Hokko Life is basically Animal Crossing for PC. Let’s not beat around the bush. Cute (?) animal townsfolk to chat to. Trees to chop down. Local ecologies to devastate. Who says Nintendo hold all the rights to charming life sims?
You’re a lost human in a realm of anthropomorphic strangers. A train leaves you in a quaint rundown town that’s definitely seen better days. And despite the fact that several of the inhabitants have been living here longer than you, it falls to the new arrival – by all appearances a literal child – to start cleaning everything up.
Hokko Life‘s visuals are sort of strange. They look great in parts and garish in others. There’s a casual Japanese aesthetic that pairs well with the intentionally simplistic vibe it has, but some of the animal characters look really out of place. Funnily enough, the only ones I met that looked like they belonged were literally the elephants in the room.
The crafting aspect of Hokko Life is really where this relaxing life-sim comes into it’s own. Using the in-game crafting table, players can utilise various shapes and materials in order to make virtually anything. Not only that, but the size of each piece and their respective axes can all be adjusted easily, allowing for full creative freedom.
However, this crafting system isn’t simply handed to you on a plate. As in the real world, you’ll need to work hard to pile your resources – chopping down trees, mining ore, and finding other valuables that are scattered throughout the village. The main problem is, unlocking all these basic activities feels like a real grind at the moment. It takes so long to get the necessary currency to buy tools, and this is all amidst a horde of Early Access bugs. It’s just not a consistently rewarding experience for your time yet.
Hokko Life definitely captures that “home away from home” feel your Animal Crossing town develops over time. Before I go any further in this article, I’d really like to commend developer Robert Tatnell for what he’s accomplished so far. It really is incredibly ambitious for one person, and he obviously loves this project deeply. It is not an attempt to cash in on Animal Crossing‘s popularity amongst the PC crowd, who’ve been stuck on Stardew Valley for what seems like centuries.
If he plays his cards right in the future, he certainly could see a fair bit of success with it. There’s plenty of fresh ideas here – the crafting system is inspired, and yet makes perfect, obvious sense. But – and it’s a big but – that vision of his is a long, long way off. It took us much longer than usual to put together enough playtime for this preview, because the game just isn’t stable. Updates frequently invalidated our old save data, meaning we had to start from scratch more than once.
There are all the usual Early Access problems like texture loading and mechanics that feel rough around the edges at the moment. But the save game issue is a big one. Games like these are designed to be played for hundreds of hours. The idea is you’re starting out from scratch, building up a community exactly as you want it to be. And the thought of having to replay those painfully slow and basic starting hours multiple times is exhausting.
Hokko Life Early Access – is it worth it?
Calling Hokko Life Early Access seems a bit generous. Several patches have been released since the beginning of the Early Access period, and yet the product we have is still pretty rough. At this point in time – quite a few weeks after the initial launch on Steam – I still don’t feel comfortable recommending this to even the keenest life sim fans.
Yes, there is plenty of potential here. But there’s a very good chance it won’t ever reach its full potential, and the product you’re getting for your money right now still has a long way to go. You could lose hours of progress with a single update, and you’ll have to navigate choppy gameplay every time. I’m really hopeful for Hokko Life‘s future, though – I sincerely hope we can fully recommend it further down the line.