A game that should have stayed hidden.
I don't know where to begin with this travesty of a game. What started out as an interesting concept could not possibly have gone any more wrong.
The Hidden advertises itself as “an Augmented Reality ghost hunting adventure”, putting you in the position of a new recruit at the Ghostly Entity Investigation and Strike Team (G.E.I.S.T.). The idea is that you can wander around the streets “patrolling” for paranormal activity, with your 3DS camera giving you the ability to see beyond our plane of existence as you search for “shades”.
The main part of the game is the Scanner, where you look through the 3DS camera while it tells you, simply, to “walk”. This literally makes up the majority of the game's experience. Basically, you have to patrol around your immediate location for a randomized and undisclosed amount of time (my record was 16 minutes) until the game decides to progress the story for you and some shades pop up to attack.
Then begins a game that is almost an exact clone of Face Raiders, except that the things you're shooting at move much faster and jitter around you like bothersome mosquitoes. One of the tutorial missions at the start of the game has you frantically spinning in place as you try to keep a lock on a shade and defeat it entirely with the use of a weak suction tool. If it manages to leave the borders of your screen, its health completely regenerates and you have to start the process over again until it's captured.
Once you have destroyed all the shades in the vicinity, that area is considered safe, and you must venture out into the world to find a new shade hunting location. In other words, you are unable to progress in the game within your own home, and you have to go somewhere else with a new Wi-Fi connection, such as friends' houses, coffee shops, or your local McDonalds. Once there, the process repeats itself—wander aimlessly around the premises until something eventuates in the game, and then spin in mad circles on the spot shooting at glowing, colorful blobs until the area is safe. I can't imagine this activity is anything less than embarrassing for just about anyone to do in public. Without a considerable amount of places with free Wi-Fi connections that you can travel to, the story does not progress and the game cannot be finished.
Sometimes in the patrolling stage, you'll receive random text messages from your comrades on the G.E.I.S.T. team. These attempt to add realism to the experience and buff out the storyline, but they're poorly written, riddled with annoying n3tSp34k, and only serve to break up the monotony of walking in circles.
For a game that says “ghost hunting” on the front of the box, the story takes every possible opportunity to reaffirm that the things you're hunting for are NOT ghosts, rather alien entities living parallel to our own world. My guess is that this is to justify the artists' horrible design, as the shades more often than not look like luminescent blobs of transparent paint rather than anything remotely ghostly. They make incredibly obnoxious noises as they circle around shooting gunk at you, which I suppose is meant to make you want to kill them all the more.
There's also an alarming safety concern. As you boot up the game, it warns you to “Be careful playing The Hidden. Play only in safe areas and be aware of your surroundings”. Yet, the cover art shows a shadowy creature emerging from a dark doorway in a decrepit, collapsing building. If you had this game and had the choice between hunting ghosts in your bathroom or that creepy old abandoned house down the street, which would you choose? Add to this that you must wander back and forth in public places while glued to your 3DS screen. On the rare occasions when something does attack you in the game, you have to spin on the spot without moving, and there's no way to pause. I have nothing but worry for any younger players who are too fixated on their game to notice the approaching traffic, kidnappers, or bullies who either want to steal the handheld or beat the poor kid up for playing such a lame excuse for a game.
The Hidden aspired to take some existing 3DS mechanics and turn them into a worthwhile and lengthy experience, but there are simply too many conditional factors to meet before you can get anything resembling a game out of it. When something interactive does happen, it doesn't work very well at all. For everything this game has on offer, Face Raiders does it better, can be played in the comfort of your home, and is included free on the 3DS.