I have fond recollections of tracking Waldo through history, then poring back over each scene in search of arrows to the bum, derpface pirate flags, and birds bombing conquistadors with poop. From images and impressions, this hand-drawn Find the Stuff collaboration between game designer Adriaan de Jongh and artist Sylvain Tegroeg seemed right up that alley.
Best $4 I’ve spent in recent memory for an itch I hadn’t scratched in years.
Hidden Folks is absurdly adorable and lovingly crafted. Each stage is packed with detailed vignettes in constant gentle motion, inviting you to poke and prod and slide obstacles out of the way. You are rewarded with a gleeful variety of spoken beeps and percussion and chatter from humans and animals and other creatures, with satisfying force feedback when you find a target. It’s as if an artist gave voice to a flip book which somehow became interactive.
The game’s learning curve is intelligent and encouraging. Standalone vignettes introduce you to new methods of interaction, and stages increase in size as you progress. Elegant, economical hints imply the context to look for and any action to be taken with it. Thanks to said context, pixel hunting is minimal. You generally browse around at a higher level and then zoom in for a deeper examination of whatever seems to fit the clue. Even in the largest, densest scenes, Hidden Folks gently guided me without wasting my time with busy work. Fitting the theme of player respect, you don’t need to find every target in a scene to see the next. I enjoyed jumping ahead to something new and then coming back with fresh eyes for completion’s sake.
I also enjoyed poking around just because. Half the fun of Hidden Folks is getting distracted by its random amusement – high rise chickens, tribal target practice, a picnic atop a double decker bus. I never felt hopelessly lost, even in the desert, whose subtle paths and signs guided me right back to the Burning Folks festival – complete with its eponymous wicker statue – to complete my checklist.
Hidden Folks lasted me a leisurely few hours, which was more than fair for its price. Even better, its developers are adding more levels soon. I can’t wait to delve back into this brilliant black and white world.