Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients
If you have read any of my
reviews you will know that solitary first person exploration games are
my preferred type when it comes to adventures. They still need to be
engaging and worth playing, but they probably get a small leg up to
begin with, at least until I start playing.
Hidden is one such game.
You play Thomas Farrell, an
archaeologist in Buenos Aires in 1934, who is on the trail of an
expedition into the Patagonian forests, searching of evidence of an
ancient civilisation. We start in an old boarding house, where a
colleague of his Uncle Eneko has apparently uncovered some key material.
From there itís into the woods themselves, and then to, well, somewhere
Billed as point and click horror
inspired by writers such as Algernon Blackwood and H. P. Lovecraft,
Hidden certainly gave me a jump or two, without being terribly horrific.
In that regard the inspiration is probably apt. It did a good job of
creating an unsettling environment at the appropriate times, with
strained breathing and the occasional freaky vision adding to the mix.
It is almost completely point
and click, relying on the keyboard only for pulling up your goals and
accessing the menu, and utilising point to point locomotion with the
mouse rather than being able to move wherever you want with the WASD
keys. I prefer the open movement but I know many players are greater
fans of this type of locomotion, and for me itís a small thing. You have
free panning from each point, so in that respect exploration isnít
hampered. I would though recommend selecting the smooth camera option
from the options menu, which removes the jerkiness from the panning. Why
it isnít the default I canít imagine, as it is much the better option.
Hotspots are generous although
some are very close together, so you might miss a critical item if you
donít explore meticulously. You canít reveal them, but I never like to
do that anyway. Inventory items are plentiful, but once you leave for
the forest your inventory resets except for one or two objects (one of
which was a drawing I didnít use, and which seemed completely
superfluous in every respect given I had a photo of said drawing). I
also didnít use everything in the second part of the game, although some
items were clearly red herrings in terms of one solution.
There are also lots of things to
open and poke around in that are simply that. So too you can look at
things that might or might not be important. Just because you canít take
something with you, donít assume it isnít important.
If you are particularly diligent
in your exploration, you will uncover a number of ďfindingsĒ. These
arenít necessary to complete the game, but purport to add some detail
and background to items or events. They are accessed from the menu
screen when found, and there are four in the boarding house and two in
the forest. I found half of each, so I clearly have work to do. I
confess I donít think they added much at all, but I was pleased I found
what I did. Should you be determined to find them all, itís a nice touch
that Thomas will muse before he leaves both the boarding house and the
forest that if he has missed anything he wonít be able to come back for
Veterans and novices alike will
easily settle into the gameplay, as it is straightforward and simple.
Cursors will be activated by the hotspots and will tell you can do or
look at something, and selecting an inventory item will allow it to be
ďusedĒ at your present location. You do have to select it again if you
want to try it somewhere else (so you donít permanently have it in your
hand so to speak), and there were times when I found that a little
irritating. I also would have liked to able to, for instance, close a
draw I had opened, rather than having to click the icon bottom of screen
to ďback outĒ of that interaction, as it made the action seem less
The game looks great, richly
detailed in its design, and as such the virtually static nature of each
screen is not a detriment. Some small animations accompany some
exploration and puzzle interactions, and some cutscenes occur at
particular points. The score and soundscape is fine, and I always like
it when you can adjust the volume of each independently at the options
screen, which is the case here.
Puzzling involves finding and
using the correct items, and some out and out puzzles. How to use items
will often be predicated on finding and understanding the clues, which
limits trial and error to some extent. The solutions are also largely
organic, in that they make sense within the game, even if a couple are a
little too fiddly. The straight out puzzles will again by solved by
finding, and in one particular puzzle recognising, the relevant clue.
While there was the odd slightly opaque solve, by and large I thought
the puzzles did a fine job of challenging and engaging me, while at the
same time getting the balance right between progression and road blocks.
I include in that the final maze-ish puzzle, which, when I stopped and
paid attention, I was able to work my way through.
In that regard, should it be
necessary there is a question mark alongside each goal which will give a
clue about that particular objective. You will get a notification top
left of screen when you have a new goal, and they will be marked
completed once that has been achieved. The goals are largely
self-evident from the progression, but it is useful that they are kept
account of, especially if there is a gap in your playtime.
I said it was solitary, but
there are two characters you spend some time conversing with. There is
another who seems intent on ripping you to shreds if it gets in the
door, so best hope you can prevent that.
You can save at will, and you
get more than one slot so you can go back and start from wherever you
want or replay bits should you be so minded. It did end a bit abruptly,
and mid-stream, so I can only assume that the project on the website
called Hidden: Untold will be a continuation. If not, while what went
before was rather satisfying, the end will ultimately be a
Despite what I just said, Hidden
is a very solid piece of adventuring. I look forward to what I hope will
be an equally satisfying conclusion.
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD Radeon
HD 7800 2048MB
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