Hidden Lands Review

Hidden Lands is a free spot-the-difference game featuring 3D floating islands.

Format: PC via Steam
Play time so far: 4.5 hours

Hidden Lands. Snowy level with 9 differences

Released Jan 28th, 2021 by Avix Games

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Quick Overview

Major Pros:
  • Simple and straight forward
  • Free
Major Cons:
  • Repetitive
Minor Pros:
  • Good amount of gameplay
Minor Cons:
  • Scene elements are sometimes disjointed
Hidden Lands. Collection view showing the sacred wisdom peach from the land of emperors

Viewing an item in the collection

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In-Depth Review

Hidden Lands is a free spot-the-difference game. Players are presented with small scenes on pairs of floating islands and tasked to find the differences between them. The number of differences is tallied at the top of the screen. Islands can be rotated together and the camera moved up and down to see all around the islands. Level progression is done in a branching pattern with new objects only being used in their own branch and the branches that follow them. In each level, there’s a new object to collect, providing a short blurb about it in the collection menu. The three major branches of level are themed after Japanese shrines, Egyptian temples, and medieval Europe.

Hidden Lands. The main map featuring a branching level system out from the center

Main map, Japanese temple branch

The biggest struggle of Hidden Lands is how repetitive the levels can become. Many general elements are reused between levels, such as trees, rocks, flowers, etc. With more experience, the player learns which parts of these items can be missing. This issue also extends to the more frequently used collection items as well, at least within the level branches that follow them. This significantly decreases the difficulty of the levels and discourages the player from playing too much at once so they can forget the patterns they’re learning.

Hidden Lands. Forest level with 9 differences

Notice the two trees on the left that differ in exactly the same way

For some players, the levels will also feel disjointed due to their composition. For example, most people would find snow and evergreen trees in arid shrubland or a saguaro cactus beside a Japanese temple to be usual. This sort of thing is quite common making the levels feel strangely auto-generated even though they aren’t (there is a mode for that though). I feel like there’s a missed opportunity here to create a story with the small scenes and new items.

Hidden Lands. Arid level with 9 differences

Torii gates and dragon sculptures seem out of place beside cactus

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Recommendation

Overall, I found Hidden Lands to be a decent casual game to fill time. The premise is simple and easy to execute, but it becomes repetitive and the scenes are pretty random. For a free game, it has a surprising amount of gameplay. The main levels would probably take about 6 hours to complete and then there’s an endless mode. I recommend Hidden Lands for players looking for a simple timewaster that can be played in short bursts.

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