Intruders: Hide and Seek Review
The output of games for the PSVR has been touch and go since it launched in 2016. A lot of experiences have been very short and arguably overpriced, while others just haven’t been particularly good. But for the handful of excellent VR games available, they have been some of my best gaming experiences to date. So despite Intruders: Hide and Seek being labelled as a stealth game (my favourite genre), I held back my excitement until I got my hands on it. But I am happy to say that Tessera Studios’ first game turned out to be one of the better titles the PSVR has to offer.
You are placed in the shoes of a young boy, Ben, who is visiting the family holiday home alongside his mum, dad and sister. His sister is of a similar age, which lends itself to the narrative. The story starts off with a series of regular family activities and uses this time to introduce the family dynamics and some of the game’s mechanics. For example, you play a game of hide and seek with your sister and it is up to you to hide from her and then sneak out of the room without her hearing or seeing you. For those who are prone to motion sickness, there are a variety of comfort options to best suit your needs. I played with click switched on because smooth turning gives me a headache. The only improvement I would make is for the click turn to cut instantly to the new position rather than move fast to it. In its current state I did get a mild headache after a few hours as there was still some turning going on visually. But as the game is only three to four hours long, you are unlikely to encounter any major issues even if you are more prone to motion sickness like me.
Things quickly turn sour as your parents are taken hostage in the middle of the night by three intruders who are now trying to find you and your sister. She stays hidden while you sneak around the house to try and get help, but in doing so you inadvertently uncover a dark secret which reveals why your parents have been tied up and locked in the basement. Don’t let the cartoonish art style fool you, this game gets darker and darker as it progresses. So much so that I couldn’t believe how horrifying it had became, especially as you’re playing as a little boy. It is to Tessera Studios’ credit that they ease you into a false sense of security, only to pull the rug from under your feet.
One of the game’s greatest strengths is its twisting story. Although overall it is fairly short, it surprised me constantly and I was left in shock by the end. I do wish that the character animations were less rigid or that their eyes would follow you when you move, but this does not detract from the storytelling and how I felt at its conclusion. The only thing that slightly held back the experience were the limitations of the hardware.The PSVR’s low resolution means in very dark areas you can see faint multicoloured pixels, which I found slightly distracting at times. And as the game is set at night and in a house with no or little light, it was hard to ignore.
When sneaking around you are able to hide in various cupboards dotted around the house. The house is quite large with three floors and various ways of getting around, so using your map you can plan your route accordingly. When you are seen or heard by one of the intruders, you do have a chance to run and hide but sometimes you cannot hide quickly enough and you get caught. Running away is intense, thanks to the sound of the intruder’s footsteps behind you and the music that is triggered when they come looking for you. But for those who have experienced Resident Evil 7 in VR, you may be slightly numb to it. There are no manual saves, but the auto-saves were frequent enough for getting caught to not be an issue. The controls are simple and mostly involve movement or pressing X to interact. I liked how you can easily go from walking at a snail's pace up to running — although running is a last resort as you will be heard.
The game can be played without VR, but considering the amount of time I spent peeking around corners and generally using my head to survey my surroundings, I would argue that experiencing it in VR is by far the best way to play. In fact, what I enjoyed most about the game was slowly approaching corners and peeking around them to make sure the coast was clear. I also enjoyed how a lot of the story was told through talking to Ben’s sister over walkie talkies. This gave Ben a reason to continue to sneak around on his own while the story develops and you uncover some horrifying truths.
By the end I was taken back by what had happened in the story, but I enjoyed sneaking around so much that I wanted to go back. You can see that Tessera Studios has put a lot of love and care into making this game. It has its own style and approach, meaning I am finding it hard to place it in a genre or compare it to anything else. This is not only a well-crafted game, but it also makes great use of virtual reality. I am surprised it is available to play without VR, but the story alone was unique and enjoyable so I am glad that those without PSVR will get a chance to play it. Apart from some stiff animations and some minor distractions due to the hardware limitations, I have nothing but good things to say.
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