Remember how much fun Hide and Seek was as a child? Finding the ultimate hiding place, keeping as quiet and as still as possible whilst the seeker roamed around, and (for those brave enough) the adrenaline rush when changing your spot when the seeker’s back was turned. Now, imagine how terrifying it would be if the game took place in the middle of a stormy night and the seekers were a group of home invaders that had taken your family hostage; such is the premise of Tessera Studios’ new VR-compatible stealth game – Intruders: Hide and Seek.
Intruders: Hide and Seek begins with a young boy named Ben and his family returning to their luxurious yet secluded woodland home after some well-needed rest and relaxation for their father, a pharmaceutical specialist in the midst of developing a special drug that could be a potential target. Upon arrival, Ben helps his parents with chores and plays with his poorly sister Irene. The camera perspective sets the player at the same height as the protagonist. The game gives one the chance to get used to core gameplay including a simple game of hide and seek between brother and sister, allowing the player the chance to familiarise themselves with the mechanics that will come into play later in the game.
Following some post-bedtime sneaking about, the siblings discover a secret panic room – complete with a bank of CCTV monitors. The calm is soon interrupted by a group of three home invaders (led by a sinister looking man wearing a mask made from a deer’s skull) taking their parents hostage. The determined duo vow to alert the outside world, with Ben leaving his sister and the safety of the panic room in order to make contact and save the day; communicating with Irene via walkie-talkie. Alas, the invaders are savvy enough to have cut the power and phone line, which erases any chance of simply making a phone call or sending an email to the authorities. Unlike your run of the mill burglars, the group of invaders seem to be searching for something specific.
Outside the safety of the panic room, Ben is essentially fed a seemingly never-ending list of items to fetch from all corners of the house; Ben must make his way through the gloom, avoiding the prowling bad guys in order to reach the latest goal. Irene will offer hints when any of the invaders are nearby, giving one a window of opportunity to reach a safe haven, such as a cupboard or an empty room. Should Ben get spotted, the invaders will chase him down and the game resets to the latest checkpoint; being spotted is a panic-inducing experience, as I found myself frantically searching for somewhere to hide, conscious of the fact that my pursuer was hot on my heels.
The star of the show here is the house itself; Tessera Studios have done a wonderful job of creating an environment that is highly detailed, from its open plan ground floor to the multi-roomed first floor mezzanine, there’s just the right balance of wide open spaces and enough nooks and crannies to stop it from feeling unnecessarily difficult to traverse.
Once one learns the layout of the house and patrol routes of the baddies it becomes far easier to circumnavigate them all together. I found that I spent the majority of the time crouching, which made movement slower and incredibly laborious. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the character models, as they do feel badly realised by comparison. Likewise, some of the dialogue feels a little stilted and awkward, especially Ben’s as some of his lines feel like they were written for a middle-aged man rather than a child.
The sense of fear and foreboding intensifies when donning the PSVR headset as there’s no safety net of viewing the world on a flat screen. I found it handy that I could peak around corners to check that the coast was clear before scuttling along to my next stop; though trying this whilst hidden in a closet with a screen door momentarily blanked out my view, which I found a little annoying. I also found it strange seeing the world from the perspective of a child as I’m a shade over six feet tall and have forgotten just how big and imposing the world seems when you’re smaller than most of the furnishings!
Overall Intruders: Hide and Seek is an interesting take on the stealth genre as it plays on the irrational childhood fear of one’s parents being taken away, as well as things going bump in the night. The game’s plot treads familiar ground and its short play time shouldn’t take more than a session or two to see through to completion. There’s little in the way of replay value other than seeking out in-game collectables. Other than offering VR owners a long-awaited stealth game there’s very little to set it apart from a crowded genre.