Hidden Folks

Factfile
Developed by:Adriaan de Jongh and Sylvain Tegroeg
Published by:Adriaan de Jongh
Released:2018
Format played:PC – Steam

What Is It?

Playing video games can, at times, be a somewhat lonely experience. Sure, online multiplayer has created communities of gamers but I’m not talking about faceless hordes, I’m talking nearest and dearest.

Lost in a digital world, the memories you create and the stories you tell are yours and yours alone. But every once in a while you come across a game that you simply have to share. That spectacular mission from GTA. That incredible set piece from Uncharted. Basically the whole of Metal Gear Solid.

Those games all have one thing in common; they were spectacular graphical achievements and some of the finest games of their generation. And then there’s Hidden Folk.

It doesn’t have spectacular missions. It doesn’t have incredible set pieces. It doesn’t really even look like a 2018 video game, what with the monochrome, hand sketched graphics and minimalist sound. And yet it’s the sort of game that you can’t wait to show off to your friends.

Hidden Folks is basically an interactive Where’s Wally. Across 20+ environments, from forests to deserts, cities to snow, your task is to locate a set of characters or objects within the environment. Scroll around, clicking everything that moves, and plenty that doesn’t, lifting tent flaps, prodding snakes and retuning satellite dishes as you go.

Levels vary in size from single screens to multi-scrolling affairs, the shorter levels often introducing a new concept, such as moving an individual object. Within the larger areas, there are myriad items to locate, some hidden in plain sight, others requiring a bit more manipulation of the environment. Absolutely everything on screen can be clicked on and manipulated, eliciting a mouth-driven sound effect for each. Little boat on a lake? Click on it to send it across to the other side. Gorilla hanging from a tree? Tickle his tummy to make him laugh. Van sat in the car park? Click on it to honk the horn. It’s great fun just moving around the area, clicking on stuff just to see what it does.

But eventually you’ll want to get down to the serious business of finding stuff. Luckily there is no timer and no click count here. You aren’t punished for taking your time or exploring. Indeed some levels can be cleared by almost randomly clicking around the map on anything that looks remotely interesting. For a more targeted approach, click on each of the characters or items at the bottom of the screen to get a cryptic clue of where they are hiding, then sweep the map to try and figure out where the clue is leading you. In the larger levels there is a minimum requirement of items to locate before you can move to the next level but you’ll likely feel a compulsion to come back and find the rest.

It’s gloriously simple but no less fun for all that. Those basic looking visuals hide a wealth of detail whilst the interactive sounds repeatedly raise a smile. It’s not the sort of game you’ll spend hours at a time with. Indeed it may not last you that long if you did. Rather it’s the sort of game to dip in and out of, or just play in the background whilst you’re pretending to listen to the kids tell you about their day. There are some minor grumbles. Inherently it is repetitive in nature, although this is offset to a large extent by the sheer weight of creativity that has gone into each level. Some of the maps can be dauntingly large too. Some of the desert levels in particular are a challenge to hunt down every last item. One of the maps is huge and, being a desert, has pockets of the level with almost nothing in. You can zoom the map in and out to get a bigger or closer picture but even still, it is a lot of terrain to navigate, especially when some of the items to be found are so small and so many of the characters so similar looking. If you find the monochrome becomes a little tiresome, you do have options to change the colour palette, although I found neither the sepia or night time variations an improvement on the standard black and white font.

Worth Playing?

Simple and inventive, a fun game to while away a couple of hours in short burst gaming sessions and one that continually delights. So tell your friends. Tell your family. Introduce them to this wonderfully quaint, witty world. Just like I did with the wife.

Only she thought it was crap. Oh well.

8/10

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