Hoa first hit our indie game radar back in 2019 and we followed it closely. Now it’s out! And the Studio Ghibli styled platformer is a glory to behold.
Hoa looks amazing, has a fantastic soundtrack, and also features a minimalistic, chilled out gameplay romp that had us almost dancing. Let’s take a look.
Hoa (the Studio Ghibli styled indie platformer thing)
Launched on 24th August, this is available on every console and PC thingy (including Steam and Gog). We picked it up for our Nintendo Switch.
On the surface, it’s a simplistic puzzle-platformer from Skrollcat Studio in (we think) Singapore.
Plot?! Yes! The game is about Hoa, who’s a lost fairy with no memory of her past.
She returns to her homeland for the first time in aeons, pushing on into the wilderness to meet friends old and new.
As you take control of her and progress, you gain new Metroidvania style powerups and discover the rather stunning scenery around you.
Most of this is in the form of a sedate and intuitive platformer not designed to be a goddamn nightmare. But there are occasional intense moments.
Aesthetically, the game got a lot of attention in previews due to its obvious Studio Ghibli inspirations.
It looks, and of course sounds, like it’s a game by Studio Ghibli. It reminds us most of all of Spirited Away (2001), which seems apt considering it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary right now.
Along with its stunning looks there’s a really quite outstanding soundtrack (more on that below), which really adds weight to proceedings.
As a gameplay experience, it’s a short title and one that’s not overly challenging.
Yet it also has a pleasing and delightful flow, with an intuitive nature that takes you through the experience and makes sure you get the most of it.
It’s a welcome arrival as opposed to the endless 200+ hour demanding AAA titles rolling out all the time.
Busy people, and anyone who loves good culture, should embrace Hoa as the welcome and beautiful distraction it is.
Hoa’s Epic Soundtrack
Righto, so this recording of the soundtrack shows the true scale of video game music these days. Outstanding stuff, no?
Anyone who’s ever seen a Studio Ghibli film will also recognise the obvious themes from the likes of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.
Johannes Johansson composed the music, but a team of talented musicians was on hand to get the whole thing together.
Aware of just how good the music for Hoa is, Skrollcat Studio already has the full soundtrack available to download digitally (if you want to buy it).
You can also find most of it on YouTube as well, or just play the game and have it flow alongside the game.
This one will be winning awards, we reckons, and rightly so.