Release Date: 15/02/2017
Played On: PC
Available On: PC / Android
Time Played: 4h 12m
Progress: 100% Complete
Developer: Adriaan de Jongh & Sylvain Tegroeg
Publisher: Adriaan de Jongh & Sylvain Tegroeg

Remember those old Apple Mac computers that were cutting edge in the mid-90s? They had this native program where you could put a bunch of clip art style images on a page and make them interactive and animated. I spent too much time making basic hidden object games when I was in school, but the process was satisfying and really allowed for some creative thinking. Now imagine that same type of game, with the modern power of an engine like Unity and you'll get the idea behind Hidden Folks right away.

It's a simple game consisting of a series of scenes filled with animals, people, objects, vehicles, buildings, and everything else that would clutter up a jungle, or a city. Hidden Folks reminds me of early Flash games that used a simple premise and a simple engine to make something playable and fun. Thankfully though, using a proper engine does away with the shortcomings of something like Flash to offer a more comfortable experience.

Each scene is a cacophony of sounds and sights to uncover, which is surprising when looking at a screenshot. Places really come alive in motion, with almost every element having some kind of animation or sound to interact with. 

The sound is another surprise as there's no mystery to the fact that all the sound effects were made by just recording someone making each noise. Clicking on a motorcycle gets a satisfying "brrrrroooomm", while animals and people chatter in mumbled sentences. As with the graphics, the sounds in Hidden Folks really add to the ambience of the game and help lift it above a simple hidden object pixel hunt.

At the bottom of each scene is a collection of objects and characters to find. Locating enough of them unlocks the next scene and allows you to progress, but I was taken with the game so completely that I never moved on until I found them all. Most are pretty straight forward and they all have clues associated with each target to help you look in the right spot. Some require a few steps to uncover, like moving a cloud out of the way to open a window and find someone in a high rise apartment. It adds a nice amount of depth that takes the game beyond a simple Where's Wally imitator.

Furthermore, with most elements in a scene being interactive, I found myself clicking on every drawing I could find, just to see what might happen. It's a stroke of genius to give the player a small reward for looking close at every detail, rather than presenting a static image with little to no feedback.

Unfortunately the game appears to have been released in an incomplete state, with a couple of zones being locked in the menu with a promise of "coming soon". It's understandable as a small team making the game, but now that I've completed all the available scenes, I don't think I'll be watching out for when the game gets updated with more content.

This seems like a missed opportunity, as I would be telling everyone to rush out and buy this game if it had more content. What's available is enough to be happy with the purchase, but I would have paid more money for something with three times as many scenes that I could get lost exploring for hours on end.

Even so, there is a real charm to the simplicity of Hidden Folks that I think a lot of people will resonate with. In an era of everything having to be bigger and better than anything that came before, it's nice to see a simple idea executed well.

Simplicity can also be inspiring, as Hidden Folks has nowhere to hide and it's fairly straight forward to discern how the game systems work and were put together. I'm not saying that anyone could whip it up easily, but if you were starting out and learning how to make games, this could be a good type of project to make. It also stimulates the artist in me, which appreciates how hand-made everything is, while still remaining polished and clean.

I'd love to see another Hidden Folks that ends up being much larger and with more content - that sort of game would definitely be my jam. This is a great little game that I think shows a lot of promise in its ideas and execution, so it's definitely worth a little bit of money for a few hours of hidden object fun.

Sometimes all you want is an afternoon where you can start and finish a game in a single sitting and be satisfied. Hidden Folks delivers, but make no mistake that it's a basic hidden object game; it just has a whole lot of personality as well.

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