Hoa (pronounced “hwa”) is Vietnamese for “flower” and also the name of a lovely indie game and said game’s titular character, a tiny fairy-like creature the size of a bug. This relaxing game features stunning hand-painted artwork, a beautiful soundtrack, and a peaceful atmosphere where the focus is solely on platforming and minor puzzling. This game only took me about two hours to complete, but it was a delight from start to finish. And I likely would have never given it a chance if it wasn’t recommended to us on Youtube by one of our commenters, Ramona Q.
It’s not as if relaxing games with no combat are a new concept, but where Hoa flourishes is in its presentation. This game is just so beautiful and detailed, and they somehow managed to make even bugs cute! Gameplay largely consists of platforming, which often requires help from the various creatures you meet along the way. And while you certainly need some skill to proceed, this game isn’t difficult or frustrating, either. Though I would recommend using the control pad whenever more precise movement is required because Hoa feels just a bit floaty in her jumps otherwise. The last area, however, has some truly unique gameplay that will really mess with your head. In a good way. It’s a bit more challenging than what the rest of the game has to offer, but it’s a lot of fun.
Lastly, the game’s story is hinted at throughout, but it isn’t really explained until the end. Again, it’s a type of story that’s been used before, but it works well enough. As I mentioned before, presentation is everything as far as this sort of game is concerned. So while the concept isn’t entirely unique, this game does it better than many other games I’ve played. So if you just want to relax and play something with a slower pace, Hoa is a great option. Considering the game’s two-hour length, though, I’d probably wait for it to go on sale rather than spend the full $15. Again, special thanks to Ramona Q for recommending this game to me!
This post was originally published on Virtual Bastion on May 10, 2022.