It’s about that time of year where everyone gets just a little bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Where the appeal of good-natured peril and acceptance of the grisly and the ghastly are par for the course. It’s Halloween, and it’s a perfect time for a Hide and Shriek review!
We don’t have an absolute knockout punch of a game here. What I did find in my time with Hide and Shriek is a thematic fun house that can be entered at any time I please. It’s a game that is like any haunted house attraction that springs up this time of year – ultimately toothless, but definitely in the spirit of the season and just a lot of fun.
The premise is so incredibly simple: you and another player dart about Little Springs High School laying magical traps and ultimately trying to scare each other. The first to three scares in a row, or the most points at the end of ten minutes, wins the match. Points are earned by finding your specified colored orb and bringing it to an Altar that randomly shifts positions around the map, or by making your opponent trip your traps, among other things.
Before each match, a selection of random runes is drawn and scattered about the school’s map. Picking up these runes, either individually or in combinations, creates spells that let you plant devious traps. You can place jump-scare traps or electric traps that paralyze your foe, wards that lock doors or blow your target backwards when an object is interacted with, or floor traps that can draw your opponent into a dimensional maze or give away their position.
All this together is fun enough, but the best wrinkle is that you can’t see your opponent and they can’t see you unless certain traps or spells are cast. Setting traps, luring your target, and avoiding your foe stir together and transform you into a dark, giggling little mischief-maker in almost no time at all.
Not only does crafty trap placement play a role, but manipulating objects can factor in. Do you carefully close that door behind you and keep yourself rooted in place for a moment? Or do you leave it hanging open and flag your position? Can slamming a locker door draw your target into your trap? Was that noise nearby something you did, something your opponent is doing to draw you in, or someone carelessly swinging doors open?
In ten minutes, you’re both darting about in a cat-and-mouse game of wits and whimsy, like a Road Runner cartoon dressed in a Halloween costume. It’s a good time when you manage to lay the right trap or happen to sneak up on your unsuspecting foe, but it can also be as much fun marveling at the cleverness of the other player. More often than not I was having a good laugh at being taken by surprise as much as I was sneaking up on someone.
The thing that makes Hide and Shriek click is the fact that it doesn’t require a terribly high skill ceiling. The randomness of the runes mechanic keeps everyone on a pretty level playing field and being wily becomes as big of a factor as being reactive or fast. You’re forced to think on your feet and mesh sneakiness with speed.
With that all said, Hide and Shriek is definitely the sort of game you have to be in the mood for, and even then that mood can become somewhat fleeting. The single map of Little Springs High can be learned in pretty short order and gameplay can feel repetitive due to a lack of variety. After a few hours, the overall ambiance can overstay its welcome, much like walking around a shopping mall during the holidays. It’s a game that is better enjoyed in small doses than in any marathon sessions.
On top of that, Hide and Shriek feels like it missed a couple of opportunities to really turn up the tension. Being able to mess with the lights or move items would have gone a very long way towards making me feel a bit more like I was on the edge of my seat. Maybe it’s because I’m not too easily spooked, or maybe it was just the winking way a Shriek ribs you after leaping in your face, but I never felt true peril.
Still, I found myself grinning like mad whenever I played. Hide and Shriek loves Halloween and a good prank at the same time, and it’s hard not to be drawn into that feeling.
Hide and Shriek is not a very deep game, but the simple mechanics combined create something as boundlessly fun as the best arcade games out there. It’s a deathmatch without the brutality, combining reaction speed and smarts in equal measure. It doesn’t try to be more than what it says on the tin, and I can find that endearing in small enough morsels. It’s just a shame there aren’t more things to interact with or more maps to play in.
There’s nothing else like Hide and Shriek out there. This game brings whimsy and devilish shenanigans. It draws you into its gleeful enjoyment of all things Halloween and invites you to romp around in its little map. Hide and Shriek is in a class all of its own.
I’m offering this grade based solely on the people I’ve played with. Since the game is 1v1, and the point is to sneak around one another, chat is non-existent. Getting a sense of community and competition is all about how people interact and react. The interplay between you and your target makes for some really enjoyable matches in spite of the lack of pleasantries passed between players.
Hide and Shriek is set in a modern American high school with one hallway and several classrooms. It’s not going to be a barn burner in terms of graphical prowess. Still, all of the little touches you get to see while in the game set the tone well, and the masks you unlock and can customize are suitably creepy.
About the only thing that I can demerit the game’s sound for is its inconsistent sound effects. There were more than a few times I was hoping to slam a door and all I got was a gentle thump or no sound at all.
Value for Money 9/10
Hide and Shriek is about $6 for a seasonal and spooky good time. That’s not a hefty asking price for the game it is. In fact, most of the Halloween-based attractions around my area are just a few dollars over that price point. If you’ve got a little extra cash and you want to have a few enjoyable spooks, there’s almost no competition.
Hide and Shriek isn’t a game that will be recalled in the annals of video gaming history, but it is such a unique and enjoyable experience that it’s difficult not to recommend, especially to anyone who adores Halloween and the season’s general tone.
Perhaps the game will be expanded on with further DLC or other additional features. It certainly feels like a title that could be further built upon, and I personally would pay to see some extras if the price and features are right.
Regardless, Hide and Shriek is just as irresistible as a good jump scare, even if you only find a few hours every once in a while to play. It’s popcorn entertainment at its finest. You can’t help but turn off the lights, lower your monitor’s darkness level, put on some headphones and enjoy the ride.
+ Unique, thematic and entertaining gameplay
+ Low asking price
+ A fun treat for those who love Halloween or like a good-natured scare
– Gameplay can feel repetitive
– Lack of maps and interactable objects