Hob: The Steampunk Zelda

Hob is an adventure game developed by Runic Games and published by Perfect World Entertainment. It originally released on Steam and PS4 in September of 2017, but later ported to the Switch in April 2019. It costs $20.


I wouldn’t exactly call Hob a Zelda clone, but if you have a Zelda itch, Hob can definitely scratch that for you.

In many ways, I find that Hob has more in common with Hyper Light Drifter than with Zelda: small red-caped hero? Check. Atmospheric dungeons teeming with challenges? Check. A vague story told via grunts and symbols? Check.


If you’re familiar with my opinions about Hyper Light Drifter, then all of these comparisons are very good things. But there are some things that Hob does better than Hyper Light Drifter, and others that it does worse. Hob is decidedly more puzzle-oriented. You do a lot of lever pulling, block pushing, and figuring out where to go next. It also has many macro puzzles, where you have to think about how parts of a whole area affect each other. The entire world is one intricate Zelda dungeon.


Hob ditches pixel art in favor of a 3D approach. And I gotta say, for an indie team, I’m impressed with what they did — this world has a beautiful blend of mechanical and natural elements. As you literally piece the world together, you get many vistas, and I had to pause with each one.


Being an indie team, however, there are still several noticeable glitches and bugs. It’s nothing major, but it’s things like the music suddenly cutting out at a specific spot, or accidentally respawning a second time after starting up the save file. Things that show it still needed a bit more polishing. But seeing as designing a game in 3D is infinitely more difficult than in 2D, I can forgive these kinds of things.


The combat in the game, however, feels a bit underbaked. It appears that the devs had a lot of ideas for the combat, with many upgrades and additional items, but they only had time to make a few enemies and fights. So all of that potential goes unused. Most fights amounted to dodge and hit, dodge and hit. Even the final boss felt rather basic and underwhelming. I can tell there was more they probably wanted to put in, but perhaps they ran out of time.

Rough edges and all, this is the closest I’ve ever seen a team tackle a complex 3D Zelda-like experience and get almost everything right. Definitely check it out if you’re curious.

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