The Runic Games booth was another hot-spot at this weekend’s PAX East as they were rolling out a highly anticipated demo of their upcoming title, HOB. Runic’s previous titles, the award winning Torchlight and Torchlight 2, lead most of us present to speculate that HOB was going to be another great entry into the world of Action/Adventure RPGs. The demo, however, boasted so much more.
The world of HOB is, to put it opaquely, one of totally mystery. As the player you are forced to explore a lush, sprawling planet where the beauty of nature is being intruded on by a dark, sinister menace. However your placement in this world as well as the reason for this new, creeping threat are directly related to a lost race that has long since passed from the world. Or perhaps they abandoned it. You must re-acquire lost technology left behind by this ancient culture to unlock answers and new mysteries as to what your real purpose is in this place as well as discover the true nature of the planet itself. Why was it abandoned? What is this menace? And what does this lost technology actually do? Is it meant to help you save the world…or perhaps destroy it?
Speculative sentencing aside, HOB was a complete joy to play. Controlling the main character in HOB was a complete breeze and quickly became second nature as I ran, jumped, dove, rolled, grappled, fought, and explored my way through the demo. The Runic Level Design team revels in hiding visually stunning moments in their games and HOB was no exception. Traversing to the edge of some of the higher areas in one of the forest levels resulted in a gorgeous, panoramic shot filled with vibrant colors and textures. You can easily find yourself just staring at some of the screens in HOB, lost in the detail and scope of the beauty or pushing yourself to head off the beaten path for some hidden gems and views.
But the world of HOB is hardly without danger and death and I was forced to defend myself against terrifying monsters as well as a series of creatures that were mechanical and twisted in nature. Could they perhaps be part of the ancient race that once lived here? And are they really my enemy…or perhaps trying to stop me from making a world-ending mistake?
The Runic Team at PAX were tight-lipped about exact story details and merely grinned mischievously at my wide-eyed speculation of HOB. What they did say is that HOB is looking to be released on PS4 and PC in the next year and will be a blast for everyone. I, for one, agree.