“E, stop running, you’re scuffing the carpets!… No! Not my favorite shirt! Go back to your running!” – This has been my life for the past week. I wish I hadn’t introduced E to Hogwash, but what’s done is done.
For those of you wondering what I’m bellyaching about, last week my youngest and I were again trawling Apple Arcade in search of our next adventure. Cute animals are sure-fire kiddy catnip, and E is no exception. He latched onto Hogwash faster than a fighter jet, and now he oinks all day and refuses to take a bath. I guess what I’m saying is I should have known.
The upside is that Hogwash is a breath of fresh air in a world saturated with subpar mobile game experiences. To be sure, it falls flat in certain areas, but far surpassed my expectations in others – in this review, I deal with them all in turn. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What is Hogwash?
One of the better mobile games on Apple Arcade, Hogwash is pure head-scrambling fun. I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a fast-paced romp to spend some quality time on with your kids over the weekend.
Boasting a vibrant and invitingly colorful visual palette, it has some of the cutest graphics I’ve seen on Arcade, making it kid-friendly right off the bat. It also rewards a certain kind of juvenile naughtiness, which must be another reason why it spoke to E’s discerning tastes the way it did.
The player controls one of a bunch of pigs that have managed to break free from their cage. The game’s objective is to destroy the juicy surrounding crops by rushing into them, simply so you can roll in the resulting mud puddle. You then need to smear mud across all of the farmer’s prized possessions while the poor guy runs you down with a water hose. No wonder the game’s so popular among kids!
Hogwash: Gameplay Review
1. Gameplay and Game Modes
Currently, there is only one mode available in-game, which is single-player. Although there appears to be a multiplayer mode on offer too, the matchmaking doesn’t work. Once the piggies escape, the farmer puts on this kind of Ghostbustereqsue pig-wrangling getup and starts to chase you. He will clean and hog-tie you if he manages to catch you. You have 5 minutes to soil his ‘prized possessions’, and if you’ve managed to nail at least two, you win the game.
Although the tutorial appeared a bit lengthy compared to most mobile games’ FTUE, if you have the patience it does a great job of taking you through the controls and explaining the basics. The gameplay is pretty friendly and intuitive, however, so you can also get away with not bothering.
2. Fun and Enjoyability
The artwork is refreshing, and the character movement feels incredibly satisfying and smooth. I think one key reason for E’s bond with our pig was the controls. A child’s mind is full of energy, and Hogwash’s gameplay managed to frictionlessly convert E’s mile-a-minute thought process into fluid in-game navigation. This degree of freedom of movement is one of Hogwash’s most significant plus points.
The devs have managed to create a masterfully fun and accessible experience for kids. However, all this fun is sometimes limited by the frequently restrictive camera movement. They had a great vision, but it feels as if they abandoned work on the display midway through development.
Now, I hesitate to go on to criticize such a charming game, but you guys deserve the unwashed truth. My first playthrough was not quite as pleasant as E’s. The controls might be perfectly geared to a 4-year-old – but it’s actually a little too erratic for someone actively concentrating and playing the game to win.
As mentioned above, the camera movement is too abrupt, making it hard to pinpoint and aim the piggy-charge. Minor finger movements jerk the camera way off-course from the player’s POV. Although the game provides a genuinely fun-filled experience once you get used to the sensitivity, some players might not bother getting over that first hurdle at all.
4. UI/UX and Game Design
Hogwash has a unique art style which I haven’t come across playing any other Apple Arcade titles. One thing it lacks, though, is quality customization.
The skins all look the same, distinguishable by only the most minuscule changes. They’re locked behind a progression system, and their mundane designs really don’t incentivize the grind.
Hogwash lacks a lot when it comes to cues and feedback. For instance, I personally would have liked a distinct alert for when the farmer is close. Something as simple as a large exclamation mark would have sufficed, but instead you only get little footsteps on the ground, which is decidedly hard to notice when you’re steering a crazed pig around the place.
The same goes for your buddies. I’d propose a constant marker that keeps relaying the position of your porkers-in-arms throughout the map. Even a simple visual indicator signifying when they are getting captured would have make the game a whole lot more intuitive and engaging.
Hogwash, in my opinion, is a sorely underrated game in the Apple Arcade canon. Even with all its frustrating drawbacks, it manages to deliver a substantial gaming experience. One wonders what might be possible if the developers actually took time to improve the game. Introducing just half the quality-of-life changes that occur instantly to the average player would seriously improve the gameplay.
Quibbles aside, ultimately what matters is fun and me E had more than our share over the weekend. So, if you’re vetting kid-friendly games on Apple Arcade, know that Hogwash is an excellent option to enjoy with your goombas. While you’re at it, check out Super Mega Mini Party, another game that gave us a load of laughs the week before.
If you enjoy my recommendations, feel free to leave a comment below sharing your favorite in-game moments. Until next time, and Happy Gaming!