Wind Peaks plays hide and seek.
Hidden object games are quite prevalent these days, especially on mobile platforms and PC. Popping onto Steam means you’d be able to find countless entries into the genre, many of which look alike and follow similar themes. Wind Peaks is somewhat different visually, even if it uses mostly similar mechanics for the genre. Whilst this isn’t a genre that’s normally a go-to for me, the visual style certainly caught my attention, as did the chance to play something a bit more relaxed than my usual fare.
The story follows a group of young scouts heading to the titular Wind Peaks park for a trip, and discover some strange happenings along the way. Over the game’s one to two hour campaign, you’ll help them solve problems by finding lost objects to allow them to move on with their journey. Before long, the adventure will be over, but the final scene includes the words “Season one”, implying that there’s more to this story to come in the future.
The main story itself isn’t really the most interesting element here though. Rather, the items you find along the way that hint at other weird events going on in the area. I kept spotting giant sets of clothes on the ground, and mysterious statues that didn’t feature into the gameplay, but certainly piqued my interest in what other mysteries there were. These weren’t explored in any particular way, but it gave an element of world building that many games lack.
Each of the game’s ten-or-so levels will have you finding a variety of objects needed to solve a problem. It could be something as simple as finding clothes after someone went for a swim in a lake, or locating items to unlock a bolted shut gate that’s blocking your progress. The stages themselves look gorgeous, with an art style that’s a cross between Hilda’s muted colour palette and Scribblenauts’ animations. There’s a lot of life to them, with items that just make sense to see in a national park, whether that’s wildlife or, sadly, discarded rubbish.
Finding the required objects isn’t the easiest though, with many of them blending into the background or being partially hidden behind scenery. There’s a certain degree of logic, with fishing equipment being near a lake, or a rake being adjacent to a house. But there are often a few items that are very tricky. I spent longer than I care to admit looking for a t-shirt that was a similar colour to the ground making it very hard to spot. Perhaps this is a convention of the genre that I’m just not familiar with, but it was a touch irritating.
Thankfully, there’s a hint system that will show you roughly where an item is after a three minute wait. This confused me somewhat, as if I wanted a hint after scouring the environment, a waiting time to receive a hint seems a bit needless. I assume it’s because the developers didn’t want players to just immediately use hints to find all the items right away. There are better ways around this though, such as unlocking the ability to use hints at all after a time period, or just revealing an item after a few minutes with nothing being found.
Some of the objects can only be found after finding and using other items in the environment. I needed to find a dog, which I did, but the dog kept running away before I could press the prompt to find it. It turned out that I needed to find a bone first, which would then make the animal stay put long enough for me to acquire it. Most of the stages had a mechanic like this, which was lovely, but those mechanics would only be used once. I think the later levels would have been a bit more dynamic and less ‘more-of-the-same’ if these had been used to solve puzzles later on. Those later levels did have their own features to add a little more to them, but I’d have liked to have used techniques I’d learned previously to help me later on.
In spite of these slight setbacks, Wind Peaks was really quite endearing, helped in no small way by that gorgeous art and the lovely ambient music. It’s a nice, light experience that you can play in short bursts, and whilst I appreciate a mouse would be more suitable, the console version works well enough with a controller. I doubt this will make those who dislike hidden object games suddenly become enormous fans, but it certainly held my interest for long enough.