Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients is a point and click adventure game with horror elements from developers Lost Spell that was originally released on August 5th, 2015. Hidden hearkens back to the mid-nineties point and click game PC explosion and delivers all the same thrills, chills, and mystery exploration as some of it’s more classic genre brethren while being wrapped in a much more updated package with beautifully artistic cutscenes, superb in-game graphics, excellent sound and music choices, and a simple yet stable game design to keep you entranced in the story without fidgeting with control settings. If you’re looking for a scary game with an intricate yet intriguing storyline to curl up with on a dark and stormy night look no further than Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients.
Hidden will become an instant favorite for any fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s Ancient monster gods. Much of the game plays as if you were sitting in an 19th century study reading one of the classic horror writer’s works, which is one of the most loving testaments possible to this game. The author’s signature mood of impending doom encroaches slowly around you and grows as the gameplay deepens, and more devoted Lovecraft fans may be able to pick out some of his most famous creations throughout the story. Let’s take an in-depth look at all the elements that make Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients a must play horror game title, below, in our expansive game review.
The Adventure begins in a small Buenos Aires boarding house in 1936. You play as Thomas Ferrell and you’re attempting to locate the research of Adriano Scopelli, who claimed to have discovered a “certain item” that will prove to be detrimental to the work of your uncle Eneko, a friend of Scopelli’s, who has been searching the forests of Patagonia in South America in hopes of finding the remnants of an aboriginal city that is said to predate known history. Upon arriving it was discovered that the police have boarded off Scopelli’s room until a further investigation can be done following his death a month before. Through making friends with the old proprietor of the boarding house and solving puzzles, access is gained to the dead man’s room and more and more of Scopelli’s research is accessible. Slowly you begin to realize through locating Scopelli’s rambling journal entries, maddening chalk board scribbles, and finally discovering a grotesque ritual performed in sacrifice to his “certain item”, that the path of his investigations, the same path you now follow, very likely drove the man over the edge.
In doing your own investigation of the scene you take photos of the cryptic symbols that paint the chalkboard, as well as of the arcane bust that it seems Scopelli had begun to worship in the days leading to his death, and a rubbing of the circular design the man reported from his visions. After finding a strange blue stone in a trap door at the boarding house you suffer from the same type of vision that your uncle’s colleague describes in his journal. In this vision you find yourself in a hazy realm of black skies cut across with the occasional lightening strike. A stone staircase leads you to a dark arched entrance.
Upon waking you decide you have enough information to join uncle Eneko’s expedition in the jungles but by the time you reach the Patagonia base camp, night has fallen, everything is too quiet, and you find it deserted. Bullet shells litter the ground outside and blood splatters adorn the walls, books, and shelves. During the intense peak of the story’s action you will come face to face with the horrific mysteries of the South American jungle and perhaps another dark dimension all together.
Hidden: Trail of the Ancients keeps you guessing at every turn and wondering just what will happen next and how you will survive the onslaught of primal horror that waits as you uncover each new mystery. Narrative twists and turns keep you engaged while familiar characters, tropes, and legends for Lovecraft aficionados layer the game with recognizable foundations. Trial of the Ancients engrossing story allows you to become a part of the world of one of horror fiction’s most prolific names all while keeping your sanity in the process, for the most part anyway.
For a complete and expansive walkthrough visit tr1ppa on Youtube for a four part breakdown of the full story and gameplay of Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients.
Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients plays much like the classic genre predecessors to this adventure game. Movement and exploration is accomplished through mouse clicks just like any other point and click adventure and to interact with objects you must hover your cursor over the desired effect and click the access point. What separates Hidden from other games of its type is the ability to move the camera 360 degrees and look in any direction without clicking. This allows you to take in the full panoramic view of each area you come across during your adventure and to identify and access objects or areas of interest more easily.
The game’s dark atmosphere and intense visuals keep each level exciting while the various puzzles and exploration choices will challenge your sense of strategy and just how you choose to operate throughout the game. The requisition of more clues, evidence, and items leads you further along in unearthing the truth behind the mystery while keeping enough of the enigma alive to continually raise new questions as to just what is happening in the haunted forests of Patagonia. On the Trail of the Ancients does a phenomenal job of bringing together story elements with player decisions for rewarding and stimulating gameplay.
Though working thorough puzzles and finding items to put to use in access areas is the majority of Hidden’s motif, there are some adrenaline pumping moments in its later half that feel more akin to playing a survival horror game than a point and click game. The ominous vibe and lateral puzzle solving intermingled with intense action sequences and terrifying chases balance out the game to allow for a harrowing expedition into the jungles without any aspect of gameplay becoming too much. Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients feels nostalgically like sitting down to your computer sometime in the summer of ’99 to play the latest point and click adventure game while also providing the player with the role of actively taking part in a Lovecraft mystery horror.
The Art, Graphics, and Visual Style
The art, graphics, and overall visual style of On the Trail of the Ancients is one of the many ways the developer’s use to convey the sense of dread and apprehension that evolves as the game continues. More so than many other games of its kind, Hidden relies on art and design elements to impart its story and mood. The sketchbook like art used for the cutscene narrations was one of my favorite parts of this game and put me in the mind of field drawings done by 1920’s archaeologists. The sketches seem to get darker and more distraught the further you progress into the game, reminiscent of the mad scribbling of Adriano Scopelli’s final days.
The visual cues here, meant to represent your own slow descent into madness, are hauntingly unnerving in the best possible ways.
The in-game graphics of Hidden are better realized than many others in its genre and keep a solid cohesive look throughout the game while also developing just enough to showcase the foreboding horror. The art style of On the Trail of the Ancients allows for the classic “monster-in-the-details” motif that so wonderfully sets this terrifying tale apart from the rest. It is in this use of graphics and art, as well as the grasp of how to utilize shadow, depth, and hue to allow the player to feel the darkness and insanity that is slowly descending around them that the genius of Hidden’s visual style really comes into play. In almost subliminal ways you can literally begin to see the world loosing it’s stability around you and whatever inhabits the doomed realms beyond beginning to bleed through.
Music and Sound
The music and sound design of Hidden is another excellent way the designers lull you into the world of the ancients. Walking onto the balcony of your room at the boarding house, South American bird calls greet you and you can almost feel the heat of the southern hemisphere’s beating sun just as when you reach the Patagonia camp you can feel the tense creaks when opening the door and hollow footsteps set against the absence of wildlife and insect sounds deep within the forest. We can’t talk about the sound of Hidden without discussing the amazing musical score to this game. The tense orchestral music in moments of discovery along with stirring violins during encounters with the otherworldly in the jungle enhance the game’s already engrossing visuals and unique art styles.
Pros & Cons
In my opinion, Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients is one of the best developed, thought out, and designed point and click games of the genre overall. With incredible visuals and sound as well as an engaging story line, On the Trail of the Ancients will quickly become a favorite of both adventure game lovers and horror game fans alike. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t aspects of this title that some gamers may find off putting or simply difficult beyond context. Let’s take a look at just a few of the incredible features of Hidden, as well as a few places where there is room for improvement.
- The visual art styles and graphics of this game lend themselves heavily to producing a mood of fear and apprehension, lulling the player into a delightfully brooding headspace necessary to experience this Lovecraft inspired story.
- The sound and music cues also serve to enhance the game’s visuals and story dramatically with soaring orchestral heights and subtle muted percussion in moments of mystique
- The overall story of this game will keep you on the edge of your seat and will be the point and click pick of any classic horror or horror game fan.
- At least two points in the game it seems that puzzles go up in difficulty to an extreme level. This happens once in the first part of the game at the boarding house and again in the second part in the Patagonia forests. The puzzle in the game’s first half I was able to overcome with guess work while the second half I had to resort to the video walkthrough.
- Since the release of On the Trail of the Ancients, Lost Spell has announced the release of the second installment, Hidden: the Untold. Since that time however, Lost Spell has seemingly vanished into the darker realms themselves with no social media correspondence and no updates on the games release since Halloween 2016. Presumably part two and the continuation of the story will never be produced. Gamer be warned if you begin this tale you may never see the end! However, you can follow Lost Spell’s Facebook page if you’re still hoping that the sequel one day appears.
Conclusions, Where to Find, and Recommendations
I would recommend Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients to anyone who is a fan of adventure games, horror games, point and click games, or any combination thereof, as well as fans of horror storytelling and classic horror enthusiasts. Excellent visuals and sound design as well as classic, simple gameplay with an updated twist, and a gripping and spellbinding story make for one of the best games of this genre available. Though the full ending of Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients may never be realized, taking this adventure, even up to the point the maddening script of the climax transcends into what is essentially the blank page of the credits screen is well worth the three to four hour gameplay time. You can buy Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients game on STEAM or play a free version of the game at Gameshed.com
Gameshed is the internet’s one stop shop for any genre game you are hankering for. From adventure and point and click genres to shooter and zombie titles, Gameshed has it all. With titles like The Secret of the Necromancer, The House on the Hill, and Keyhole, the game adaption of another famous horror writer’s work, you’ll have plenty to keep you company on dark and stormy nights after the closing credits roll of your latest adventure. You can browse Game Shed’s selection of scary games if you’re still wanting more mystery and suspense after emerging from the dark, other-worldly jungles, of Hidden: On the Trail of the Ancients.