Game

Search through living landscapes for quirky characters in this interactive art game

Price: $3.99 / £3.99
Version: 1.02
Size: 113 MB
Developer: Adriaan de Jongh
Platform: iPhone & iPad

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Hidden folks is a fun and original App Store hit, but you’ll need to reevaluate what a “game” is to enjoy playing it. It’s an interactive look through a series of animated illustrations; a gentle, calming experience in which it’s impossible to lose. Though it may be too sedentary for some, others will rejoice in its peaceful charms. Jigsaw puzzle fans will get a familiar kick from Hidden Folks, as it delivers the same mix of patience and satisfaction.

Players are tasked with finding a series of targets throughout a series of huge interactive landscapes. Tapping and swiping at the illustrations reveals new things to look at and new scenes to enjoy, though the interaction is light, mainly consisting of shaking trees and unzipping tents. But it’s fun to explore these worlds, uncovering little mysteries and narratives as you go. Every tap is accompanied by a joyful and often very amusing human-made sound effect, adding a thick layer of DIY charm to the experience.

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Targets give vague clues as to their location

Hidden Folks channels the detail and charm of the Where’s Waldo books; a series stuffed full of amusing social interactions and visual red herrings amongst its labyrinthine illustrations. It’s also strangely reminiscent of the intricate narrative paintings of Hieronymus Bosch – definitely a sentence we didn’t expect to be writing in an app review.

The artwork is at once childishly simple and breathtakingly detailed, and if you’re won over by these cute little figures you’ll be pleased to know the app includes a generous set of iMessage stickers you can send to your friends. It’s also compatible with the Apple TV, and the drawings look great on the big screen.

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Sometime’s it’s necessary to chop things down to find what you’re looking for…

Some levels are huge, sprawling affairs that require a lot of swiping to cover fully, while others feel more intimate, covering a small camp gathering with just a few things to find. Occasionally the gameplay is mixed up a bit with levels in which you don’t have to find anything at all, instead adjusting the environment with playful taps to help folks about their day. It’s tempting to just pepper the screen with wild taps when something is difficult to find, but to do so kind of defies the tranquil approach of the game.

The flavor text for each target is full of character, and eagle-eyed players will spot plenty of amusing goings-on as they inspect every last patch of land in these sprawling vistas. There are more than 120 targets to find across four distinct worlds, each split into several levels. That may sound like a lot, but it would be nice to have an alternate set of targets to aim for once you finish the game to add some replay value.

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The sparsely populated desert level takes a lot of scrolling to explore fully

It’s a charming game, with familiar roots offline but no real comparison on the App Store. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but those that dig the slow pace and gentle interactivity will get a lot of enjoyment from Hidden Folks. Perhaps the best thing we can say about this game is that it’s all too easy to be sucked in – load it up for a five minute search and chances are you’ll still be gleefully panning and prodding half an hour later.

Review: Hidden Folks – search intricate landscapes in this charming game
A modern twist on the Waldo formula
For
  • Amusing, detailed worlds to explore
  • Calming and satisfying
  • Cute artwork and sound effects
Against
  • May be too slow-paced for some
  • Fairly short, lacks replay value
4.0Overall Score