If you are from Europe then you’ll remember it as “Where’s Wally?“, whereas if you are from the US, you’ll remember it as “Where’s Waldo?” Either way, if you were born sometime around the 90s, there is a good chance you had a few of Wally‘s books and you spent hours trying to find every hidden person and item in the huge, drawn-out with lots of colours, pages. Wally was the main person, but there were so many other little things to find.
Fast forward to 2017 and we have a huge abundance of hidden object games. However, none of those really have the sparkle or the awesome mystery that Wally carried with him. Fortunately, this problem has been solved and we finally have the what I would personally call, the most successful heir to Where’s Wally? Enter Hidden Folks by Adriaan de Jongh and Sylvain Tegroeg. (If I was not living in the Netherlands for the past 4 years, trust me I would have entirely misspelled those names..)
Hidden Folks has so many good parts to talk about that I am not even sure what to begin with. Let’s take it one by one though and start with the gameplay. Unlike most of your hidden object games, Hidden Folks stands out from the very first few moments into it. Everything is moving. Not just moving, but elegantly enacting some sort of activity that actually makes the world we are looking at, feel so alive as if it was a page that came out of Where’s Wally? book page, only superbly animated. I will not get deeper into the visuals just yet, but it is important to note, that the fact that everything is moving adds so many more dimensions to the whole finding hidden objects (and folks in this case) gameplay. Not only are most of the things interact-able, but they actually make you think in ways that you wouldn’t have to in order to progress in any other classic hidden object game.
With 17 levels available, scattered throughout four differently themed areas, you can imagine that you will be doing a lot of looking around to find stuff. Currently, only 14 of those levels are available, but the rest are marked as “soon” so we can expect them “soon” I guess.
It is really magnificent actually, how the game introduces us to a certain kind of logic before each area and then allows our problem-solving capabilities within it to evolve as we explore each nicely sculpted area. There is even an area where we just get one of the folks from one end to another without having to do any finding and seeking. That level basically serves the purpose of teaching us stuff that we may not have tried out if we were left to our devices in a normal hidden object level. It is honestly really intuitive and more user friendly than I would have expected.
Another huge plus of the gameplay is the hint system that is entirely optional. Not really called a “hint system” per say, but if we click on any of the folks or objects that we need to find at the bottom of our screen, then a little box with text gives us a hint that may allow us to locate that particular hidden person/object much easier. It does not even feel like cheating, since it is actually fun to sometimes decipher these little riddles that are left for us.
Gameplay is not the only strong element of Hidden Folks though and that is easily noticeable by even a five year old, since the very minimalistic and perfectly drawn world of the game is what will most probably attract most players to it. The game is even available on iOS devices and having the chance to try it during Gamescom 2016, I can tell you that it works just as well on that as it did on a PC screen. Everything is black and white but that is actually a huge plus when it comes to the visuals. Colour would have made the game easier in my opinion and it would have subtracted from the unique character that the title has created for itself.
The animations are also quite captivating. It is not only the nice sketches that draw you to this world, but also the fluid, vibrant environment of each area that makes you feel as if you want to check out every single moving thing in the area before you move on. I actually found all the items in some areas and wanted to keep looking around in case I missed any little shenanigans that were happening in the area. Very much like Where’s Wally? where people did random things at random places throughout each page.
I am comparing this a lot to the Wally books, but being a huge Wally fan, I cannot help but constantly describe to you the awesome feelings that this game managed to give me, which all compare awesomely with the ones that the Wally books gave me in the past.
Last but not least, the sounds. Oh dear, the sounds got me by surprise, because, even though the game has quite a funny side to it, you do not fully realize it until you turn up your volume. I actually played the game with my speakers being on and quite loud and the whole house was booming every time I clicked on something. Every single thing or area that you click on, has its own sound. What is splendidly unique in the case of Hidden Folks though, is that every sound is made by a person. All the animals, objects and all other sorts of things, make sounds that were produced by someone’s mouth. Click on a chicken and you’ll hear a guy go “bok bok bok!” I am telling you, halfway through the game, I had clicked on everything at least three times in order to see all the possible sounds they can make.
The game does not lack in any of the parts that it sought to be good at and therefore I did not really feel as if anything was missing. As with all games of this genre, content is always an issue after a while, so I think I will most definitely be disappointed after a while just because one of my favourite games has no more stuff to explore. You can of course reset your progress and try it again but other than that, it is entirely up to the developers and how much they want to keep updating the game from here on. It becomes a “games as a service” kind of issue which is a whole different kind of topic (that a lot of indie developers seem to actually be discussing lately too). I would most definitely love to see a Christmas or Halloween themed area, I know that much.
Hidden folks is available on PC, Linux and Mac through Steam for 7,99€ (currenly with a 10% discount) but also on iOS devices through iTunes.
This is a must have for any hidden object games enthusiast and a must have for pretty much anyone that enjoys a good hunt for pixels now and then. The game is so well made when it comes to teaching you the ins and outs of how to play it that it should not be too hard to even show it to young kids. I was very excited about this game when I saw it some months ago and I am very happy to say that it left me only happy and excited for what is to come next.
+ Awesomely sketched out world with good animations
+ Really good tutorials that are barely even noticeable and feel as if they are part of the game
+ The game’s sound effects will make your day
– Content is not too much but not the biggest of issues
– Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis