When I was a student, there were two franchises that I would always check out of the school library, Tintin and Where’s Wally (Waldo for any Americans reading this). Today I’m taking a look at a game called Wind Peaks, a game that reminds me of Where’s Wally, filling me with nostalgia despite having never heard of the game before the developers contacted us. Although you may think a digital adaptation of the hide-and-seek game may sound overly easy and simple, I can assure you that I had to use the in-game help on a number of occasions!
Developed and published by Actoon Studio, Wind Peaks appears to be the studio’s first commercial game on both PC and the Nintendo Switch, showcasing the brilliant art design and addictive gameplay they’re capable of. Upon reaching the credits of the game, after a few hours, I saw that the game was given the full title of Wind Peaks: Chapter One, implying that there’s possibly going to be more adventures to come – which I’ll certainly be picking up.
So, let’s take a closer look and see if this is a game that you should pick up today…
Wind Peaks follows the adventures of a group of scouts who stumble upon a treasure map whilst out camping in a forest. Your task, as the almighty overseer of these curious children, is to find objects which they can use in order to progress with the story, and also find and use various items to interact with obstacles and creatures in the way. As the story moves on, you get closer to finding the elusive treasure, making this an adventure that they’ll never forget.
The story may be simple, held together with storyboard cutscenes and in-game interactions, but the main focus of the game isn’t a deep and complicated narrative, it’s all about the gameplay. I was advised when we received the game for review, that it should take us around 90-120 minutes to complete – I don’t know if I should be ashamed or happy that it actually took me almost double that due to being unable to find certain items (until I realised how the help system worked).
I played the game through to the end, I unlocked all of the trophies, and I even let my mother play it (as she enjoys games like this), so let’s have a look at the mechanics and then I’ll talk about if we both enjoyed it or not.
Imagine a digital version of Where’s Wally – that’s essentially the gameplay for Wind Peaks. Each of the ten scenes has a rather big, and very detailed, location that contains a number of well-hidden items or people which you’re tasked with finding. You can zoom right in or back out in order to scout the area at a glance, using either the Joy-Con controllers or the power of your fingers to interact with the various objects on the screen. However, not all of the objects will be hidden in plain sight, some are behind environmental objects, showing only a small portion of their body – requiring you to tap away in some instances.
The game isn’t a static Hidden Object Game, like HO segments in Artifex Mundi titles – for example, the world contains moving NPCs who laugh when you ‘poke’ them. Also, some of the stages require you to interact with creatures and items in order to uncover the objects you’re looking for, such as looking behind bushes and using your camera to take pictures of wildlife as they hide from you. Each scene has its own set of interactions and objects, carefully integrated into the beautifully drawn environments, everything blends in rather than sticking out like a sore thumb!
Aside from finding the items the game wants you to locate, to move on with the story, there are also some trophies that will push you to explore in order to unlock them. Sure, you could just rush through the game and not take the trophies into account, but where’s the fun in that? Tracking down Bigfoot, recycling bottles, and building totem poles are fun activities.
Wind Peaks is a very family-friendly and casual game, it may not take an adult too long to finish but I’m sure younger children will love the visual aesthetics and challenge that the game provides. As I mentioned before, until I actually realised there was a help system – and how to use it – I was stumped for a while on a few of the maps due to how well-hidden the items can be. However, once I realised how to get a ‘hint’, the game became a little too easy as it doesn’t really give you a hint, it just tells you where the item is.
What I found interesting though is how you get the hint. You can tap on the object you’re having issues with, or hold X on the Joy-Con, and a timer will appear. At first, I thought this was a timer telling me it was highlighting the item until it reached zero – but it wasn’t. Basically, when you ask for a hint, the game won’t tell you where the object is until the timer gets to zero, so you are encouraged to still look for it on your own in the meantime. Even though I ended up asking for help a number of times, because of the timer, I found myself often finding the item on my own before it hit zero.
As such, even if you have issues finding one or two items, the game is able to point you in the right direction at any time. The only times this system didn’t seem to work was when you had to activate various items to make an object appear, as the game would just show you where the object will eventually pop up from and not where you should be looking.
I really enjoyed Wind Peaks, it kept me entertained for an afternoon and I couldn’t stop playing it once I started. My mother was the same when I let her borrow my Switch, although she found herself using the hint option more than myself due to her not being able to see some of the much smaller items. But, overall, we both had a lot of fun with the game and can’t wait for Chapter Two. However, there were a few things that I would have loved to see in this game, things which may make it into the next one?
I would love the game to have a random nature to it, shuffling the location of the hidden objects each time you restarted the game. The Humongous Entertainment games did something similar, shuffling what objects you had to use each time you started a new game – only this time, simply moving the location of the items would be enough. I still think that you’ll forget the locations after a few weeks of not playing, meaning you can replay the game, but having this shuffle mechanic would allow for instant replayability.
Another thing that also comes from my love of the Humongous Entertainment games is the interactions with the environment. Wind Peaks allows you to click on various things such as the trees and bushes in order to part them and see if anything’s hidden, but 99% of the time there’s nothing there. It would have been great if there were random things hidden behind them, more objects with interactions, and maybe more secrets to find. The game has a lot of interactions right now, but more meaningful and surprising ones would have pushed it to the next level.
The one issue I had
In one of the stages, in order to get the object you’re looking for, you have to find a number of statues and take note of the design upon them. Then, you have to mimic these designs on a set of tiles on the floor, causing the object to rise from the ground like something out of Indiana Jones. However, no matter how many times I tried to adjust the floor tiles with the Joy-Cons, they wouldn’t move – leading me to think I’d missed a switch or something which activated them.
However, as a last resort, I decided to use my finger – the puzzle moved as intended. I’m not sure if it was just a one-off issue, or if it’s something that needs patching, but that particular puzzle only worked for me when using the touchscreen. Other than this though, the rest of the game ran perfectly with no performance or technical issues, even the loading times are quite short and snappy.
*Update – I was being a dummy! The puzzle works fine if you use the Right Thumb-stick to move the stones. I was used to just using the Left stick and the A button, but this puzzle is solved using the right stick and the ZR button (you can use A but it’ll require holding the controller in a strange way). So, it’s not actually an issue, just a misunderstanding on my side!*
I’ve talked enough about the visuals, I think they’re really clean and crisp with a cute visual style that’ll appeal to everyone. But what about the sound? The game is full of ambient noises, such as birds and the rustling of leaves, which immerses you within the stage you’re playing. The developers have also added background music into each of the chapters, something which appears to have been highly requested when it originally launched on Steam. The music isn’t very loud or distracting, it’s subtle and quiet, acting as another relaxing element to this casual finding game.
If you’re looking for a casual game that you can wind down with for a few hours, Wind Peaks is for you. The gameplay is very similar to Where’s Wally, only digital with relaxing music and ambient sounds. It may not take you too long to complete, even if you’re trying to grab all of the trophies, but its a game you can easily return to time and time again as you’ll forget where the items were hidden after a while. No matter how old you are or how well you can see, the handy hint option will ensure that you never get stuck – making this a great game for all of the family.
Wind Peaks: Season One£9.99
- - Very nice visual aesthetics and design
- - The objects are well-hidden and can be a challenge to find (without the hint option)
- - It's very relaxing and casual
- - Amusing characters and interactions
- - Fun for everyone of all ages
- - At around two hours in length, it's shorter than I would have hoped
- - Although there's a lot of interactive points, most of them are meaningless
- - I wish there was a way to randomise the item locations for instant replayability (not affected the score)