I’ll throw this up front: There’s probably very little about the Hobo RPG that is politically correct, so let’s just get that out of the way and talk about this as a video game, not as a cultural statement. In this game, you play a homeless man who has to survive on the streets of Praslav, a Czech-based city (this game was developed by a Czech dev team).
There’s bad language, shady situations, alcohol, smoking, drugs and much adult content. So if any of those things bother you in a game, it’s probably not for you.
All that aside, I’m enjoying the game for the gameplay itself. I’d looked at this game before when it was on sale, but it wasn’t until my sister picked it up and asked if I wanted to try it that I bought it last week.
Basically, it’s like a hardcore survival game version of The Sims, but you’re a hobo. You have to figure out how to stabilize your needs – food, energy, bathroom, happiness – as a baseline before you do anything else. My first few hours with the game was discovering how all that works – if any of your stats drop too low, they directly take down your health stat.
When you die in this game, the penalty can be pretty sharp. Your stats are docked and capped 10% lower than they would have been each time. The only way to reverse this is to use an item that costs 2,000 crowns. And in the beginning, 2,000 crowns is not easy for an inexperienced player to make.
It’s not a forgiving game. It doesn’t hold your hand. You will be struggling to figure out how to meet your needs. But once you get over that learning curve, and you get the hang of it… they throw snowstorm calamities at you.
Yeah. Every time I felt like I was finally getting a leg-up in this game, something would come along and knock me off my high horse. I’ve put 33 hours into it and have survived the first season – but I’ve heard season two and three are much harder.
But something about it keeps me coming back. Namely, the interesting skill system and the ongoing storyline you build as you explore and work up reputation with the NPCs in the game.
I really like the variety of skills you utilize to survive in this game. It’s unique.
As you can probably tell from the picture above, I favor talking, begging and crafting over stealing and lockpicking. I’ve only just gotten to the point where I can work up trading, but I’m enjoying that.
Dumpster diving is… I never thought I’d say this… fun. It’s like opening a treasure chest and trying to find something useful from it.
Lately, I’ve been able to fish out broken electronics such as keyboards, lamps, and headphones. Then I repair them with my engineering perk and take them back out on the street where I pedal them for crowns.
Perks are a nice system on top of the leveling system that unlocks deeper gameplay with more options. These are hard-earned traits that you learn by working up your trust levels with NPCs who then train you for a cost.
As you can see, I don’t have a lot of these just yet – I’m just starting to get to the point where I’m building enough trust for some of them.
Now that I have worked up to master begging at a high level, chatting and begging on the streets is my bread and butter. This is a neat system where you interact with normal passer-bys – they can refuse to talk at all if your charisma is too low – then engage in a game of balancing your talking with your begging, selling and stealing (if you choose).
The higher your level in all these things, the higher your percentage of success is. I’m at a point where when I beg, most of the time strangers give me items or food along with money. This is super, super helpful because things like coffee can keep you from needing to sleep, and any handouts save money on having to buy supplies. So it’s like a donation on top of a donation.
Of course, if you attempt to steal from a stranger or from a non-public bin – or lockpick bins that are locked – you can get caught and tossed in jail. There are also really annoying thugs that hang around the dark back streets who will jump you, take your money or smokes – or you can choose to fight it out. I’m not at a point where I’m strong enough in fighting to take them on yet, but I’m interested in seeing what happens if I train more in defense and offense.
And then there’s base building. Or rather, shelter building. There are four different locations within the city where you can build up your own shelter from objects you find and craft. You can also store items at the shelter, which can be shared with everyone in the game.
We didn’t start to build or utilize our shelter until a bit too late in the game – we knew it existed but not how it worked or how it benefited us. Another case of the game not holding your hand there. It became a real game changer when we found the additional shared storage, not to mention realized we could put a sleeping couch next to a fire barrel and sleep in warmth. Plus, when you hit certain milestones with your shelter, you can opt for permanent boosts and buffs.
As the days go on, it gets colder and more challenging to survive. Once we hit day 30, we were slapped with what the game calls a calamity.
During this time, the city is hit with a blizzard at -5 degree weather. No NPCs are on the streets and all the shops are closed. This means that you have to hunker down, stay warm, and live off of what you have in your inventory until the storm passes. The ultimate survival test in this game.
This came at us completely unaware, but we managed to live through the first one. After that, the weather warmed up to a balmy 50+ degrees, which we’ve been using to our advantage. I hear calamities pop up randomly in the second and third seasons, though. So, we’re stocking up and hunting better gear.
The ultimate goal of the game is to become the Homeless King and unite the hobo community to lead them to a better future. At this point, I haven’t earned any votes towards this (nor do I really care all that much about winning this), but it’s neat to have a final goal for the game if you do want something to work towards.
All in all, this was an unlikely game to enjoy, but I have. I still have a lot of skills and perks to earn, so I’m looking forward to toughing it out in the next two seasons!