Friday 15 December 2017

Games: A digital Where's Wally come to life

Hidden Folks (iOS/PC), 4 Stars, Age: 7+

Hidden Folks
Hidden Folks
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

If you've whiled away many an idle hour on the eye-wateringly detailed tableaux of Where's Wally, then Hidden Folks could be your new favourite jam. To describe it as a hidden-object game would be grossly underselling its appeal.

Hidden Folks presents you with a series of fiercely packed scenes, ranging from a camping ground to a jungle forest, some small, others several screens wide and tall.

You might need to find a dozen characters, for instance, or trigger a sequence of events. So you tap, push, prod and pull at the screen as you nose around, with almost every click producing an amusing sound effect or animation.

Aesthetically stark in monochrome, Hidden Folks nonetheless conceals a wealth of humour, creativity and passion behind its sharply-drawn lines.

 

Halo Wars 2

(XO/PC), 4 Stars, Age: 15+

Eight years after the original's modest success, Microsoft expands the Halo universe again with another slice of real-time strategy, a genre almost unknown on consoles. Developed by RTS specialist Creative Assembly (of Total War fame), HW2 introduces Atriox, a charismatic but chilling new villain intent on a reign of terror in the humans-vs-aliens saga.

So the scene is set for a Starcraft-style series of top-down battles in which a plucky, outnumbered crew of marines skirmish with Atriox's horde.

HW2 features the usual RTS/Starcraft tropes - resource-collecting, base-building and massing enough troops to overcome the enemy. But it distinguishes itself on Xbox with its streamlined control system for selecting and directing your army - always a problem in the absence of the efficient mouse/keyboard combo familiar to PC players.

Glossy production values in the cut-scenes and a broad range of combat scenarios in multiplayer enhance the package but it's only the novel Blitz mode that attempts something different. Melding deathmatch with a Hearthstone-esque card game, Blitz eschews base-building for troop units selected from a deck of cards. Fun, fast and frantic, it's a welcome diversion.

PC fans may find HW2 a little shallow in the shadow of other RTS classics such as Starcraft but Xbox owners should relish an opportunity to chew on a rare type of challenge.

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