Hoa Means Flower - Step Into a Visual Wonder
An Innocent Sense of Peace Amongst Nature
Hoa Means Flower
Hoa is a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer game where you traverse a calm and wholesome world as a tiny fairy named Hoa. The game can be completed in about two hours and takes on the look and feel of a Studio Ghibli film. Mechanics are simple, and the game exists as a respite from the anxiety and chaos of everyday life.
Developed by Skrollcat Studio and published by PM Studios, it was released on August 24th, 2021. It's available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (via Steam and GOG).
A Calm Oasis
With its roots in Vietnamese mythology, Hoa is reminiscent of games like Flower or Journey in its peaceful, relaxing nature. Exploring blooming landscapes of flora and fauna, you play as the titular fairy, Hoa, to revitalize the world around you. Along the way, you learn various simple move sets that will allow you to interact with the simple puzzles in new ways, and explore different areas of the world.
Concept Rating: 4/5
Bright and Cheery
The colorful world of Hoa looks as if it were plucked from a scene in a Studio Ghibli movie. With vibrant watercolors, both the characters and environments come to life with a child-like sense of wonder and curiosity. The visuals aren't crowded, mirroring the straightforward gameplay and mechanics Hoa offers.
You'll find an orchestra of forest life and bright piano to raise your spirits throughout the game. The soundtrack exudes a sense of serenity and light, with some musical motifs not too dissimilar from Studio Ghibli films.
Graphics & Audio Rating: 4/5
No Harm, No Foul
Hoa's mostly linear gameplay revolves around exploration and its interspersed puzzles. Expectations should be set low with Hoa since the game isn't likely to offer much of a challenge. That, of course, is part of its charm. It's simple, meaning you can relax and enjoy the ride.
You can't die, and you can't take any damage. Instead, enemies that feel more grumpy than antagonistic will push you back, merely inconveniencing your progress. Only one chase sequence is present in the game, but it works as a storytelling device more than anything else.
While the game is quite short (maybe stretching out to three and a half hours if you're taking your time), it feels fitting for what Hoa is. It doesn't stay its welcome, and if it were much longer, its simple platforming would become incredibly monotonous.
Gameplay Rating: 4/5
Peace and Quiet
Hoa is a heart-warming game that offers its players a reprieve from the chaos and stress of everyday life. Although its puzzles and platforming are basic, its simplicity lets you relax and enjoy a peaceful landscape full of creatures that are just happy to see you again.
Some players may find multiple playthroughs to present the opportunity to explore more completely and find a few secrets they hadn't found on their first time around. Others may end up finding these all on their first go.
Replayability Rating: 3/5
Hoa is a simple puzzle platformer whose charm lies in its innocent sense of peace and wonder. While short, the game exists to calm players and has that in spades.