Hook Up Preview - "A game to get hook(ed) up on?"
A game or a dating app? The answer might seem simple at first, yet a concrete answer is still blurry. It would be a grave understatement to place Hook Up into one of these two categories, when, in fact, the experience is something three levels deeper.
When I first dove in, the graphics captivated me in a matter of seconds. They're unique, quirky, and the colour palette is spot on! Really, that chromatic choice had an impact on me, so I can't help but praise it. The visuals are simple, yet have the much-desired effect of making you feel like you're in the character's shoes and can see the world through her eyes.
The Hook Up narrativeThe game's plot seems straightforward at first glance, but we're about to dive into something a tad deeper further down in this Hook Up preview. For now, all you need to know is that you play as a girl who's fallen in love with her high school bully and matches with him on a dating app. Everything's straightforward so far, but there are layers to this narrative.
From the dark underlying tones to the actual conversations with all the random characters you can meet on a dating app, you can explore several styles, characters and have all sorts of unique interactions based on their personality.
The story starts off innocently but then...This is the point where we start arguing that Hook Up is more of a game and experience than just a typical "interactive faux dating app game". The interactions and character replies are what would probably expect them to be on big dating apps (honestly, I haven't dabbled too much in those, so I can only speculate).
However, after awkwardly sending a 'kissy face' emoji to someone, I instantly felt like I wanted to take it back - the game read my mind and did just that and came up with an awkward excuse, something along the lines of 'typo sry'. I was astonished.
That's not to say you cannot escalate the conversation to something much more exciting. You probably can, but I instinctively chose the responses which best applied to me - and oh they were totally spot on!
Moving on, we're about to dive into the part of the game that is less playful, and more serious. The character you play slowly reveals to the bully what she's been through, as well as the journey that changed her, and that is where the story takes a 180-degree turn. What seemed like playful flirting and sexual innuendos becomes a matter of reality, mental health, and psychological trauma all but explained in simple words carried out in a casual conversation.
Is Hook Up too dark? Too real?The matters addressed in the game are matters many people deal with, and it would be an understatement to say that there are not enough games that address this in such a real manner as Hook Up does. I don't believe the game is too dark, I believe it's something that many can relate to and that makes it unique.
There are games that completely overlook the dark aspects of life in favour of the good and joyful moment. These are moments present in Hook Up too, but they are not as embellished as you might expect. There is fun and joy in finding an old friend, and in the conversation that ensues, for instance.
So no, I would argue that there are both joyful and real moments in the game, and that's how you need to take it. It's a game, and that's always something to keep at the back of your mind. If there is an interaction you aren't particularly fond of, restart.
Hook Up gameplayAs an interactive visual novel of sorts, Hook Up won't require you to break your fingers trying to cast spells or fend off enemies - unless, of course, we're talking about some random (in-game) hookup. Everything's straightforward, and there is a particular perk that I enjoy a lot.
In Hook Up, you can check out the other characters' profiles and even change your own. You can set up preferences, change your display picture, and all of these will affect the partners you'll match with. It made me want to play through the game several times for that reason alone.
On the same note, I am still curious about the reason behind Chris' decision.
Should you play it?If you want a unique experience in a unique game with a unique approach, it's something I wholeheartedly recommend. Hook Up seems like one of those games where you feel like if you give a different answer it can change the entire outcome of the game, and if that's something up your alley, you need to give it a try.
The graphics are fairly simple, but convey the essence of everything portrayed in them. It's a game of love, hate, sex and pain (and no, no reference to a particular song here) which is told in a casual everyday language for anybody to understand and relate to.
It opens up difficult topics that are not often showcased in games, and especially not in a manner like this one. I want more games like it - or at least, more possible interactions!