games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Hidden Object Games

May 16, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I’m here to talk about Hidden Object Games, or “HOGs” in the vernacular. I love Hidden Object Games actually, I find them usually relaxing and enjoy the predictable nature of them. 95% of them usually involve either chasing a killer, or rescuing your (usually) daughter from a kidnapper, either a cult figure, or some supernatural force. Also, 99% of these games are made in Poland, or somewhere in either Eastern Europe or Russia, and a lot of them have Kristin Price as the voice actress of the main character. For a few of my picks, I picked franchises, rather than singular games, because the games are so similar to one another. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Elizabeth Find M.D. – Diagnosis Mystery – Season 2

I honestly don’t know the quality of the first Elizabeth Find game, since it’s not on PC. This game though is, and it falls into the “decent” category. You have to solve three cases while in a hospital setting, which is a nice hook. The issue comes up with the puzzles repeating themselves, even though the game length is already pretty shirt. Still, if you can ignore this, it’s a decent HOG.

#7: Space Legends: At the Edge of the Universe

I don’t think Space Legends is a particularly “great” game, but I do admire it for not being in the typical setting that most HOG’s are in. As opposed to the real world, or more usually, a fantasy setting, Space Legends takes place in a sci-fi setting on a space colony. As such, instead of stuff like “Find the magic key”, it is things like “Find the medpack to heal this guy”. Also, the art in Space Legends is actually pretty good, and more imaginative than most HOG’s out there.

#6: Time Mysteries

There are three Time Mysteries games, so I’m kind of lumping them all together. In these games, you travel between different eras as you try to stop an evil force from conquering the world and time itself. If I had to pick, I remember the third one the most, since I believe you start off in the future and have to find your way back to the nexus of time. But, all of them are good titles, and they form a cohesive narrative in the end.

#5: Nightmares from the Deep

The same goes for the Nightmares from the Deep series, which also has three games in its narrative. I think Deep has better music, art, and production design than Time Mysteries though. Oddly, these games are also on the Xbox One, which is either a cool thing that the XB1 is getting HOG, or else a desperate sign that nothing big is coming to the XB1. I don’t remember much of the plots from the second and third games, but the first one fits right into the mold of “daughter is kidnapped and you have to go rescue her”.

#4: Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can

Angelica Weaver has way more production design than most hidden object games, with some great CGI cutscenes, mostly voiced text, and a good mix of modern and historical sequences. However, some of the physics-based puzzles are annoying and the shoeprint puzzle about 1/3rd through the game is quite maddening. The Steam version also includes a few screensavers and the strategy guide, which is pretty handy. Angelica Weaver is one of the first HOG’s I got into, so it has a special place in my heart.

#3: Mystery Tales: Alaskan Wild

Alaskan Wild isn’t a game you can find on Steam, and it’s a shame. It looks great, first of all, and the mix of winter and Native American iconography. A lot of the game looks like it takes place during Christmas, but it’s not. Also, it has some really good puzzle design for a HOG, and things flow well together. It’s a shame this game isn’t on Steam because more people should play it.

#2: 9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek

Serpent Creek isn’t the deepest or most challenging HOG in the world, but I found it oddly really well put together. Too often, hidden object games have really arcane logic, and that doesn’t really happen here. The story is painfully obvious, guess what, the snake-looking guy is secretly evil, but the actual gameplay is rock solid. After I finished playing it, I had every achievement, except for one, which was to pet the cat before you move on with the game.

#1: Adera

Finally, there is Adera, which dwarfs other hidden object games, by a pretty big margin. The production design is astounding, primarily because they actually have a budget, since Microsoft published this game. Also, I think this is the only game on this list that was actually developed in the US, and not Poland, or somewhere in Eastern Europe, although don’t quote me on that. The main character is voice acted by Ali Hillis (Liara from Mass Effect), so she actually great, compared to most non-union voice acting for these games. Also, Adera is actually a pretty lengthy game, for the genre due to multiple episodes. Most HOG’s are between 3 and 5 hours, depending on the challenge. Adera’s episodes can be usually completed in 1 or 2 hours, but because there is 5 of them, it has a longer runtime than other games in the genre. Adera is the big reason I got into hidden object games in the first place, and it is a shame that Adera didn’t do financially well enough to get another season. Also, it only being on the Windows 8/10 store front is a travesty.

For comments, list which hidden object games you enjoy.

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Top 8 Overhyped Video Games

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison