Hidden Folks came as a surprise, not only in concept, but also aesthetically in its design presentation. A beautiful mix between “Where's Wally?” and Hidden Object games that bring something rejuvenated and interesting to a whole new set of players, especially those who enjoy Indie games at their best.
Built using Unity, It quickly made into a very popular Steam release, with over three thousand positive reviews, and with a concept that some may consider basic, it has won over a legion of fans. But what makes it so special and memorable? Is it the simple but interactive hand drawn design or the overall gameplay experience? It’s actually a little of both.
Completely in 2D, Hidden Folks take players through different areas where finding characters and objects are the main goal. The areas range from small, into enormous, with hundreds of objects and people all over the place. It can be overwhelming at times, considering many of us would expect a book size area, or something similar. Instead, we have four distinct areas; Forest, Dry Lands, City, Snow, and Factory. Each area contains four or five levels, and those levels range in difficulty, from the most simple and short map, to increasingly delivering us a madness of an open area to explore.
Hidden Folks delivers its magic through the most simple, and yet complex design; simple white and black drawings, and still creating substance, shadows, effects, panorama and environment, without being repetitive or boring. A reverse color scheme is also available, and also a color one, replacing white for a dark beige. Changing contrast is possible as well, for those with light sensitivity. But there’s a lot more to the design than the chosen colors, Its constant amazing ideas reflect in its design and you can tell the developers had a lot of fun creating this game, and they want us to have all that fun as well. Players can easily find humour all over the game, in a well placed manner of course.
(As can been seen from the image, folks come in a large variety, of all shapes and sizes!)
Maps are filled with life, each area has a very unique feeling, although maintaining all the familiar traces, but always adding something new. Every map has a lot of “folks” waving and just minding their own business. Players have to find and discover specific little folks by clicking on them. Each map has several objectives to find, the larger the map, the bigger the amount. Some folks need to be rescued as well, which means players will have to interact with objects or the environment itself, such as open doors, pressing platforms, or moving clouds way from climbers in trouble.
Each area has its own signature. Dry Lands for instance, are filled with amazing details such as a small oasis, a forest of cactus, a burning man festival, lost travelers, dunes, and much much more. It’s a huge map, and it’s definitely scary to wonder how one must find specific things in such a large area. Other areas, such as the Factory, deliver a frenetic and what it seems at first, a very complex experience in an over-populated industrial machine beaming with machinery.
One thing this game does well, it's how it captures your memory through level areas. Exploring each area of the map, small things stand out, pinpoints engraved through a change in the map, like an agglomeration of cars, or people, or just different sections. It’s nonetheless interesting and fascinating to see how your mind becomes one with the whole map after an hour, and everything becomes so much easier. It’s definitely a testament to one’s memory or ability to remember the small details.
Finding the little folks, or discovering objects are not as random as it may seem. Each necessary object has a hint, and a large one. Its description reveals the correct area through wordplays or just suggesting a specific spot to start looking at. It’s very important to explore the map first, so all the hints will start making more and more sense. It’s clearly a puzzle game at the end of the day, but we love it nonetheless. Challenging as it may be, the fun of it lies in your ability to think and rewind your own memory, trying to figure out where those little sneaky folks may be. Finding them on your own is extremely rewarding and satisfying, and the harder ones end up being the really easy ones once you understand their position.
Hidden Folks not only presents us with a fantastic design, but also a terrific and hilarious soundtrack. It’s not music, let’s start there, it’s actually… Sound effects, all done, verbally. You see, every time you interact with most objects in the game, either its cars, animals, people, doors, you name it, everything has a sound effect. That sound was made vocally, meaning someone actually went to the effort of expressing all sorts of buzes, peeps, roars, and everything you can even imagine. Some of them are so unexpected, that you’ll just giggle and click again hoping to hear it again. It’s a fantastic and original concept, and impossible not to love hearing. The soundworks are actually available for purchase through steam as a DLC, containing all 71 sounds in MP3. This is a great idea to add to a special bundle, or just purchase for curiosity or to add that special extra support to the developers, who worked with Hidden Folks for 3 years straight, and for that, I am thankful.
Hidden Folks is a very special game, but only if you enjoy a slow-paced challenge. It’s highly recommended that you play it while relaxed and with all the time in the world, even if you only play for only 20 minutes. Sometimes, having a pause changes the whole perspective, so please remember to take frequent pauses.
Future areas will be added according to the developers, at least an extra one called Beach has been confirmed. We surely can expect more from Hidden Folks, but as it stands, it’s a fantastic experience, offering up to five hours of gameplay (or more), and a high value of replaying in the future. Since we don’t know how much content will be added, it’s safe to say that play hours will rise.
A unique design that was built with passion and love, and anyone can easily see that in its originality. A solid game, a fun experience, with cute hidden little folks everywhere!