I think I am safe to say that we have all heard of “Where’s Wally?” or “Where’s Waldo?” in the states. The idea is that you need to search through a very crowded and detailed image in order to look for Wally and a number of other people and objects. It’s very simple but satisfying and has kept generations of children entertained on long journeys. The PC is also flooded with hundreds of ‘hidden object games’ which work in a very similar manner with the company Big Fish Games alone having over 100 of the titles on steam and there are many more companies producing them. So it seems to me very surprising then that it has taken this long for something that emulates the original formula so well to come along.
From time to time I’ve dipped my toes into Hidden object games, especially on tablet , with the most recent example I can think of being GAME NAME. Whilst these newer games are certainly interesting they get so wrapped up in trying to innovate with all of their flashy (yet terrible) cutscenes, dreadfully written stories and mini games that the original idea feels somehow lost. So in this seemingly bloated and stale genre Hidden Folks is here to return it to its roots.
The concept should need little explaining, you’re given a list of things to find and you need to click on them. However Hidden Folks takes full advantage of the digital nature of the game by making the environment intractable. In order to find a sleeping monkey you might need to knock it out of a tree or to find the mechanic you need to open a garage door. This additional challenge is offset by each target being given a small cryptic clue to help you find it. This has the rather positive effect of swapping from blind searching to making you think about roughly where the object might be… then looking at the 50 or so nearly identical people to find the right one.
Hidden Folks has a wonderful rough hand drawn arty style that lends itself to theme being simple enough to allow for distinct yet not too obvious objects to be hidden in the world. However it also has some incredibly annoying sound effects. They’re all made by a person but rather than the cute charm you’d find from something like Botanicula I found them highly irritating and turned them off immediately. This in itself isn’t a huge trauma as I simply put on my own music to enjoy with it.
Perhaps the biggest blow to the game is it’s shortness and lack of replayability. I found everything there was to find within just under two hours and once you know where the objects are there’s little point in continuing. The developers are however promising new content in the future and if this comes out at a reasonable rate i have little doubt that it’s something I will return to again and again.
Overall Hidden Folks comes out as a rather wonderful short but sweet experience. Something for when you want to wind down and just relax with something fun but not too taxing. It’s simple style and game play may not be for everyone but if there is ever a game I really hope I’ll be able to come back to it’s this one.
Disclaimer: The review key for this product was provided by the developer free of charge.