There aren’t many people growing up in the ’80s, ’90s or 00’s who aren’t aware of hide and seek mastermind Wally, from the Where’s Wally books. I was one of those who spent countless hours going through each and every page, scanning up and down, looking for the ever-elusive Wally, or Waldo, before eventually getting to the end having memorised every character in the book. Wind Peaks is a game that looks to capture the very same unspoken magic of those books with some specific item hunts of its own. But is it enough to create a compelling gameplay experience in 2021?
As the debut title from Actoon Studio, Wind Peaks takes players on a hidden object adventure that spans across fourteen levels, each of which grows in size, with the whole game taking roughly 2-3 hours to complete, depending on how quick you are at searching for items – or how much you overly abusing the hint feature on display at the top of the screen.
The game sees players follow the story of a scout group, taking a trip up to Wind Peaks to look for a hidden treasure, but that’s as far as the story goes, as whilst comic style cartoon pictures fill sequences to create the minimalistic story between levels, there is nothing more than what I’ve just mentioned that will really be going on throughout the game and instead the focus is on the gameplay to create the overall experience.
Now of course sometimes simplicity and a dash of style can be all a game needs to really create a memorable experience, but whilst Wind Peaks isn’t a bad game, it only takes a few levels before things already begin to feel a bit repetitive. One reason for this boils down to each level producing mostly similar colours, with each environment designed with an autumnal feel to them, whilst your overall task is always the same besides a few optional objectives spread throughout certain levels such as throwing away a set number of bottles or finding a collection of cats and gnomes amongst a few others.
That said, Wind Peaks isn’t a bad game. If you’re after a game that offers no real stress or pressure to proceedings, then this is definitely a nice way to unwind as you won’t find enemies, or death, or any of the usual things that like to test your skills, In fact, it’s nothing more than well-hidden items throughout the entire game that will have you challenged, but whilst specific finds can prove easy to miss unless you’re paying full attention mostly due to only the odd corner of an item sticking out from behind an environmental object, there is the option to use the aforementioned hint feature to start a countdown for a surprisingly long three-minute timer which gives away the next items exact location once it reaches zero. With no limit on the number of times you can use this feature, you could essentially complete the entire game with this if you so desired – although you’d definitely ruin the fun of a good search.
To make things slightly more enjoyable, there are some items within each environment that prove interactive, with things such buildings and vehicles able to have their doors and windows opened, whilst some bushes can be pushed apart to see if an item lurks within, and this ensures that you check everywhere rather than a lazy look across the screen until something stands out. Despite this though, it would have been nice to see a few more items, or even every item within a level proves interactive rather than just specific objects such as buildings, bushes, and vehicles.
As for the artistic side of things, Wind Peaks is a rather well-crafted game with a beautiful art style that strikes as similar to that of Don’t Starve. Each environment feels like a believable countryside setting packed with fine details, whilst the audio didn’t ever stand out as memorable, although sometimes, it’s nice to just have a peaceful and quieter gameplay experience, and listening to the quiet forest/woodland type sounds certainly provide that.
Sadly, the repetition and lack of anything original makes the rather delightfully detailed cartoon adventure nothing more than some sweet eye candy on occasions whilst the item searching nature of gameplay grows tiresome after just a few levels due to nothing ever really changing from start to finish.
Wind Peaks is a short and easy adventure that can be enjoyed within an evening, it misses out on providing anything besides basic item hunting, but it doesn’t drag on too long to stop you from pushing through to the end. Whilst additional tasks in some levels such as stacking totems or photographing an animal with a camera you found are a slight break in the gameplay, you’ll mostly be doing the same thing over and over. It’s not bad if you want something simplistic, but it could certainly do more to be enticing and exciting and a little more engaging. It’s not a bad start from Actoon Studio, but it’s not quite up there with an Artifex Mundi title either.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.