The hidden object genre is one that’s cornered by the likes of Artifex Mundi, with them launching numerous fairly decent titles in this year alone. There’s been Ghost Files: Memory of a Crime, Scarlett Mysteries: Cursed Child and The Secret Order: Shadow Breach, to name just a few. Hence, it’s refreshing to see another developer give it a go, which is the case with Six Dots and their debut offering of My Hidden Things on Xbox. Will we seek out a worthy alternative here, or are some games simply best left hidden from view?
In many ways, My Hidden Things is very different to the aforementioned games and while that works in its favour, there isn’t much to rave about. It does what it does well though and could viably be a cheap option to consider.
It’s worth pointing out that My Hidden Things is a cross between a hidden object puzzler and a visual novel. Focusing on the latter first, you’ll get introduced to the enigmatic Xary, who requests your help to aid several people achieve their dreams. Through the use of minimalistic black and white comic book style screens prior to each section of gameplay, the stories are drip fed. Slowly, but surely, a picture of the people’s lives and their struggles are created within your mind.
Among the most intriguing characters are Ophelia, a young woman suffering from domestic abuse, looking for a way out; a chap named Nick, who’s lost without his best friend Toby; Little Mia, a child unable to grasp the fact that her father is gravely ill; and Maria, a promising actress that’s willing to do anything to attain a starring role. These are all short, sharp pieces of narrative which, as you can tell, cover a variety of topics. Although they aren’t exactly gripping or exciting, they’re realistic, often dark by their very nature and some are uplifting – there are even tales that are intertwined. What’s quite clever is how the tale and tone affects the hidden object activities in a bid to tie the two together.
The hidden object scenes are simple enough on paper, with a list of items to find in each, accompanied by their silhouettes. To make matters trickier, you must sift through the numerous objects on-screen and move them around in order to locate two pieces that fit together to form what’s required. It’s very unorthodox though, because a ball might be composed of a half-moon shape and half of a crab’s body, or a bike made up of a pair of spectacles and a carrot. Despite the silhouettes offering a rough idea shape-wise, the solutions are totally obscure and most of the time you’ll figure it out by chance more than any detective instincts.
Given that some of the ready-made objects have to be deconstructed for parts, it’s also a bit of a pain in regards to the cursor not detecting when it’s in contact with such things. For example, clicking on and moving a jacket could see it move as a whole entity, or a piece of the item could detach itself instead. Temperamental is the best way to describe these occurrences, although they don’t happen frequently enough to be majorly detrimental.
As mentioned previously, the narrative is often reflected in the design of the hidden object scenes and it works to great effect. A swift tale involving a hitchhiker leads to an array of creepy and sinister objects, while another character’s narrative sequence produces a scene featuring an interesting light and dark cycle. The fascinating aspect of the animated cycle is that it unveils the person in shackles, suggesting they are in a predicament they cannot escape from. It’s really well done in that sense and helps to convey the little stories that are being told.
In terms of visuals, there’s a basic black and white colour palette used throughout, but that doesn’t prevent detailed artwork from being produced. The scenes and comic book storytelling sections are more than detailed enough to present recognisable, and sometimes bizarre interpretations, of everyday items. Simple, but effective, which is also how the backing soundtrack comes across as the melodic piano sounds attempt to create a relaxing setting for proceedings.
Overall though, My Hidden Things on Xbox is a decent little hidden object game that’s minimalistic in style and gritty in regards to the storytelling within. It’s a cheap way to spend a couple of hours as you search through more than 25 well designed scenes and hunt for cleverly concealed items. The problem is, it’s often too clever for its own good and, when combined with the occasionally unreliable cursor, manages to create the odd moment of frustration in an otherwise relaxing experience. Still, the low price means that you can probably overlook these indiscretions and give My Hidden Things a chance.