Rite of Passage: Hide and Seek
If there's one thing you should know to be true, it's that letters from dead people are rarely a good sign. Shortly after your mother's death, you discover a letter from your father in her mailbox, even though she told you he died long ago along with your brother. I'm not saying you shouldn't care about your family, just that maybe having a magical glowing scar you don't remember getting and some stringy-haired Samara wannabe show up in your backseat might be evidence that you're in over your head beyond a deadbeat dad. In Mad Head Games' hidden-object adventure Rite of Passage: Hide and Seek, no ominous omens or freaky foreshadowing will stop you from returning to Greystone, the town you barely remember growing up in, where your brother and many other children were "taken by the fog" over twenty years ago. As you search the town for clues to the disappearances, you'll discover powers you never knew you had, and even change the outcome of the story based on how you interact with people... ish. A gorgeous game with an intriguing story and a few twists that liven up familiar mechanics, Rite of Passage: Hide and Seek mixes chills with fairytale fantasy for a compelling and entertaining game that will make the time fly like few others.
Hide and Seek has the usual gameplay you've come to expect from a genre... root through random piles of junk to find the items you need to solve puzzles while you explore. What's nice is that it livens things up a bit by continually changing the gameplay... in small ways, to be sure, but those little changes keep everything from feeling repetitive. Hidden-object scenes usually have several different modes of play, puzzles are widely varied and even a little challenging, you'll gain powers to overcome obstacles... and because Game of Thrones is a thing, you'll even get your very own little wolf pup who you can use to accomplish tasks for you. While the morality options are a nice thought, because the choices are always so cut and dry between Paragon and Jerkwad, they wind up feeling tacked on in a way that they might not have had they been a bit muddier in their delivery, or even made you feel any sort of conflict at all as to which choice was the right one. You never really feel like you're doing good so much as you are not flying off the handle at people, and even some of the "bad" choices aren't bad, objectively speaking. Why is it a hit to your karma to freak out rather than simper when you discover your father has been alive for over two decades, right after the death of your mother, especially after you've been attacked by magic fog and creepy ghost kids? Don't you think you're owed a little Kermit-flail in that scenario? We're not made of stone, people.
The story is surprisingly compelling and captivating right off the bat, and only gets more interesting as time goes on. It's nice to see a game try to add a bit more depth and complexity to its "villains", and Hide and Seek makes an attempt to get you to understand the motives behind virtually everyone in the cast. It pulls you in with its lush, detailed environments, and makes you feel like a part of the cutscenes rather than just a passive observer. You'll actually travel to a lot of different locations, even winding up with different maps, and while you'll do a fair amount of backtracking in each place, the changing scenery and the new characters you'll meet keep you hooked. At the same time, however, it's worth noting that regardless of the difficulty setting, most players will fly through the game at a fast pace, and an average play time, not including the bonus content, will probably clock in around four hours depending on how liberally you use any hint or skip functions. But take it as a mark in Hide and Seek's favor that it's going to feel even shorter than it is simply because of how well it pulls you into its story and setting, thanks in no small part to one of the best presentations you could hope to find in a casual game. Try the demo before you buy, but Rite of Passage: Hide of Seek is an imaginative cinematic casual game that's more than just a pretty face.
Note: Currently, only the Collector's Edition is available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.