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Game review: Hidden Folks – a searching game with surreal animation, stunning sound design and compulsive interactivity

Hidden Folks is a brilliant little game, one that breathes creative new life into the age-old idea of finding objects in busy landscapes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 8:00pm

Hidden Folks

de Jongh/Tegroeg

4/5 stars

There’s something strangely addictive about Where’s Wally books (or Waldo, if you’re American), even for us supposed adults. There’s that initial confusion and disarray followed by a thrilling sense of discovery as you find that weirdo in a striped-shirt in the busy scenes.

That concept can be traced back to the 17th-century wimmelbilder children’s books, but it takes a heightened level of creativity to translate the idea to a virtual setting. Hidden Folks (for iOS, Mac, Linux and Windows; Android coming soon) is impressive for a number of reasons.

It’s impressive in its contrasting sense of scale, where the simple task of finding hidden people is coupled with massive monochromatic canvases that are incredibly rich in detail. It’s impressive in that it takes a simple, successful and (one would think) mostly overdone concept, and builds on it through surreal animation, stunning sound design and compulsive interactivity.

But, most of all, Hidden Folks impresses by channelling the sheer creativity of two singular minds into a pared-down format that always feels distinct. Developed by game designer Adriaan de Jongh, with visuals by artist Sylvain Tegroeg, the game simply asks players to find stuff, but the real thrill comes from getting lost in its extraordinarily rich world.

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Tapping or clicking certain parts of the screen, scrolling through areas, trying out different sounds, looking into what these folks are doing – nearly everything is interactive and experimenting with different objects opens up a world of possibilities. You might, for example, have to open up a manhole to find a poem, or you might have to search through dozens of similar-looking people in your quest to find the person you’re looking for. Hints and tips help you along the way and the game rarely gets tedious, despite the multitude of seemingly pointless screen dealings.

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Added to that, is just how well Hidden Folks works across all platforms – mobile or PC, this is a game that’s been perfectly tailored to each device, and the potential for multiplayer fun makes it much more than Where’s Wally ever was.

Hidden Folks is a brilliant little game, one that takes an age-old idea and creatively runs with it.