Ex-detective Judith is angry. Two years ago, she was attacked by a group of mysterious figures. Though she survived, she lost her job and has been fuming ever since. Hungry for the opportunity for some good old-fashioned revenge, she tracks them to a masquerade. Hauma is a noir-style detective thriller following our hardboiled heroine as she investigates a vast conspiracy. TechRaptor previewed a short section, and the full release is expected sometime later this year.
Describing itself as an "interactive graphic novel," Hauma is a point-and-click game with some small investigation and puzzle-solving elements. Mousing over a person or object Judith can interact with will highlight them, allowing her to gather information or fiddle with switches. The preview featured a quick recap of Judith's backstory, followed by her attempts to get into the event and disrupt it.
Thanks to good old-fashioned ingenuity, our trusty toolbox, and some moderate vandalism, Judith assembles a disguise and slips into the masquerade. A friendly bartender, the only man not concealing his face, gives Judith information about the facility and the people gathered there. He mentions feeling uneasy, that the group is a hub for extremism and occult activity, and that he always goes home before their ceremony starts. They meet every two years, it turns out. The bartender can pour Judith a glass of hauma, which tastes rather sweet.
Continuing her investigation, Judith eavesdrops on various members of the masquerade and uses the information to weasel her way into their good graces. Apparently, one of the drinks of hauma contains a bone, and the lucky person has the opportunity to meet with Map, the leader. Faking her way into winning, Judith answers some trivia questions (the answers to which the players may have found out earlier) to prove herself worthy. If successful, she is unmasked and some express their shock at her presence. Drawing her pistol, Judith destroys the chandelier overhead and flees in the ensuing chaos.
Hauma has complete voice acting. Even Judith's thoughts include a sound clip, and it's quite well-done. The characters have their own distinct tones and feelings. They come across as slimy, haughty, or earnest, and the dialogue feels natural. The soundtrack is pretty understated, and while it was appropriate to the scene Hauma was trying to set it didn't particularly stand out. Much of the time it seemed drowned out by the voice acting.
Speaking of scenes, Hauma does a good job with its backgrounds and character art. Many of the lines are somewhat scratchy, while the colored backgrounds are rather blurry and reminiscent of a painting. The talking character busts, however, are much sharper and more defined than the background assets and many of the interactable people and objects. This creates a bit of a visual clash, particularly in the bar and ballroom areas where you spend much of the action. Some of this may be unfinished assets, but that wasn't entirely clear. While I like both styles, they don't always play nice in this instance.
Though it certainly could use some polish, Hauma has potential. The preview was rather short, and I didn't find myself stumped for very long on any particular puzzle, but the bones of the game are there. The highlight for me was definitely the full voice acting, which had great mixing and personality. In the future, I'd like to see more consistent visuals, the dialogue trees expanded, and more outcomes for the decisions Judith makes. Hauma seems willing to take on some very dark concepts and explore them, and I hope they can carry that energy into the full release. It wasn't clear if supernatural forces were at play, as there are pieces of evidence that support either case (Haoma has roots in Zoroastrianism, but whether the title refers to the same thing is uncertain).
Judith's investigation will require some serious gumshoeing. To find out what's really going on with the upper crust, she'll need to make tough decisions and watch her back. Help her out in the full version of Hauma, and be sure to check back with us here for all of your cult infiltration news.
TechRaptor previewed Hauma on PC using a copy provided by the developers. The game is set to release some time in 2021.