holes, farm for crops, and pick flowers while completing tasks and creating designs. The repetition of daily tasks can be relaxing for some players, and eventually this monotony can be broken up by assigning the task of gathering resources to various villagers.
Each season dictates which crop can grow, and if you forget to water plants, they will wither and die. The ability to craft fertilizers and rapid grow will help to make these tasks less time consuming, when you have unlocked access to those tools. Watering the crops can be time consuming and tedious, but if you keep earning Mayor Merits, tending to your crops will eventually become easier. The ability to catch fish and bugs provides resource materials as well as a source of income, and here again, earning Mayor Merits will eventually make these tasks easier too. The mechanics of fishing involve using colored progress bars, so players do not have to solely rely on sound when catching fish in this game. You may even fish up something extra with each catch you make!
There are plenty of tasks to keep players busy in each in-game day, and there is no need to worry about using up stamina when completing them. The game displays a 24-hour clock in digital form as well as a 12-hour analog clock so players can keep track of the in-game time. Players don’t have to worry about heading off to sleep and can continue mining, fishing, and farming all throughout the day and night without collapsing from exhaustion. It’s essential to keep track of the in-game day, as certain events only occur on given days. The game is split into four seasons, with each season having 30 in-game days. Not only does the graphics and weather change with the seasons, but so do the crops you’re able to grow and the critters you’re able to catch. If you’re trying to complete certain Mayor Merit goals, make sure to do so before the seasons change.
Mayor Merits are earned by completing daily tasks. Many of the Mayor Merits build upon each other. The rewards that you earn are based on the category you have earned the Mayor Merits in. It is very important to focus on earning Mayor Merits, as there are a lot of them and you will really appreciate the rewards! While there is plenty to do each day, you do not need to worry about running past a certain time in the game then passing out from exhaustion or fainting due to a lack of stamina after completing various activities. This means that you can fish past dawn and mine for hours on end without getting tired or needing to stop for a rest.
Many of the villagers’ requests are a variation of having to gather or collect items for them or they will ask you to design a new item for them, so there is a lot of repetition to earning Mayor Merits. When the game first introduced the Mayor Merits, I did not pay much attention as I was focused on other tasks. When I completed my first one, it was unplanned, however, the reward was something I had needed so badly that I immediately began to pay closer attention to earning Mayor Merits and unlocking the rewards. Soon I began to realize that it would have been much more useful to my playthrough to have paid attention to them when they were first introduced.
A large focus of this game is designing and decorating. You’re able to decorate the interior and exterior of, not only your home, but also the homes of the villagers. You’re able to purchase indoor and outdoor decorations, and the characters will interact with any of the items that your character is able to interact with. You’re also able to create items to decorate with as well.
The game places a huge emphasis on designing your own items. There are a multitude of builder packs and brush sets that can be purchased to go along with the rainbow of colors of paint and fabric dyes that can be crafted. The controls needed to maneuver and manipulate the items as you’re designing are quite in-depth and took this gamer a good deal of practice to be able to use them effectively. There is a lot to remember as you’re creating your own designs, and creating your own designs not only provides you with practice with the mechanics but will also allow you to earn Mayor Merits for the designs you complete. Creating designs allows players to find new ways to express themselves, but it can take a lot of time and the in-game clock continues to run so it’s essential to keep track of what tasks need to be accomplished before you miss the deadline given to you by the villager.
Hokko Life is a game of soft colors and soft music. There is no real soundtrack to speak of. The music is instrumental and relaxing, and does seem to change when the character moves from different areas. The colors of the foliage change as the seasons cycle through the year, and the sound effects match the weather events that occur.
You’re able to move around the areas with ease and can interact with many of the items already placed around the village and town, including moving the location of those items if you don’t like them where they are.
While Hokko Life is reminiscent of some other well-loved games, this laid-back cozy game has an appeal all its own. This is a game that starts off slow but may come across as a bit too laid back at first. There is a repetitiveness to the first few in-game days of play as you’re working on completing tasks, and players do have to earn access to many of the amenities we’re used to having from the very start of games in this style.
That being said, this game has elements that are unique to Hokko Life. Players can create unique designs and use those items as decorative pieces throughout the houses and areas in the game, including drawing designs on clothing for characters to wear. Accomplishing goals and earning Mayor Merits allows players to unlock tools and fun items. Interesting NPCs visit and teach you how to use all kinds of new tools to help them fulfill requests. If you’re looking for a laid-back game that will give you plenty of similar tasks to complete each day, then Hokko Life may be one you should check out.
Hokko Life gets a 6/10.