I have always found the idea of stealth appealing. The idea of sneaking around and using the environment to hide, and eventually being in a place to dispatch your opponent without any reactions from their team members, has always seemed like a fun gaming mechanic. Unfortunately, every time I try this, it always ends up in one of two scenarios: either I get spotted way too easily and die, or I get spotted and end up trying to shoot everyone and pray and hope I fluke it well enough to get out the other side mostly unscathed.
So I was slightly apprehensive about approaching Intruders: Hide and Seek, as its main mechanic, if you haven’t guessed, is sneaking around and hiding from your enemies. I can’t shoot my way out of this one if things get messy, so I hoped that there may be other means to facilitate an escape, and there are, which we will get into a bit later.
But before we do that, it’s important to understand why you are helping a young boy who’s trying to rescue his parents and help his sick sister who’s trapped in the house’s panic room.
The basic premise of the game is that you are Ben, a 13-year-old who is traveling to your holiday home with your Mum, Dad and younger sister. Once there, you settle in for some R&R, but on the first night, three intruders break in and take your parents hostage. So, as the older brother, it’s up to you to try and help your parents and your ill sister, while figuring out why this is happening and evading capture from the intruders themselves.
To do this, you sneak around the house either by walking, crouching, or running. Ben isn’t the fastest while walking or crouching, and it can feel like an age when sneaking from one destination to the next. There are obvious reasons why this is the case, but maybe a slightly faster pace would have been appreciated. Scattered across the house are cabinets and other such enclosures for you to hide in, either to stop being seen or to evade the intruders if you have been slightly careless and have been spotted. It was here that I had my biggest issues with the game.
The first was that the movement was inconsistent. There is a point in the game where you are on a higher level than the intruder, who is patrolling the room, looking for you and your sister. I could run across this higher level without being heard, but once on the same level, even by walking, I was sometimes spotted and apprehended. The second is when you are trying to evade capture after being seen, and I had a few moments where the intruder was nowhere near me when I hid, but they still managed to know exactly where I was and capture me. This last one did get quite frustrating, as the game is over if this happens and you have to start from the last save point. But as a testament to the plot and gameplay, these small issues did not dampen my enjoyment of sneaking around and completing the tasks laid out in front of me.
Intruders: Hide and Seek is a very smooth experience from a plot perspective; you learn more and more as you go on. There are no fancy cutscenes; it’s all told from the in-game engine itself, and you do learn the majority of the story from your hiding places and overhearing conversations. The plot itself is nothing extraordinary; it’s a story that I’ve heard before, but the developers were not afraid to go to dark places here, and that surprised me. I wasn’t prepared for a couple of the major plot points, and that did make my eyebrows raise considerably, but in a good way! I was pleasantly surprised by these sections and the writers’ comment on not just going down the safe route.
The atmosphere within the game is well built, and the developers have managed to create an ambience in the house that lifts your senses while you are exploring. The rain is lashing against the windows, with a few lightning flashes every so often. The house is in darkness as the intruders have cut the power, and there is no music playing in the background. With this silence, you really do feel anxious, and I did frustratingly succumb to a couple of jump scares during my playthrough.
But none of this would work without a good, well-laid-out house to sneak around, and thankfully, it was planned to perfection. This family must be loaded, as the house is massive! But that does mean you have a good area to explore, as if it were based on my little three-bedroom house, it would be over in minutes.
During your sneaking and hiding, you do have access to some equipment. First, there is a map, and although it is quite basic, it does the job. It would have been helpful for it to show exactly where you were instead of just the general area of the house. Other pieces of equipment at your disposal are a flashlight and a walkie-talkie to keep in touch with your sister. Here lies another inconsistency, as the walkie-talkie makes a beeping noise when it is used, but this does not attract the interest of any of the three intruders roaming the house.
An impressive amount of detail has been put into the locations, especially the house, with lots of small details making it in. You will notice the character models are a little rough around the edges, though, and they surprised me by funnily reminding me of Half Life in some small way. You could tell this game was made for VR, which is not detrimental to the game whatsoever, and some might find this jarring, especially with the game’s price point to also consider. At £17.99, you are getting a two- to three-hour experience at most, and with the included inconsistencies and graphical roughness, I think this is slightly overpriced. Knock £5 off, and then we are talking!
All in all, I am happy to recommend Intruders: Hide & Seek. I still sucked at sneaking around and was captured way too much, but there is enough here that kept me invested and pushing to evolve the plot to its conclusion. When you compare the good with the bad, the good wins easily with its wonderful atmosphere building, writing, and those particular plot points I mentioned earlier. I would certainly wait for a sale, though, before parting with your hard-earned cash, and maybe you, too, will be helping Ben hide and seek around his holiday home. But for me, I need a good cup of tea after all that, just to settle my nerves!
Available now on Nintendo Switch, PS, Steam & Xbox. You can also play this in VR for the PSVR system.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch