Steam Cleaning #36: Hidden Folks

Hidden Folks is among the simplest video games I’ve ever played. A monochromatic landscape spreads out before me, and I am to click and interact with the little people all over the screen as I search for certain characters. Clever hints lead me along, ensuring I don’t get too frustrated or bored.

It’s nice. With visual gags hearkening back to interactive books like Where’s Waldo?, Hidden Folks stuffs life and vitality into every screen. Even the largest screens have something going on just about everywhere there is to look.

I’m not sure I really love the concept of Hidden Folks, though.

The monochromatic pencil-sketch style that gives the game its identity also means nothing stands out. In picture-find books, the distinctive colors of the target catch, draw, or misdirect the eye. Not so here, which can lead to blind frustration.

In addition, sometimes my target isn’t visible until I mouse click to interact with something on the screen. Usually the hints will assist me in knowing where to look, but it can turn the game from a careful search to a ‘click on trees’ simulator.

With these two ‘innovations’ in mind, I have to wonder… why not just use a search and find book? Why play Hidden Folks at all? The only answer I can come up with is, perhaps, aesthetic. I like the little vocalized noises when I click things, I like the silly interactions and clever hints. I’m just not sure it makes for a better game than I could find in a book.

Verdict: 1 hour played.

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