I’m sure a majority of kids who grew up in the 90’s share my sentiment when I say that hidden picture books like Where’s Waldo were a staple of my childhood. What might sound boring to kids these days, were hours of joy back then. Pulling out a magnifying glass or just sitting close to a book to try and spot all the hidden characters and objects I could find. Hidden Folks perfectly captures the essence of those picture books of yore and translates it into a modern interactive point and click game.
Created by a two person team composed of Adriaan de Jongh and Sylvain Tegroeg, Hidden Folks combines everything that made Where’s Waldo? with a unique visual aesthetic and adorable sound effects. Without the constraint of time limits, needing to find every object to complete a stage or limiting how you explore, the game offers a calm and relaxing atmosphere not typically found in the medium.
Hidden Folks’ stages are categorized by different locales. Starting off you’ll be hunting for people, animals and objects in dense forests full of plant and animal life. Shortly after clearing the jungles you’ll head to drylands, cities and ultimately factories. Each level is packed to the brim with miscellaneous objects and people to look through. Some items take quite the keen eye and a bit of patience to find. Luckily the game offers you a tiny description for each object you’re looking for that can help point you in a general direction. I never felt that the objects were unfairly hidden or too easy to find, there’s a good sense of balance to searching.
Quite possibly the greatest feature is the games sound design, which is entirely composed of clever mouth vocalizations by the duo developers. Anywhere you touch will have its own sound, whether it actually makes sense for the object or it’s something the sound designers came up on the fly. It works so well with the aesthetic of the game that you won’t even notice there’s no music or ambient sounds due to how much clicking you do. I found myself making random beats by mixing together sounds of nearby objects, this in itself was a fun little game within the game.
With so many object to find, I found myself sticking around longer than necessary just to explore each stage in its entirety. Almost every object you click has a little animation, whether it’s a tree trunk hissing and becoming a snake, or a hidden monkey behind a tree, there’s so much to find it’s quite the delight.
Hidden Folks features 3 color modes you can switch between on the fly. There’s the standard black and white that you can see in my screenshots, which I think work best. A beige background that helps reduce the strain on your eyes from the white and a negative mode that has a black background with white outlines. This is probably the only downside to Hidden Folks, the longer you spend playing the more strained your eyes will get. Since I don’t have the greatest eyesight myself, I played in short bursts instead of opting for longer expeditions.
Ultimately, Hidden Folks is an absolute joy to experience. If you’ve ever messed around with a hidden objects picture book and have been craving for something similar, I can’t recommend this gem enough. While it’s better to play in short bursts due to eye strain, I’m sure other people won’t experience it as bad as I did due to my astigmatism. Being entirely built by a two man team needs some recognition. It’s quite a feat for those two to have put so much attention to detail into the game, and the craftsmanship definitely paid off. With over 900 mouth-made sound effects, it’s honestly an achievement they didn’t run out of ideas after the first hundred. If you’re looking for a relaxing and easy to pick up and put down game, Hidden Folks definitely deserves your attention.
Release Date - February 15, 2017
Special thanks to Adriaan de Jongh and Sylvain Tegroeg for providing a review code