App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Hidden object games have always felt like the lowest common denominator of touchscreen gaming. They're dead simple to understand, offer a decent challenge, and don't seem terribly complicated to make. This is probably why they're a well represented genre on bartop touchscreen devices like the Megatouch. I hadn't really seen or played a hidden object game that challenged these feelings until I played Hidden Folks. While it is very much a hidden object game, it's also beautiful, creative, and fun.
Like every hidden object game, Hidden Folks presents players with a scene and asks them to find certain objects within that scene. Once players have found a certain number of objects they can move onto the next scene or stay in the one they're currently in to try and find everything on the list.
It's a form of game that feels ripped directly from Where's Waldo and I Spy books. Hidden Folks takes this concept a few steps further though by presenting living environments full of people and things moving and reacting to one another that you can manipulate with your taps. While certain objects will remain static and constantly in plain view, others might be hidden in drawers that you need to open or hiding behind grass that you need to tap to cut down.
Instead of merely hunting visually and tapping once on your target, Hidden Folks demands that you poke and prod its worlds during your hunt, which gives unexpected life to the scenes you're looking at. Instead of feeling like a static picture, the scenes in Hidden Folks feel like little, monochromatic dioramas that you pick through and learn from as you find items on your list.
Later into the experience scenes get pretty overwhelming, and the prospect of poking windows to open them as you search for a single pair of sunglasses in an entire city scene seems impossiblly tedious. Thankfully though, Hidden Folks provides clever hints for each of its items that always give you some direction in your otherwise aimless searching. Additionally, the game provides some tiny, vingnette-style scenes between its larger levels which serve a dual purpose as nice little palate cleaners as well as a way to introduce new objects and ways to interact with environments on small scale.
Sounds like a winner
The interactivity of Hidden Folks is a really neat touch, but that alone doesn't make the game stand out. What makes Hidden Folks such a pleasure is its interactivity paired with its amazing audio/visual design. Its hand drawn, single-color visual design is used to fantastic effect to create visually crowded scenes that are still remarkably readable, and these scenes are filled with an incredible amount of sound effects that were made solely with the developers' voices.
This means that as you prod doors, cars, and computers with your finger, you're greeted with a person's voice approximating door creaks, car horns, and computer beeps in a way that is both silly and incredibly charming. These are small touches, for sure, but they have the incredible effect of making the scenes in Hidden Folks fun and surprising, even when you aren't finding things on your list.
The bottom line
As a game, Hidden Folks is still just a hidden object game, but as an experience, it's a lot more than that. Its charming presentation really brings every scene to life and layers in a sense of discovery beyond just finding items on a list. This liveliness is so compelling that it's hard for me not to recommend this game, even if you flat-out don't like hidden object games.