As a kid, I used to have rather vivid dreams and nightmares. We’ve all dreamt about dying or running away from something only to find you’re running on the spot and can’t get away. However, ever since our house was burgled, whilst we were upstairs asleep, I constantly used to have nightmares about the same situation only with a more morbid outcome. So, when I saw that there was a game out, called Intruders: Hide and Seek, which will allow me to face my fears and relive being a child whilst the house is being searched by deadly intruders, how could I turn down the request to review it!
The cherry on top is the fact that the entire game can be played in either VR or flat mode as well – as you can imagine, I didn’t play the entire game in VR but I did play a decent chunk of it to get a fair impression of it. However, I never gave up and I made it through to the end credits with only two trophies left for the platinum. I know it’s not much, but I’m quite proud of myself for this as the game was much more than a ‘what if’ scenario for me, it was a case of reliving a fear I’ve had for a while. So, Let’s check out this new game from Tessera Studios, Daedalic Entertainment, and PS Talents.
Intruders: Hide and Seek has a rather long introduction where you’ll be given a limited amount of control as you get tonnes of exposition and backstory crammed into your ears both directly and indirectly. As a young boy, you’re in the backseat with your sister on the way home with your mother and father. You’ve had to have a little time away whilst a Pa… pipework was being repaired within the house. Your father is always on the phone with his office and is rather secretive with what he could be talking about – the one-sided conversations you’ll hear won’t make any sense until later on into the game
After a few mini-tutorials, you find yourself within a new panic room with your sister – so that’s what the builders were doing! However, disaster strikes when you look at the monitor and see that a bunch of thugs have invaded your home and have taken your parents prisoner within the basement. You head out to investigate whilst your sister locks the door (which is nice of her) and it’s now down to you to stealthily move around the house as you try and find out what’s going on, find hidden items, talk to your parents, and hopefully make it out alive.
The narrative itself is touted as being around four hours long, yet my playthrough was around six due to messing up and getting caught, along with a few issues I’ll touch on later on. All in all though – I’d recommend playing the game with the lights out and in one sitting for the best experience.
As this is a VR game as well as a flat game (non-VR), the controls are slightly different yet ultimately the same. There is no support for the Move controllers or the Aim Controller, only the DS4. This is because you’ll be running around and having to rely on accurate controls, yet you won’t actually be picking up objects to use as weapons or traps – this isn’t Home Alone, unfortunately. To be honest, I would have loved it if it was like Home Alone as we could set up paint cans and marbles to slow the goons down, but as it stands, other than the incredible bravery of the child protagonist, I really liked the realism on display by the developers.
In order to learn the controls, Intruders: Hide and Seek seamlessly inserts the tutorial into the game, which is awesome. From learning how to operate things by turning on the fuses, to being taught stealth through playing hide and seek with your sister, it’s a well thought out introduction which is much better than a simple button prompt instructional window appearing on the screen for you to read. This is the reason why the game has a very slow start though, as the first chapter is basically you getting all the exposition and learning the controls. But, once you’re past this initial part, the action begins to sink in.
One thing I found rather strange in the tutorials is that you’re taught to calm yourself down if you’re in hiding and someone is close to you. This requires you to shake the DS4 in time to the heartbeat on the screen. However, outside of the tutorial, I never had to use it in the entire game! I’m not sure if I was just lucky, and never reached that much fear, or if the game just ‘forgot’ to initiate the mechanic in the real game?
I’m not good at stealth games, I’ve admitted this a few times previously. In Assassin’s Creed I tend to directly attack people, in Deus Ex I stunned everyone so I didn’t have to deal with anyone directly, and in Conarium I literally glitched a stealth segment and ran because I couldn’t do it! So, you’d expect me to suck at Intruders: Hide and Seek as it’s basically a stealth game. However, I thought I did okay. The 3D spatial audio within VR really helps pinpoint where everyone is and in both modes, the nasty people are constantly talking to themselves so you know when they are near. Plus, you can always try to outrun them if you’re spotted and hide under a bed or in a cupboard.
As such, I didn’t find it too difficult to move around the house without being seen, especially if you’ve been caught a few times as you’ll begin to learn their patterns – although, after every key moment in the game, the bad dudes change their paths and locations. However, just like a few games recently, I had to remap my controls slightly in the PlayStation 4’s accessibility options as one operation, in particular, wasn’t comfortable at all – running. Once again, this is another game where you have to push down L3 to run and hold it down as you’re pushing the direction on the same stick. I remapped this to L1 and it was much more comfortable and accessible.
As I said previously, I played a few hours in VR and the rest without the headset – this allowed me to find faults and advantages with both methods, let’s look at them…
PSVR is by far the prefered way to play the game. Sure, the visuals aren’t as sharp as some other recent games, but you can still make out what everything is without too much trouble. However, the game is quite dark – due to the burglars never turning on the lights, even though they have already imprisoned the two household owners. I mean, the house is about as remote from neighbours as you can get! I’ve never understood this trope, but it’s quite popular – just turn the lights on! However, the darkness does make it a little tricky to see things in VR without your flashlight.
It adds to the immersion but could do with being a tad brighter in my opinion. Personally, I thought flat mode was easier to see and offered a clearer view without getting too bright or dark.
One of the biggest advantages the PSVR option has is the ability to look around corners without being seen. All you need to do is move your head IRL and you’ll see around corners and the evil people won’t see you as they don’t detect your head if it’s only a few seconds. However, when playing it in flat mode, you can’t peek! This means you have to shimmy your body out around corners in order to see who’s coming and if the coast is clear – this resulted in me getting caught a few times.
I would have loved it if the developers would have added a peek button, like holding down L1 and pushing left or right to peek around corners safely.
Now, this is a little unfair, as I know it’s a bug, but I need to mention it. I’m an inverted gamer, I can only play games efficiently when they have the Y-axis inverted (up and down). There is an option for this when playing in flat mode on the PS4 but it’s incorrectly inverting the X-axis instead (left and right). This has been reported and there is a patch on the way to resolve the issue coming soon, but as of today, it’s still incorrect. This meant that I was at a disadvantage when playing it outside of VR (as in VR you simply move your head about to look).
So, I felt more comfortable in VR than the flat mode, but that’s my preference and only because of a bug at the moment.
The Fear Factor
The amount of fear you’ll have whilst playing Intruders: Hide and Seek will vary based on the person playing. Myself, I found it to be quite intimidating, scary, and it really got my heart pumping, thanks to my past which I talked about earlier. However, if you’ve played games such as Outlast or Amnesia before, this probably won’t affect you as much as it did me. It’s like a mild experience where you’ll certainly have a few jumps and shocks, but not as many as other games like Resident Evil VII or The Exorcist: Legion VR.
The game is technically just a stealth adventure game yet I’d also class it as a thriller or horror as well. It does touch on some rather dark themes and subjects the more you uncover as the game goes on. There’s even a section of the house which contains a few horrific discoveries as well. Just don’t go into it thinking it’ll be like Home Alone or Resident Evil, it sits comfortably in the middle. Although, if you do get caught by the skull-wearing madman, he tends to stab you to death – did I mention that you’re a small child…
Ah yes, the one thing all VR games have at the moment is collectables and Intruders: Hide and Seek isn’t going to break that tradition. There are numerous items and notes scattered throughout the house which you can pick up as you move from room to room. These offer backstory and uncovers more info on what’s going on, but their main purpose is for PSN trophies. Also, I found that if you ignore your dad in the first chapter when he asks you to turn on the fuse, you can freely explore all but two rooms of the house and uncover a lot of these items without having the constant threat of being caught on your back!
I do have one major issue with a certain set of collectables though – the PC documents. When playing the game in flat mode, the text on the PC Monitor is tiny. I complained about the font size in Song of Memories, as that was about 2cm on my 51″ TV in some areas, the PC text in Intruders: Hide and Seek is about 1 CM or less on my 51″ TV – this resulted in me having to stand near the TV to read the emails and documents. I feel we should either have a ‘zoom’ function like some VR games have (when playing on a flat TV) such as XING: The Land Beyond or the font on the PC needs to be increased to make it more comfortable to read.
There’s an example below, once you’re using a PC you can’t move, so you’re locked in that position. Open the image and take a few steps back – it’s really hard to read.
As previously mentioned, Intruders: Hide and Seek is a mixed bag in terms of visual quality. The darkness of the game hides a few lower quality textures and simplified surfaces, but you’ll be too engrossed in the gameplay to even notice that, to be honest. I had an issue with the text on the computer screen in flat mode, as it’s too small, and the darkness in VR as it was too dark. Other than that, the rest of the game both looked and felt really good to play in both modes. The animations of the characters aren’t as smooth as I would have hoped for, but they aren’t robotic like we’ve seen in some games recently, so that’s a positive as well.
In terms of the music – there is none. This was an excellent choice in my opinion. Okay, so you do have some sort of drone music/noises which you’ll hear every now and again in the background to avoid it being 100% quiet, but there’s no ‘music’ as such. Instead, you’ll hear the rain pouring down and splashing on the windows, the footsteps of the unwanted guests, the random chatter alerting you to their position, and the creeks of doors opening and shutting around you. With headphones on, in the dark, on your own, Intruders: Hide and Seek is really immersive and the whole atmosphere of the events come together into a terrifying package.
I wish I could say none, but I can’t. Other than the aforementioned PC font size and incorrect axis being inverted, there was one issue which forced me to reload a few times. I’ll call it the “half hidden” issue. Basically, you can hide in various spots – under the bed, in a cupboard, in a wardrobe, or in small cabinets. However, If you approach a cabinet (which are about chest height to our protagonist) and you’re stood up, if you click to enter it then you become stuck. How?! Well, your lower body is safely hidden inside the cabinet yet the top half of you is poking out the top like a tall person stood up in a limousine! This didn’t happen all the time but it happened a fair few times and you always have to reload when it does.
Intruders: Hide and Seek is pretty much a Home Invasion simulator staring some very brave children. I was constantly anxious about what was going to happen next and what was around each and every corner of my own house whilst I explored and tried to avoid the uninvited intruders. Unlike Home Alone, this game is more on the serious side with no silly traps or comical situations, but it’s also not as terrifying as the VR horror games which are out there – it sits in between the two. Bar the few issues I had with font sizes and bugs (which should get patched), the experience was beyond what I was expecting and rather interesting with its deep backstory and exposition.
I would say that VR is the best way to experience this game if you have access to the headset, yet flat mode works just as well for those who don’t. Also, for those who like their platinums, when I had done my first playthrough I only had two collectable related trophies to get, so it’s a nice and easy platinum (there’s even two, one for EU and one for NA). You also have a full chapter select if you need to go back and pick up anything you missed.
If you like Horror games and VR but feel games like Resident Evil are too much, try out Intruders: Hide and Seek instead, it’s technically not a horror but it is a bit of a thriller at heart!
Intruders: Hide and Seek£15.99
- - Very atmospheric and the ambient noises work perfectly
- - Interesting backstory which you uncover throughout the night
- - Has both a VR and Flat mode
- - Nice tutorial which is seamlessly merged into the first chapter
- - I thought it was quite terrifying in VR as it's one of my fears
- - There are a few bugs and issues at the moment. Nothing major but they are there
- - Thanks to the exposition and tutorials, the game is a bit of a slow starter
- - No option to peek around corners in flat mode