Length: 30 minutes or less
Devices: Desktop and limited mobile
Hobo Lobo of Hamelin has been out for a few years, but its fantasy canvas of art, sound, and sarcasm is still a great example of what multimedia can offer. Looking on it now, the level of immersion is especially worth noting for anyone interested in out-of-the-box media experiences.
In the opening panels, the artwork’s muted colors establish a somber atmosphere. The stylistic choices, down to the lengthy horizontal parallax on each wide page, help to give the impression that the world extends beyond the edges of the browser.
When the story kicks off, the town of Hamelin is in trouble. It’s infested with “coked-up rats running all over the place, freaking everybody out.” The mayor of the town visits a psychic for advice on how to deal with the problem (he’s told, quite simply, to hire a professional).
Enter Hobo Lobo, our protagonist, a self-proclaimed “fraternal boiler maker,” “doer of deeds,” and “indoctrinator of youth.” Who better than he to get rid of the rat horde?
On webcomic’s third page, Hobo Lobo does lead all the rats out of Hamelin, and it’s with dramatic flair. The text largely takes a backseat to the movement of colors and art across the screen. We hear original music, see some creative parallax effects, and the level of immersion feels here unique, a moment that is purely Internet, and purely multimedia.
It’s here that Hobo Lobo hits on a perfect combination of atmosphere and story, and I wish I could see more moments like this, not only in Hobo Lobo, but in other graphic novel and interactive fiction projects. (We do get another set piece like this at the end of Hobo Lobo; sadly, though, the project hasn’t been updated in more than a year.)
An obvious criticism of Hobo Lobo is the user experience – the text feels largely disconnected from the images. Also, the experience isn’t optimized for mobile devices, but it was first released in 2011, so we can cut a bit of slack.