Earlier this month, while at EGX Berlin, I had the chance to try an early sample of El Hijo, a game by Honig Studios. The stealth-puzzler revolves around a 6-year old boy on a quest to escape from a monastery and make his way through the desert to reunite with his mother. Mixing stealth traversal with environmental puzzles and a fixed isometric view, El Hijo has the remarkable look of a Spaghetti-Western re-imagined by a children’s book illustrator. It caught my eye because of its unique visual style and because of the amazing slingshot pens the developer was giving away at their table. As a lifelong enthusiast of the Wild West and mischief, I am incapable of turning down a free slingshot.
In the brief thirty minutes I played, El Hijo displayed a lot of the low-stress sneaking that makes Untitled Goose Game so much fun, while the patient timing needed to progress between areas reminded me a bit of Mimimi Production’s Shadow Tactics. The story is that bandits attacked El Hijo’s mother’s farm and she brought him to the monastery to keep him safe. But now the child is on a mission to escape, primarily because he wants his slingshot, the one he was forced to bury outside before his mother left.
The portion I played was essentially a tutorial set within the monastery, with lots of shadows and lots of monks going about their monkly business. As you move closer to the exit of the first room you learn to stay out of the light where you can be spotted. If you are seen then a monk will grab your collar and take you back to a starting position, giving you the chance to sneak again.
Additional rooms taught new tricks for avoiding increasingly mobile and more numerous monks. You can hide behind curtains, in beds, and later, I was told, in baskets, bathtubs and even coffins. There’s a button to reveal view cones, showing what parts of the occupied areas are safe to slink across without being spotted, and I learned how to stick to walls, like in a cover shooter, to duck around gardening monks.
Unlike in a cover shooter, El Hijo doesn’t have combat. The character is 6-years old after all. What it has instead are hijinks. I found stones to throw to create distractions, and while I didn’t reach the slingshot I’m looking forward to finding it and exploring further when the game releases, though there isn’t currently a release date.
A stealth game with a slingshot set in the mythical American West of childhood dreams, El Hijo is bound to end up on more than a few Most Wanted lists.
You can wishlist el Hijo on Steam and it is coming soon to Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4.