Why Are Hidden Object Games So Underestimated?

There are possibly many gamers like me who feel nostalgic when playing old hidden object games. It was so entertaining and thrilling to seek a purple ribbon or a pen within a scene in an old hotel, wasn’t it? Or it could be an old creepy hospital or any other deeply unsettling environment where you can lose yourself and escape from your daily routine. Aside from the mysterious puzzles and hidden object tasks, such games always have an intriguing narrative. They revolve around solving creepy crime cases or unraveling dark mysteries. Protagonists in hidden object puzzle adventure games (or HOPA games) usually get into accidents (car crashes, plane crashes). After a collision, the storyline takes a gruesome turn. Then they embark on risky quests to rescue other people or their loved ones. They often have to find the truth about their mysterious past, and family secrets or solve a crime case.

The player guides the protagonist through a cursed town, creepy hotel, dark mysterious forest, or even supernatural reality. In Stray Souls: Stolen Memories from Big Fish Games the mother navigates the creepy town filled with wooden dolls. The mysterious strange town is a backdrop to almost all of the Phantasmat installments (Eipix Games, 2011-2019). It can be a ghost town with an abandoned old hotel (Phantasmat, 2011), a creepy town with a ruthless serial killer (Town Of Lost Hope, 2016), or a strange Oakville (The Dread of Oakville, 2015). Anyway, the environment reminds us of popular detective thrillers and horror stories.

As the player progresses through the hair-raising adventure, he has to solve new challenging puzzles. The player also has to complete mini-games, which reveal new clues and important hidden items. With a focus on the narrative HOPAs usually have gorgeous visuals. They stand out from other games with stunning immersive sound effects to keep the player engaged. The HOPA worlds have mysterious landscapes, scary puppets, ghosts, demons, monsters, and serial killers. HOPA games will keep you on the edge of your seat if you are into mystical or psychological thrillers with mind-bending plots. They would remind you of M. Night Shyamalan’s films (The Six Sense, The Village, The Visit), as well as films like Shutter Island, The Others, and The Orphanage. If you like the games where you have to find out what happened many years ago in a world between dream and reality, you’ll be captivated by HOPA titles.

Another great thing about HOPA I want to mention is… well, their casual simplicity. That’s why hidden object games have always been a huge trend in casual gaming. Casual gaming is gaming for casual players, it doesn’t require much cognitive energy or time investments from gamers. Casual games (puzzles, quests, hidden object games) are joyful and entertaining yet easy to pick up. Simple point-and-click mechanics make it accessible to the audience. They are perfect for pure and unpretentious recreation. Well, all the games are made for recreation but many modern video games are quite demanding. They are also easy to adapt to any device you use.

A casual player is a player who doesn’t want to settle into learning how to play too long. A full-time working busy manager who comes home and plays some simple games is a casual gamer. Simple games are casino games like Cookie Casino, puzzles, and HOPAs. You even haven’t to install them on your laptop or smartphone. His slightly bored colleague who wants to kill some time at work (well, I don’t approve of it but still!) and plays three in a row on his iPhone is a casual gamer too.

And there are possibly many gamers along the ‘hobbyist’ gamers who have ever played such simple yet fun time-killers. HOPAs have brought “time-killing” gaming” to a new level. Hidden object games not only keep players engaged to the end but also test their observational skills and intuition. At the same time, you do it casually without feeling overwhelmed or confused by their complexity. If you aren’t in the mood to search for an item or solve a puzzle, you can always change the difficulty level and puzzle your way to entertainment as you want. Playing hidden object games is a great way to improve your memory, and keep your brain engaged. At the same time, you enjoy a laid-back gaming experience and escape from everyday stress.

As of 2024, the genre of hidden object puzzle adventures is changing due to indie games. Game designers of the indie game Hidden Folks (2017) combined hidden game mechanics with interactive scenes. From simple hidden object games, HOPAs have evolved into masterpieces. Why not give good old casual games a chance then?