With the life simulation genre being more popular than ever, and hundreds of products to pick from on the Nintendo Switch alone, it can be difficult to determine which ones are worthwhile. All of them draw inspiration from games like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, but can they really compete?
Is Hokko Life just another life simulation that should have been disregarded simply because it has nothing new to offer? Or does it belong on the same wall as the greats? Let’s find out!
After creating your character and travelling by train, you will arrive in the town of Hokko, which appears to be somewhat empty and overgrown, with only a handful of individuals to occupy it. Almost immediately, you will be tasked with making the town more appealing so that more citizens will want to settle there. Design, build, and decorate to your heart’s content to make this a possibility.
It’s hard not to compare Hokko Life to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as it shares so many similarities and clearly takes inspiration from Nintendo’s number 1 life sim. From the gameplay to its animal inhabitants, the similarities are endless, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Animal Crossing is one of Nintendo’s best-selling franchises for a reason, right? Of course, you also need something to distinguish yourself from the others, and Hokko Life does achieve this… to a degree.
Let me start by saying that Hokko Life is an extremely slow starter, and if you’re the type of gamer that wants to experience everything a game has to offer within the first hour, then this is not going to be the game for you. Having said that, investing the time will pay off by allowing you to access additional decorative items, structures, and locations to explore. It does take about five or six hours for it to really get rolling, though.
The gameplay in Hokko Life is as you might expect; it’s a constant gameplay loop of completing tasks for the residents, building and crafting various items, chopping trees, gathering bugs, and fishing. As you advance through the game, more tools will become available, such as using a pickaxe to mine or farming, but you get the concept.
Unfortunately, despite this sounding like a lot to keep you occupied through the in-game hours, there aren’t enough tasks to fill the days. Indeed, through the early stages of the game, the tasks I was assigned were quickly completed within 10 minutes, leaving me to wait until the following day to get going again. After this, I would be aimlessly wandering around town, catching bugs or chopping trees, to pass the time.
Luckily, Hokko Life doesn’t feature a real-time system, so when I had finished everything I needed to do on that day, I could sleep until the following morning and repeat the process. This meant that I felt like I was wasting a lot of my time and made days go extremely quick, but it was the only way I could stop the game from becoming dull.
Players will quickly be able to build additional houses for new citizens to join the community, which I thought was really cool, having the ability to pick when and where people (animals) move. You will even be offered the option of choosing from a modest range of how that home might look, with only minor differences in materials required for each one. The catch is that users will have to spend their own coins to build the residences. I found it quite annoying to provide the supplies for not only the home but also a large sum of money for an additional individual to move in.
One of Hokko Life‘s distinguishing qualities is its ability to customise furnishings to create something completely unique. Players will be able to utilise a variety of forms, sizes, and colours to their hearts’ delight by simply going to the design table, and I loved the freedom this provided. It’s a very detailed system that I haven’t seen in a traditional life simulation game before. Not to mention the freedom to place your items wherever you choose, with no restrictions or ‘grids’ in place.
The game also features the ability to customise and create your own clothing, which is highly similar to the same system in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Although the controls can be a little finicky, it’s definitely something that should be utilised.
In terms of the visuals, Hokko Life is pretty hit-and-miss. Certain landscapes and items can look well-detailed, but they also have a tendency to look choppy and blurred. At times, I saw textures changing in front of my very eyes whilst walking toward them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s vivid, colourful, and by no means horrible to look at, but it’s not overwhelming.
The performance, at times, wasn’t at its finest, either. I noticed that quite often during play, I would experience stutters. This didn’t particularly affect my playthrough, but it did become annoying after a while. My only other gripe was within the game’s loading times, which sometimes could take a little longer than I would’ve liked – especially when you first load up the game.
I really wanted to enjoy my time with Hokko Life, and in some aspects, I did, but I felt something was missing from the game to keep me entertained and, ultimately, keep me playing. It does give players a ton of freedom in how they customise their homes and even the items in them. Still, there’s not enough content to keep players returning, and when there are so many life simulation games that do it better – albeit at a higher price point – it’s tough for me to recommend this one.
Freedom whilst placing items is great
Ability to create decorative items is in-depth and worthwhile
Not enough content to fill the in-game days
Loading times can be too long
Controls can sometimes be a little awkward
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A massive lover of all things nerdy, Chelly has been games writing for over 3 years now and hopes to gain more experience and knowledge doing so. Her favourite games are Monster Hunter, Borderlands and Pokemon.