Point-and-click adventures are 100% my jam. Combining innovative story telling with puzzling gameplay is the surest way to my heart, and yet Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients offered me a unique style of gameplay I hadn’t encountered before. I was impressed and intrigued by the idea of a first-person, horror point-and-click and I can’t say I was disappointed by what I was offered.
Horror blends surprisingly well with point-and-click, as the exploratory nature of the genre lends itself to immersive gameplay—as shown with The Charnel House Trilogy. When you add first person perspective into the mix, you find yourself with the complete package. The music and sounds compliment the feelings of tension and anxiety perfectly working to set your teeth on edge, and the voice acting definitely has its merits. The graphics are nothing spectacular but show a high level of polish for an indie low budget project.
As for the puzzles, I should note that I enjoy my point-and-clicks more on the Broken Age level of difficulty. Personally, I found the puzzles to be on the more difficult end of what I enjoy. The puzzles were logical, but with such a large map to explore, procuring all the relevant items was sometimes an issue. There is a hint system, but I’ll be honest in that I found it less than useless. Only on a few occasions did I feel a genius for completing a tricky puzzle, but that wasn’t so much because the puzzles were easy to solve but because I found the atmosphere so frightening I was too busy crapping myself in fear.
The story is your basic “paranormal investigator gets mixed up in paranormal activity while investigating the paranormal” plot, but really excels in the “show don’t tell” school of thought. Dialogue and character interaction is kept sparse, and the real story is told by interacting with and exploring the world around you. It’s short at around 4-5 hours and feels unfinished, because it is. The second half, The Untold, is supposedly still in development, and I hope it builds further on the excellent atmosphere the first part has already established.
All my complaints about Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients are mostly nitpicks in what is a mostly solid and worthwhile game. It’s too dark, in the literal sense that half the time I can’t tell what is going on. I think the title is not great. In the first area I spent about 20 minutes looking for the exit after I had done everything because it wasn’t obvious. Movement between screens and menus is unnatural and annoying at times. For example, items cannot be combined in the inventory but rather have to be placed down to be put together. I assume this is to be more realistic, which I get, but just serves as a minor annoyance.
My main niggle is the cliché of the story. The atmosphere is perfection. The horror so perfectly set that I found myself refusing to re-enter a room I knew I still had business in, but the actual story is lacking. It’s okay for a start, but in games I tend to favor the logically explained and Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients is crying out for a The Vanishing of Ethan Carter style twist to elevate it into excellence.
Overall, Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients is a good purchase for fans of horror or point-and-click games, but a must buy for fans of both. The small downsides are completely overwhelmed by the outstanding atmosphere and I eagerly await the second half.
My copy for review was provided courtesy of the developer you can purchase yours on Steam.
Overall, Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients is a good purchase for fans of horror or point-and-click games, but a must buy for fans of both.