Hoa – an adorable adventure made in Việt Nam
Sometimes, we don’t need a triple-A blockbuster. Neither 100 hours of open-world, nor impressive cutscenes, recurring challenges, and high-scoring. Sometimes all we need is a break from hectic life. A relaxing oasis of harmony to recharge our batteries and caress our souls. Sometimes, all we need is a game like Hoa.
“Hoa” is Vietnamese and means “flower” and “bloom”, and this particular flower tells the story of a tiny grown-up elf who returns home after a long time and wants to find out why they left it as a child. And that’s the entire background story of the game. That’s all it takes to make an excellent, immersive adventure game. Admittedly, the game does not impress with its storytelling. Nor by its duration – I played it in under 3 hours and still took my time. Instead, it charms with its loving game design and style. It’s a pleasure to run and hop through the hand-drawn yet 3D-built worlds. It makes the heartache when, accompanied by orchestra music from Johannes Johansson, colorful flower buds open in bright sunshine, and we can jump around on them while being watched by fluttering bees. Together, visuals and music create a charming symphony of senses:
Hoa makes us forget about worries and problems as we swing around jingling bellflowers in lush green forests and dodge naughty but jolly bounce-robots. It makes us shudder dream when we have to hold on to luminescent jellyfish and plants in the gaping darkness of the deep sea to make our way through this inhospitable but calmy environment. And it makes us rejoice like little children when we can solve one of the neither complex nor challenging but still satisfying puzzles to move on to a new section of the game. Hoa’s art style evolves from sun-drenched meadows to shady forests and the dark sea to the gloomy and steampunky and even surrealistic ending and yet remains to its unique, peaceful character.
Hoa is a game from the Vietnamese game developer Skrollcat Studio in partnership with Kyx Studio, and its origin is reflecting in all facets of the game. It depicts a part of the Vietnamese soul, which longs for harmony and peace. Which, shaken by the past, strives for a happy and self-confident future. Hoa is like its eponymous flower: delicate and pure, of perfect beauty and fragile. Việt Nam itself is still a pretty young market for game development. Although countless small developers are creating mobile games for the local market, only a few made their way onto the international stage facing the highly competitive PC and console market. Hoa is thus a digital representation of the Vietnamese mentality and its people’s ambition to move the country forward and gain international visibility, recognition, and importance.
Hoa is a small, sparkling gem. A short break from the daily grind. And yet so much more: it is the digitalized longing of an entire nation. And thus worthy of our attention and support.
I hope that we will hear from Skrollcat Studio more often in the future and that after Hoa, more wonderful games made in Việt Nam will follow. The flower’s bloom has just opened, eager to expand and create a sea of flowers.
Hoa at a glance
- Personal rating:
- Skrollcat Studio
- PM Studios, inc., CE-Asia
- Release date (Steam):
- 24 Aug, 2021
- Where to buy: