In between University and the very very infrequent bit of paid work, wasting time on FB and generally just procrastinating, I have a hobby, that hobby is playing Hidden Object Games (henceforth known as HOGs) the main source of my crack is http://www.bigfishgames.com
I love this site because you can download 1 hr demos of the games to let you see if you want to cough up the full amount, and if you belong to their club then you can get the full games for $9.99 which is a very reasonable amount especially for a game which you can replay time after time.
I have decided to do reviews of the HOGs that I have completed, these won’t be ones with walk-throughs and cheats/hints as most HOGs have walk-throughs and hints within the game, this will be a review about things like:-
- ease of mini games
- overall feel
Some HOGs look very very pretty, but that prettiness is marred by a gameplay that is so complicated or boring that after a few chapters you feel like you just can’t be bothered to even keep on playing, sadly one such game like that was one I recently played, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of OZ.
This would you think be an eminently suitable subject for a game, I mean we all know the story, so progressing through it would be easy, sadly no, this game was let down by two big things, the use of exceedingly small hidden objects within a vast overall picture and slow and clumsy game play.
Some HOGs have great main game playability, but are let down by their mini games; especially when you have to pass the mini game to collect a reward or a tool, if I find that I have to keep on using the SKIP button just to progress through the mini games, then that is also a negative factor. Worse still are the mini games that have NO skip button, and are so complicated that I feel like I am sitting an exam for entrance into Mensa, where I am required to indulge in some existential lateral thinking to solve the puzzle.
Now I fully admit that I am rather bad at some forms of mini games, ones where you have to shift the blocks around to make a picture, I have never been able to do those and I have no problem with using the SKIP button on those types, but when I find myself reaching for the SKIP button on every single mini game, then I know it’s not me that is the problem, but a game designer who thinks he/she is being very clever.
Thankfully those types of HOGs are very few and far between and they don’t last long in my games collection, the overall feel of the HOG is very important, are the games designers treating you like an idiot, is the game and the mini games so ludicrously easy that you can whiz through it in a couple of hours, there is no satisfaction in playing a game that treats you like a small child.
The other important thing is content, a lot of HOGs come from Europe and in particular countries from the former USSR, these HOGs tend to be a bit more visceral in content, and employ subject matter that is definitely NOT for everyone.
Two that spring to mind are Redrum: Dead Diary and Redrum: Time Lies, both of these are set within the confines of an Insane Asylum, with a very nasty protagonist who conducts horrible experiments on the inmates. So some of the pictures and mini games are rather disturbing, so those two games I would NOT recommend to someone who is just starting out with HOGs.
Some HOGs have components that involve a lot of backtracking, and completing assignments that have no value until much later into the game and to a newcomer this can be very off-putting, two of the most acclaimed and popular HOGs of late have done that, Return to Ravenhearst and Puppetville: Souls of The Innocents. These are both excellent games and among my very all time favourites, however I would hesitate in recommending them as the first HOG that
I think the sheer complexity would put a lot of people off and make them think that all HOGs were like this, which is definitely not true, so I shall also be rating games based on whether they are beginner, medium or expert level.
I am in the middle of playing a HOG right now; Ancient Adventures: Gift of Zeus and I shall review it when I am finished, so I shall type at you then.