Lo-fi Frightener: Hide

Spooky, yes.
I just spotted this extremely minimal horror-FPS over on Denby’s free games round up, and it’s worth taking a look at. It’s a clunky, grainy first-person game set at night in a snowy wood, under distant searchlights and sirens. The object of the game is find five locations, and read the five plaques, before the thing that is searching for you – some kind of disturbing mobile searchlight thing light – manages to find you. Sprint and you’ll get out of breath and need to stop to recover. It’s stupidly lo-fi and quite tricky to find your way about, but it’s startlingly atmospheric for a game of so little content.


  1. Nevard says:

    Honestly I can’t say I was that impressed, I know it was going for mood but the fact that it’s nearly impossible to see anything was going a little too far in my opinion.
    I am content to play games with poor graphics, I am not content to play games that intentionally try and make themselves unplayable.
    Hell, maybe I even could have forgiven that if there was much game in this “game”, but honestly I need to be given a bit more than walking really slowly around a snowy forest while it plays weird noises to stay interested.

    The review it was given by the website linked to in the article is honestly laughable. In no way did its use of sound “Rival Amnesia”, it was an air raid siren, a church bell and the noise of a fat man eating ribs that got louder or softer based on your proximity to objects. That is hardly ground breaking material.
    The ending also isn’t “genuinely scary” if you get caught (and I had to intentionally stagger into the monster’s arms to do so), the screen just slowly turns red and then displays your score.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, uh. This is pretty insipid.

      Oh look, there’s a sign on the church. It shows the word “RAPE”. My, I am so moved by this.

      I’ll give it the credit of the airship showing up and locking me in its beam unti I ducked behind something being a nice touch.

      Advanced warning to Win7 users: looks like the ZIP was made on a Mac using whichever damn program it is that causes the extracted files to be set as encypted. This might then cause Windows to start nagging about backing up your encryption key if it’s the first encrypted files you’ve got.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “It shows the word “RAPE”. My, I am so moved by this.”

      Oh please.

    • Xocrates says:

      Yeah, I have to agree.

      This could be interesting if it was a tech demo made 15+ years ago. As it stands it is not atmospheric, gives no impression of “survival” or “horror”, and the goal is pointless, with the plaques trying too hard to make the game feel edgy.

      Though I wonder what game that site played, because it wasn’t this one.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Funnily enough, “oh please” was pretty much my reaction to the game.

    • N says:

      I have a 24″ monitor and my goddamn eyes hurt after playing this crap.

    • Tei says:

      “bad graphics” != “low resolution”.
      Bad graphics is bad art direction. Style and ambient gets a loong way. And this game has it.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      At the RAPE sign I thought the game was a parody.

      At the end screen I was sure of it.

    • Dervish says:

      “Lo-fi” is also not a synonym for “bad graphics.” I’m not sure how that term got popular, but it makes no sense when applied to games. Well, I guess graphics could be “low fidelity” on purpose if the person introduced compression artifacts and such willfully, but the point is that it doesn’t mean “low res” or “simple” or “pixel art.”

  2. Teddy Leach says:

    Well, I enjoyed it.

    • MrLebanon says:

      me too!

    • Cim says:

      Same here… maybe I was just not expecting as much but I did enjoy this little game.

      It was atmospheric for me at least (headphones + dark room required). Loved the fact that you start in the woods, panting as if you had just been running with sirens in the background. Overall it was very well done although I could have done without the signs. That part just felt like it was trying to hard.

    • Pattom says:

      And me as well. I’m a fan of scary stories but not scary games, so this strikes a perfect balance. As The Tupper says below, “nightmarish” is a good descriptor: there’s no obvious threat here, but the atmosphere of it is perfect. It very much feels like you’ve fallen asleep, dreamed you got lost somewhere unfamiliar, and then slipped into one of those “oh God I can’t turn around there’s a monster right behind me” dreams. It’s the type of game where having simple mechanics works in its favor.

      Speaking of which, do the enemies continue to grow in number as you progress? My heart sank when I saw another had spawned at the treeline.

    • Shih Tzu says:

      I guess this is the thread where we get to like the game? Because I did. Simple, effective atmospherics, if admittedly not a whole lot else. Also, the artificial pixelization is a good move, because you can tell that the simple, chunky models would (probably?) look stupid at 1680×1050. Forcing the pixel count down ensures the experience is more impressionistic and nightmarish. The latter I mean in the literal sense: just like a bad dream, you get dropped into an unpleasant situation with no backstory and vague, ill-defined surroundings. Video games!

      I’m glad I played it before actually fully reading the RPS post, though, because the first minute was the best, and half the reason was that I had no idea what was going on.

    • Davee says:

      I think the creator nailed the atmosphere pretty darn well with such low-fi stuff. And yes, “nightmarish” describes it pretty well. As for the reason of your character having to look at these plaques with words? I don’t think that matters much at all (nightmares don’t need reasons)…

    • The Tupper says:

      As Davee says, I think complaining about the game’s tasks (perhaps ‘game’ isn’t the correct term for it) is missing the point: it’s an interactive tone-piece that creates an atmosphere of dread from individual components that, together, become more than the sum of the parts.
      I was playing it with Mrs The Tupper and the two of us almost pushed out a bit of poo when the baddie jumped up. The more I think about it the more I like it.

      BTW – does anyone know of a way to invert the mouse?

    • Shih Tzu says:

      Yeah, that’s the one thing I was gonna complain about. Mouse inversion should be a mandatory feature for any first-person game.

      Still, feeling awkward at the controls does itself add to the atmosphere, I suppose.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I will never, ever know why people want to invert the mouse. In games that have an inverted mouse, I find it feels awkward, imprecise, and unnatural. But then again, I’m not used to it!

    • chackosan says:

      The first game that my cousin and I used mouselook in was a flying game (maybe Rogue Squadron) and that had inverted Y axis as standard. Makes sense for a flight game, since the yoke works somewhat similarly. Now we can’t play any mouselook game with a normal Y axis.

      Though it feels quite right with shooters, if you imagine the gun to be an extension of your hand. Pull your arm back, the mouse goes down, and the gun points upwards. Vice versa when you push your arm forward, so it sort of mimics the real-life consequence of your arm movements.

      Anyway, in a game like this, lack of inversion isn’t a problem, but any game that requires skill with aiming better have it. I remember I had problems with Y inversion on Beyond Good and Evil, which made it a royal pain to get through in some places.

  3. The Tupper says:

    I think it’s very impressive. Genuinely nightmarish.

    • n3burgener says:

      I, too, was impressed with the game. There’s a surprising level of immersion and depth to the experience, which is even more impressive considering how minimalistic and crude everything is. A lot of my satisfaction came from the internalization of everything, wondering what was going on, interpreting the signs, and filling all of the blanks in for myself.

      I wrote a much more in-depth review and analysis, examining how the different elements contribute to the thick, stifling atmosphere. If anyone’s curious to know more about the game, or if you’ve played it and want to mule some thoughts over, the link is below:

      link to thenocturnalrambler.blogspot.com

  4. DrGonzo says:

    Does anyone have a link to it which works? The one in the article isn’t working.

    EDIT- Seems to be back up now.

  5. schizopol says:

    The host is over capacity.

    Are there any backup mirrors?

  6. JackDandy says:

    I like it. Pretty damn creepy. (Air raid sirens is one of the thing that freaks me out the most)

    Only managed find 3 places… your guy really is slow!

  7. Hakkesshu says:

    I think the look of the game is genuinely awesome, but it didn’t really do anything for me otherwise.

    • KaL_YoshiKa says:

      Pretty much this, I adore the look and atmosphere of the game,

      Then you have to look at plaques with edgy words on them.

  8. Fetthesten says:

    I liked it, but I still have a few reservations. The graphics are very nice, the atmosphere is simple but effective, and there is a clear objective (at least once you’ve died, not sure it was explained to me beforehand). However, the physics are terrible, like in early Resident Evil games. My general rule of thumb is that if I (as in, the actual physical me) am more nimble and/or mobile than a humanoid game character, then the game in question is flawed. Movement is sluggish, and it falls into the trap of not providing any sort of feedback that indicates movement; beyond watching the scenery move and inferring that my character must therefore be moving, it was hard to get a sense of actually being a part of the game world. The human breathing sound effects coupled with the poorly implemented movement felt very disjointed to me.

    Which is a shame. The graphics are absolutely terrific, with the low resolution leading to the kind of “impressionistic 3D” I love in older 3D games (like Metal Gear Solid on the PSX). My mind filled in the blanks as I explored, and being a native Norwegian the sensation of walking outside alone on a snowy winter night is hardly alien to me. Also, the flashlight effect was brilliant and extremely well implemented.

    Viewed as a tech demo it’s an absolute success, then; I hope someone spins off this concept and makes a more fully-fledged game out of it.

    • Davee says:

      You just described walking through a thick layer of snow in the middle of the night (which you say know yourself. I’m not sure what you disliked about it :p). Which I think was the point in the game – and the lack of full sensory feedback (and thus lack of full control over the situation) provides that extra bit of atmosphere.

    • Tei says:

      I would have liked it more with shift to run. double tap is hard to use.

    • Fetthesten says:

      Yeah, I wasn’t too clear on that. When walking, it’s impossible to keep your head completely level at all times. The lack of head bob, along with the weird movement, made it feel more like I was controlling a robot instead of a human even though that’s clearly what was intended. Play Amnesia (or, indeed, most other first-person games) and pay attention to how the movement of your character is made to seem more natural by details such as head bob, acceleration/deceleration of rotation when turning around etc.

      I’m not saying it’s crucial that a small indie game mimics natural human movement, but I’d argue that’s one of the things a first-person game focused on atmosphere and mood needs to at least try to emulate in some way.

  9. AoM_AJER says:

    I’m not the kind of person that deals well with scares or any version of interactive horror. For example, I can’t stand to watch Amnesia for more than 10 minutes at a time.

    I had to stop as soon as I heard the sounds from the spotlight thing in the background after reaching the first plaque. Even the loud breathing seems to add so much atmosphere and depth to the game. Also is it just me, or is the spotlight a higher graphics quality than the rest of the game?

    • Fetthesten says:

      I’d guess the entire scene is rendered to a tiny texture which is then upscaled; that’s the most sensible way of doing it I could come up with without knowing anything about the game engine. In that case, the flashlight effect should be the same quality and resolution as the rest of the graphics. I didn’t notice any difference, at least.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The scene is drawn with a point-sampled 128×128 render texture as the target. That’s placed on a 16:9 plane that’s viewed by an orthographic camera. The plane is multiplicatively tinted for colour effects.

      From an author comment slightly downthread in the link.

      It’s probably more that nothing seems to have lighting except the torches on the snow. Buildings are completely untextured and unlit or something.

    • Zelnick says:

      The game is from the Unity Engine and that seems to be how it works according to what the developer said.
      Also, I found a bug; if you touch one of the plates five times then it triggers the “ending sequence” without you having to touch the others.

  10. Neuro says:

    I liked it. For something so basic it had a lot of atmosphere.

  11. Eraysor says:

    I absolutely shat myself. It’s better than Dead Space 2!

  12. Tetragrammaton says:

    I rather enjoyed that. A little scratchy, but effective nevertheless .

  13. Valvarexart says:

    I read the word rape on the church, then I heard something coming up behind me. I tried to close down the game, but for some reason ctrl+alt+delete didn’t work. I tried pressing everything on my keyboard to no avail. The guttural creature sounds were getting closer. I was just going to turn off my computer when the electricity in my house went out. I was sitting in the darkness for a few moments, and I have to admit there might be some bricks lying around under my chair now.

    • The Tupper says:

      Valvarexart – ha! Fantastic!

      I sympathise. I’m hardened to all kinds of horror movies and pride myself on being an arch rationalist/atheist but superbly realised horror in a computer game still gets to me in some kinda primal way. For example, I adored Amnesia for all of the twenty minutes I managed to play of it before dying and never reloading because it was simply too unpleasantly scary.

  14. Hybrid says:

    Very immersive once you figure out the controls. It seems there could be a great game in there if the player was given something to temporarily stun the enemies with. Really any item at all that the player could use would be a great addition. I really hope the developer continues work on this!

    • BobsLawnService says:

      I disagree. One of the few things that works iis the feeling of helplessness.

    • sexyresults says:

      Also disagree. Would loose so much of the tension by giving the player a way of fighting back. Running and hiding is perfect.

    • KenTWOu says:

      This game desperately needs better running control scheme and more places to hide from helicopter. Even non-lethal weapon ruins everything here.

  15. BobsLawnService says:

    I’m not a fan I’m afraid. As an exercise in atmosphere it kind of works but as a game it just didn’t engage me. This is something that has elements that really should be ripped of by a real game – maybe a Silent Hill or something – sparse enemy count and use of soundand helplessness especially. Maybe a POW escape game.

  16. sexyresults says:

    Spooky and atmospheric. Managed to get 3 signs and then they got me. Was quite freaky.

  17. Muzman says:

    Pretty cool. Kinda hard to figure where you can and can’t go though (I mean landscape wise). I think it would have been better if it was mostly forest. Or at least more was made out of the terrifying prospect of dashing out into the open.

    Is it me or are you supposed to hammer the forwards key to run (a bit like old athletics games)?

  18. Angryinternetman says:

    After a third attempt I got really bored with tapping the up-button rythmically. After you explained that this game is nightmarish …. I guess it has a nice atmosphere.

  19. zal says:

    oh my god this game has mouselook! they should probably mention that in the controls part… I spent like 15 minutes and 2 plays trying to run while looking STRAIGHT up. but I just thought that was how the game played.. and I thought to myself.. this is scary but I keep bumping in to things I can’t see, but maybe the enemies come from above… and then I bumped my mouse after alt tabbing out to the rps article and BAM suddenly this games a lot more playable. now to see if I like it.

    • zal says:

      the graphics don’t bother me to much, especially since as long as you keep the mouse moving and your vision shifting around it keeps a sort of discernable feel. that said, knowing that no enemies spawn until you look at the first sign takes some of the drama out of it (or if they did spawn they were very VERY ineffective since I was literally walking into the sides of trees since I couldn’t see up). good stuff.

  20. PatrickSwayze says:

    That was really neat.

    There’s a lot to be said for minimal graphics, where your brain has to actually work to fill in the blanks.

    I think that used to be half the fun with games, prior to the press A to everything generation we’re in now.

  21. Casimir's Blake says:

    My thoughts:

    Opening tutorial screen should be more specific: no mention of W S A D is made, also “tap” to run? I tried double-tapping, and repeated tapping. The latter only seems to work half the time. Making running difficult isn’t fun, making it have consequences would work but at least code reliable controls.

    It’s a touch too low-res, I feel. The aesthetic works, but 256×128 would be preferable.

    Mention mouse-look in the tutorial screen.

    Perhaps then fade that screen out, then fade in one word: “Run”

    Ultimately I like this very much. It’s doing something creative with first person gameplay, which is frantically overdue in so many ways. This and Fract have been two of the more interesting indie concept games I’ve seen in recent years.
    Make it longer!

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It seems to have stamina, so you can only repeatedly tap to run for a while.

    • KenTWOu says:

      It definitely has stamina. But anyway control scheme is horrible. It seems the better way to run is tapping W and Up arrow keys simultaneously.

  22. BatmanBaggins says:

    I can barely play this just because of that horrible gasping/sucking noise that my apparently morbidly-out-of-shape character constantly makes.

  23. Navagon says:

    It’s certainly very atmospheric. But it’s more like one of those ‘let’s see what he does next’ things rather than something that’s great unto itself. It shows potential, sure.

  24. danimalkingdom says:

    I thought it was outstanding, but i appear to be the only person here who thinks so. It was nicely executed, and restrained. It’s not going to rival amnesia any time soon but it’s a wonderful, simple little survival horror. I also played it at night with all the lights switched off (like you should play EVERY horror game) it worked a treat. Well done that man.

  25. Sif says:

    Amazing atmosphere, and some great touches (I enjoyed the sinister sub-speak coming from the enemies as they hunted for you) but there’s some visual feedback problems (had a hard time gauging distances for one) and good lord, that breathing got on my nerves. Kudos to Hide for feeling like a particularly menacing nightmare, though.