Game for the weekend: Hidden Folks

This delightful new PC and iOS game is well recommended for anyone who lost hours to 'Where's Wally' as a kid...

Game for the weekend: Hidden Folks

Hidden Folks by Adriaan de Jongh & Sylvain Tegroeg

For many who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s, there was nothing quite like sitting down with a large, colourful book and trying to find Wally.

Martin Handford's Where's Wally? (or, as sacrilegiously renamed for the US market, Where's Waldo?) was a simple idea brilliantly executed. Every two page spread in each of the series' books features detailed illustrations of chaotic scenes and a plethora of little secrets.

The main goal was always easy in theory but often surprisingly engrossing in practice - find Wally and each of his companions. The popular appeal was undeniable. Tens of millions of sales, a TV series and countless Halloween costumes later, the series has become deeply embedded in the cultural consciousness of several generations.

There have been several video games based on the series, and indeed the core appeal of Wally is similar to some common ideas & tropes in gaming - whether that's the continued prevalence of hidden 'collectibles' in many games, or the captivating draw of a point-and-click game (and the genre's modern variants).

The creators of the new iOS (Android is set to follow) and PC game Hidden Folks have insisted Wally was not one of their main inspirations. But the delightful game will likely be of major appeal to anybody - young or otherwise - who ever lost hours scanning Where's Wally? scenes.

Presented through simple yet gorgeous monochrome art from illustrator Sylvain Tegroeg, Adriaan de Jongh's game offers players a series of lovingly animated scenes to poke at in order to find a set of hidden characters. The bizarre "mouth-originated sound effects" add an extra layer of character to a game that's already assuredly its own thing. 

How does it work in practice? An early jungle scene has players scanning a jungle for such disparate characters as a 'king' monkey, a man in peril, and an amused lizard. While the game does allow you to move on without finding every 'objective', the search can be more challenging than it initially seems - in that same jungle level, for example, a particular chicken remained maddeningly elusive for this player.

What makes the game fresh & novel is its interactivity. Tap (or click, if you're on PC) a tree and it will shake. Tap a jungle plant and an invisible machete will cut through it. Tap a guitar player and - well you can probably guess the rest of that one. You are, of course, allowed to zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out for a more general view of the unfolding madness.

The result is a game full of life, each scene full of little stories and hidden gags. Alongside the big crowd scenes, de Jongh breaks up the pace with a series of vignettes with their own twists and ideas. One interval, for example, tasks you with clearing the path for one of the 'folks' out for a walk.

With a low cost of entry and a promise of more levels and features to come, Hidden Folks is well worth your time.

Now... where's that cursed chicken?