Hakoniwa is one of those games that should have never seen the light of day outside of Japan. It is weird, quirky, and has enough scattered adult humor throughout it that most companies probably wouldn’t have taken a risk on it. Luckily, the oddity was brought to our shores and we can enjoy a voxel inspired RPG that just throws the player into the world, akin to the games of old. Throughout, the game is completely unapologetic about what it is—and that makes it work in ways that most modern games fail.
Watch our stream of Hakoniwa Explorer Plus below:
Visually the game is fantastic to look at. Inspired by post 16-bit era voxel, three dimensional pixels, graphics with vibrant color that seemed to have disappeared from the past time in the last several decades. The visuals have the standard niche anime coating to them as well, as is to be expected of the lesser known titles that come out of that country. While the art style is probably the most memorable part of the entire game, the bosses are the real take away of the game, as they are large, fluidly animated, and unique to anything that has really come before.
That sense of being its own thing permeates through the entire game as well, from the shops to the almost entire lack of story. Villagers don’t like being approached from behind, as they think the player character is trying to accost them in one way or another. If this is done enough they will actually attack the player. All shops can be leveled up by giving them the correct components, making them more and more useful on repeated trips. And then there is the evil version of the warehouse girl that scams the player out of thousands of gold and will attack them on site until it is paid back.
Hakoniwa Explorer Plus is reasonably priced action RPG at 10 dollars, but it is also being sold on steam so that is entirely subject to whatever random sale that may be going on at any moment. For the price that is being asked it is entirely a no brainer to pick up, as there is vastly more fun to be had here than the cost of admission. Anyone that might be put off by the graphics or lack of story need just give the game a chance and realize that there is something special hidden here.