There’s a reason we all love the autumn season. The leaves change colors, the air is cooler, and the wind blows on your window as you fall asleep. “Actoon Studios” captures that feeling in their latest game, “Wind Peaks”. This hidden object game resembles an interactive children’s book that offers a simple but cozy experience. So how well does this little indie game score? Well, let’s find out as we go over the game.
Story through Context
“Wind Peaks” doesn’t tell the most intricate story. It doesn’t need to. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing is going on as you play. Here, we follow the adventures of a cub scout group that goes camping in the woods. While on this trip, they discover a hidden book containing an old map. Now, along with their camp counselor, they are on a quest to follow the map that may lead them to something marvelous! Will they find a hidden treasure? Or will they discover something even more mysterious?
Although the story is presented through very brief cutscenes between each level, “Wind Peaks” manages to strengthen its narrative through your objectives as well as the details on each level. Going in, you’ll be able to piece together what the current dilemma is and the transition from one location to the next. You’ll also be able to tell what some character motivations are despite a lack of dialogue. Everything is told through context clues and in that aspect, it does a good job.
This does, however, come as a slightly double-edged sword. I am, of course, talking about the various campers that roam around as you play each stage. They don’t really do much and clicking on them won’t give you much interaction. They simply make very generic noises that sound like stock sound effects. While the game does go for a more minimalistic experience, it would have been nice to see some unique expressions or actions to make them feel more like individuals rather than props. Nothing game-breaking but something that could have been done slightly better while still keeping the minimalist style.
An interactive Search and Find
Wind Peak’s gameplay resembles that of a “Where’s Waldo” book where your objective is to find hidden objects on each level. The concept sounds simple but there’s a little bit more to it than that. Thanks to it being presented as a videogame, there are a few more ways to interact with each level. This includes interacting with structures and light puzzle solving.
You’ll be given a list of objects you need to find which have some relevance to the events going on in the story. Whether this is waking up a camp counselor or finding a hidden treasure map. You’ll also be given the opportunity to use certain items which are necessary first steps to finding the next. A flashlight may illuminate parts of the area while a camera may be required to take a picture of a certain animal on the map.
“Wind Peaks” also has a few hidden objectives if you are the type of person to get really thorough in your search. These objectives might even come with a puzzle you need to solve such as putting a totem in the correct order or finding statues with symbols on them. My only complaint is that the Switch version doesn’t use the touch screen.
Pleasing artStyle, But needs more interaction
The art style for “Wind Peaks” is very cozy. It resembles Netflix’s “Hilda” or Disney’s “Gravity Falls”. It’s hand-drawn, which makes the game really nice to look at. You’ll get a nice taste of the wilderness as you search for hidden objects. However, it not only channels the look. It also channels the spirit of both these shows with its nods to cryptids, magic, and the unknowable wilderness.
As mentioned before, “Wind Peaks” plays out like a “Where’s Waldo?” book. However, unlike the aforementioned book, which has plenty of goofy characters and events happening in the background, this game seems to be somewhat basic at times. Not to say that the stages are empty and devoid of anything interesting to look at. There is definitely a story unraveling in the background, however, it would be nice to include more interaction with the “non-objective” set pieces. It would give the player more reason to admire the art direction and touch the rest of the level more often.
Sound effects are a case of hit or miss. I’d say soundtrack but “Wind Peaks” doesn’t really have many musical tracks. On one hand, having forest sounds can be relaxing and put you in the mood to play the game. However, the lack of music gets noticeable the longer you play and it would have been nice to at least have the option between ambient forest sounds and a smooth medley.
Quick Adventure with a Relaxed Difficulty
“Wind Peaks” offers a relaxing to moderate challenge. If you’re expecting this to be a really intricate hidden object game then you have misread the tone. However, that doesn’t mean that all the object locations are straightforward. “Wind Peaks” cleverly uses an interactable platform to hide objects beneath what’s visible on a surface level. So make sure to shake the trees and open windows to get a better view.
I think for a game that’s meant to be played casually “Wind Peaks” does a good job of wrapping its gameplay and difficulty around this concept without making it feel like it was specifically made for young kids either. Let it be clear though, “Wind Peaks” is a very short game, and if you have a really good eye for finding things and figuring out puzzles you may even be able to beat it in less than an hour.
Pleasant but not Groundbreaking
“Wind Peaks” is by no means a perfect game or even a perfect Hidden Object activity. There are things it did well and things that could have been better. All that being said, “Wind Peaks” is a decent game for kids or anyone who just wants to play something cozy. If you love the wilderness or just love the idea of going outside again, “Wind Peaks” offers a relaxing experience to unwind with. If you enjoyed the experience, though, then the ending does imply that there is more to come in possible future updates. This has definitely already come true. It has been receiving updates with new objectives and minigames to improve the experience. So who knows what it will look like in the future? “Wind Peaks” is available on Steam and on the Nintendo Switch eShop.