The hidden object genre has been going from strength to strength over the past few years. The traditional, single frame object hunts has been finding success on new platforms and a fresh version of the genre has emerged – the hide and seek, searching type. Wind Peaks, originally released in 2020 on PC but now finding a new home on the Nintendo Switch, is one of this new breed.
The premise of Wind Peaks is simple. Built of 10 levels, the aim is to explore the clustered landscapes from an over head view and find the items labelled on the list at the bottom of the screen. It’s basically an interactive, virtual version of Where’s Wally.
Much like the aforementioned book series, finding the objects you’re after can be a satisfying yet stiff challenge. Many of the pieces in Wind Peaks are hidden in fiendish places. Behind trees with just a small section popping out into view. Beneath steps that obscure a lot of the object. Some of the objects are hidden in plain sight, surrounded by a background that’s a similar colour.
What differentiates Wind Peaks from a Where’s Wally book is the interactivity. Many of the trees and bushes in this game can be rustled or parted with a click of the cursor. Many of the buildings in the game have doors and windows that can be clicked open to reveal what’s inside. While this game isn’t devilish enough to hide a lot of the items behind these areas, there are enough of them to ensure you turn every stone. Y’know. Just in case.
The interactivity in Wind Peaks sometimes evolves further than just clickable environment objects. In one level, you’re tasked with finding a monkey. Spotting the monkey’s tail poking out of a tree isn’t difficult but getting the monkey to come out of the tree is. To do so, you’ve got to find another of the hidden objects – a banana – which will entice him out of the tree.
Each of Wind Peaks’ 10 levels get’s progressively more difficult. More items are added to the shopping list and more of them require a higher level of interactivity. For example – In the last level, you’ve got to find 4 blocks that are mischievously placed around the area and then drag them back to a central location which’ll grant you a hidden item. Levels have more and more red herrings as you progress too. In one level you’re hunting for a shoe but there are lots of old boots that look very similar dotted around a forest.
Of course, anyone who’s spent longer than they’d care to admit pouring over a single page in a Where’s Wally book can attest to, getting stuck on something can be frustrating. Wind Peaks has a smart system to avoid this. Highlight your missing item in the list and click on it and a timer will start to tick down. Once that timer hits zero, an arrow will appear on the screen which will direct you to the general vicinity of your hidden object. This is a useful addition because it means that that game never becomes tedious. On the other hand, the timer means that you can’t just cheese your way through the game. This’ll keep you searching, even when you’ve got a timer ticking down and maintains the gratifying feeling of when you find an object on your own.
And finding these objects is very gratifying. It’s a deep-rooted human desire to find things that are lost and this game delivers little hits of serotonin/dopamine as you successfully check off each item from the list. It’s a simple pleasure and this game delivers that repeatedly.
I do need to mention a little hiccup with hints system however. When the missing object is hidden by an element of interactivity, like the aforementioned blocks, the guiding arrow won’t point to the steps you need to complete first. It heads straight to the actual location the item is hidden in. That doesn’t help in some instances.
The 10 levels of Wind Peaks are held together by a loose story of sorts. Told through wordless, textless comic book panes, you follow the journey of a group of Wilderness Scouts. They find a treasure map and set off to recover the treasure hidden in the Wind Peaks park. Of course there’s difficulties along the way – locked gates, burst tyres and a few supernatural goings on – and the objects you’re trying to find during play often tie into overcoming these obstacles.
The story in this game isn’t deep, overly satisfying or even well presented. It bumbles from place to place without a coherent narrative – but it doesn’t need one. It’s an inoffensive window dressing that frames the charming object hunts.
Wind Peaks is delightful to look at. With an art style akin to Gravity Falls and a colour palette to match, the visuals really pop on the Nintendo Switch screen. The amount of detail constantly astounds too. Each new level of zoom magnification brings into focus how much fine art work has gone into this game. Sure, many of the trees and bushes are replicated over and over but that doesn’t make the game any less pleasing on the eye.
It has a chilled out vibes through the audio too. Rustling leaves and nature sounds are joined by the occasional chord of music that are gentle scene setting tones.
While most of Wind Peaks is well implemented, there’s one section of the game that stands out as poorly put together. At one point in the game, you’ve got to slide stones along 3 tracks to form codes that can be found elsewhere in the level. The issue here is that the Switch controls to perform these actions are all on one side of the console/controller. The right stick moves the cursor but in order to grab the boulders, you’ve got to hold down the B button. Both actions usually require the use of the right thumb and can’t be done at the same time without another hand. I genuinely thought the game was glitching for an embarrassingly long time before I used my left hand to hold down the B button.
Wind Peakss ends abruptly too. The game is only 1.5-2 hours long, depending on your skill level, which I wouldn’t usually complain about. I’m all in favour of shorter, more concise gaming experiences but this game feels like it ends on a cliff-hanger I’m not sure is needed. I don’t want to spoil where it ends but it’s a teaser for what’s to come and a hint at a further season of the game. I’d have preferred to have the game wrapped up with an actual ending.
Despite a few issues, Wind Peaks delivers 2 hours of zen-like, chilled gratification like only a hidden object game can. Games like this aren’t traditionally ‘fun’ or engaging but they scratch an almost primordial itch to find the missing things. If you need a Switch title to fill a boring train journey, this one would fit that bill.
Wind Peaks is available now on Nintendo Switch (review plarform) and PC.
Developer: Actoon Studio
Publisher: Actoon Studio
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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