Hob is not a new game and it is already out on modern platforms like the PS4 and PC. What makes this port special for the Nintendo Switch is that prolific developer Panic Button, who has worked on some pretty good ports for the Nintendo Switch, is behind it. In addition to porting Hob to the Nintendo Switch and trying to keep up as much of visual quality and experience as possible, they have also ended up implementing some nice features. There is no doubt in saying that this is the definitive edition for Hob and not something decided as an afterthought.
Hob plays out like an adventure taking inspiration from early games in the Legend of Zelda series. It mixes exploration with puzzle solving and combat. There are incremental upgrades offered that help you along the journey and you also solve some puzzles, most of which are not that difficult, but the game doesn’t feel like it truly complements its design at any point.
Hob is a good game and there is no denying it, but if I try to recall what I truly enjoyed about it, I end up drawing a blank. It is not that the gameplay was bad, it was fun and worked in the context of the game’s world, but it was not something remarkable either. The exploration is pretty barebones in general and the puzzle solving never makes you think outside of the box. To add to it, there are some awkward controls thrown in the mix that is also tied to the animation system so you miss out getting to your desired platforms when jumping around to grab ledges.
I am not a big fan of the visual style that the developers picked for Hob. It does manage to hold up well with this port to the Nintendo Switch but it honestly doesn’t look that appealing. The mythology of the world, including the dangerous creatures that you might end up encountering in it, are a sight for your imagination. There is a hint of indie hit Journey with the main character’s design in particular. The environments don’t look that appealing so it is easy to feel detached from them.
The game opens up almost ambiguously without explaining too much about what you are doing next. You are just thrown in action without anything to explain your purpose in this alien atmosphere. It just works letting you first roam the planet as you discover a machine in the middle of a world that is in disarray. There are weird-looking creatures here including one that later ends up infecting the arm of the titular hero of Hob with poison. The machine which you are chasing at this point ends up saving the life of the hero by cutting his arm and replacing it with a mechanical one.
This mechanical arm forms the basis of the main gameplay in Hob. You get a weapon in the start that you can use to attack others. Your mechanical arm begins with the ability to just punch walls but gradually you will unlock new abilities like warp and grapple. These, in turn, will unlock new areas that you can explore to make your way further in the planet and uncover its mysteries. That is, of course, if you feel drawn to the mystery of the world in the first place. Sometimes during exploration, you can also collect a form of currency that lets you unlock further upgrades and get new skills.
Panic Button has improved some of the shortcomings of the original game with changes like adding touchscreen support for easy UI navigation and implementing HD rumble, which is a gimmick but goes well with some of the actions that you can do in the game, letting you feel their impact. The small improvements made to the UI now also make it easier to look around the world map. These are all minor improvements from a distance but overall they do lead to a better experience.
Hob: The Definitive Edition sadly keeps a low resolution of 720p and with a frame rate that runs at 30 FPS. The good thing is that in docked mode, it doesn’t look that bad aside from a soft appearance thanks in part to its cel-shaded art style. I didn’t get to test it much in portable gameplay aside from checking the touchscreen functionality but if I had to settle on a better mode to play it, the docked one is the way to go here. Loading times are ideal enough that you won’t feel their impact during gameplay now.