It used to be that any time a video game had amazing “graphics,” it would get extra press attention. But as early as the PlayStation 3 era, we quietly just kind of got used to video games looking good, and having the most polygons isn’t always that impressive anymore. Rather, it’s the aesthetically beautiful games that instantly garner attention now, like Ni no Kuni or Cuphead, and Hoa from developer Skrollcat and publisher PM Studios deserves to get a piece of that spotlight. With incredible hand-drawn visuals that evoke the serene, natural art style of Studio Ghibli, Hoa is a puzzle platformer that will find a fine home on Nintendo Switch and PC this year. Better yet, Skrollcat and PM Studios have released a 7-minute Hoa gameplay video narrated by Son Tra Le, art director and co-founder of Skrollcat.
With a hypnotically soothing voice, Son Tra Le helps players digest what is going on in the Hoa gameplay video and praises the team, particularly the composers, for the work they’ve done. You will travel from place to place, occasionally interacting with other friendly creatures to help you progress. There are also of course enemies in the gameplay, like an annoying little robot, but you will apparently not die or suffer pain in Hoa. The aforementioned robot can only give you a good bonk that sends you far away, requiring you to travel back where you were but incurring nothing more violent than that. Being a serene, nonviolent game set in nature, it has plenty in common with Stonefly. I honestly rarely watch a full gameplay video, but I sat through the whole thing for Hoa.
Hoa is currently scheduled to launch on Nintendo Switch and PC in April 2021, but considering that’s next month and we don’t have a more precise date yet, I would not be shocked if the game is hit with a slight delay.