Please note that this game received its rating for mentions of child abuse and bloodless cartoon violence.
Last November, we looked at the prototype for Nutcase Nightmare's intriguing and sly "anti-stealth" puzzle game, which centered around guiding our heroine through a series of darkened mazes while always making sure she never roamed out of sight of the watchful eyes of the sentries. Now, Nothing to Hide is back with a demo, and some big changes. Our heroine now has a name, Poppy Gardner, and as the game begins she's running away from home. Not because the stifling security and ever-present all-seeing eyes are getting to her, but because she's worried her increasing inability to nail a smile on her face is going to hurt her father's Popularity Metrics in the upcoming un-secret ballot election. How will she handle being able to have her first ever private thought? Is she prepared to start thinking and acting for herself?
To play, use [WASD], the [arrow] keys, or click to move Poppy. The object is to get from one end of each level to the other, while always staying within the sight lines of at least one of the posted triangular security eyes. Their field of view is marked on the ground with moving horizontal lines, and eventually Poppy will be able to pick up and place them with the [spacebar] to move them around. Wander outside their view for longer than a second or two and you'll be plugged full of tranquilizer darts and sent back to try again. After all, only a criminal would ever want to be outside the view of the government at all times for any reason, right? If you have nothing to hide, why should you care if you're being watched? Creepy? Yes, and that's the point. Subtle? Not really, but it works.
The game deals with the concept of privacy, of course, and how far is too far when it comes to our increasingly claustrophobic and invasive surveillance in the US. Nothing to Hide might be perhaps an extreme representation of that, but it does illustrate how restrictive and oppressive that extreme is. Poppy is a nervous, twitching wreck from having every aspect of her life kept public, and the security system doesn't care that she's a law-abiding teenage girl... it's going to plug her full of darts like she's the biggest, meanest criminal around if she so much as puts a toe out of line, even accidentally and with no ill intent. The demo is a short eight levels, not including the opening and closing cutscenes, and does a solid job of introducing enough new elements such as the moving walkways and blue trigger eyes to keep you engaged. A few of those stages do feel extremely fiddly, however, with only a split second or hair-width for error, but if you get stuck, you can use the level select from the pause menu to skip ahead.
Nothing to Hide is also up for funding until March 12th, and with the developer considering the demo as "less than a tenth" of what the full game will be, it's got a long road ahead. The game is also open-source and un-copyrighted in a bold move to prove its title. Games that are willing to tackle serious issues are worth taking notice of, however, and with its fantastic atmosphere and unique design, Nothing to Hide's demo is definitely compelling and designed to make you think.