All right class. Everyone take a seat on your meditation mats. Take a deep breath, and exhale. Good. Now, everyone in the lotus position. Excellent. Now, close your eyes, and envision your perfect gaming atmosphere. Something quiet, serene, free of the everyday problems of the real world. Do you see it? Does it look something like Pure Hidden? Then you are on the path to Nirvana. Good luck.
Pure Hidden is designed to be a hidden object game unlike any other. There is no story, no mystery to solve, no thinly-veiled plot designed to accommodate the endless locating of things that have nothing to do with the story, much less the surroundings. Pure Hidden takes a very zen-like approach to the hidden object genre. The games exist to be played, not to serve any external plot or characters. It makes the entire process of playing a relaxing, soothing experience.
You start out at the game tree, a large, leafy, vine-like plant that twists and turns about the screen. As the game progresses it sprouts leaves which slowly turn into blossoms. Blossoms "ripen" and produce games, the most prevalent of which is, of course, is the hidden object level. Locate the objects in the scene from the laundry list below. As you find items they drop off the list and new ones are added. You can't actually select an item unless it's showing in the list, and it's a good idea to remember where you found an item, as you'll likely be asked to find the same object later on. Collect all of the items or locate a purple list item to complete the round.
These seemingly random objects — rubber ducks, action figures, umbrellas — all relate (tangentially) to the next round. When you return to the game tree you'll notice one of the blossoms has turned into a game box. These boxes are filled with games to play, puzzles to solve, and toys to mess around with, such as popping bubbles to keep the on-screen music playing.
Analysis: Whoever thought up the idea for Pure Hidden was something of a genius, in my estimation. The hidden object genre has quickly become flooded with endless iterations of the same game. Whether they are mysteries that must be solved, or stories that are played through in a linear fashion, loosely tying the hidden object scenes together, eventually they all seem the same. Even when you are able to find the next Mystery Case Files from the hordes of wanna-bes, it's still a bit stale. It takes a truly well-designed game to stand out from the bunch, and Pure Hidden does that very well.
I love the fact that OUAT Entertainment has chosen something so organic as a plant to tie the game together. It doesn't seem like a gimmick to get around the lack of a plot, story, or characters. It's a plant that offers up games instead of apples or grapes. How cool is that? I want one for my yard!
The backgrounds for each of the hidden object games also play a part in making the entire process seem less of an oddity. The fact that there is more artistry than reality in each of the scenes makes finding a life preserver in an outdoor street cafe more of a silly game and less of a jarring break from real life. The backgrounds also become a thing of art themselves, for when you successfully finish each of the hidden object rounds, the background images become wallpapers that you can use on your computer, thus giving you more of a tangible prize for winning each round than a simple "Good Job!"
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Of course, for the more competitive souls out there, there is a scored mode that you can play the game in instead of the more laid-back "zen" mode. In the scored mode, you will play against the clock to finish each of the games. The quicker you are, and the fewer hints you use, the greater your score will be. I, myself, prefer the simple serenity of the zen game, though. You still get to see how long it takes you to complete each game, but it really doesn't matter in the long run, does it? So long as you finish at some point. It's all just there, man.
This is one of those genre-busting games that developers need to take a serious look at. Pure Hidden has made the hidden object game fun for this reviewer again, and I believe that, with a little calm meditation and maybe a friendship rock or two, it will do the same for you.