The Xbox 360 Indie Store has been ignored and looked down upon as a source of crap, clones, and weird non-game stuff. Buried amongst all of that crap, there are some amazing games hiding out. Hidden in Plain Sight is one of these. Split into five different mini-games, the main thread holding them together is deception and awareness. Each game is only 2-4 players locally, so this restriction means the game only works in certain circumstances, but when it does it is like no other video game experience I have played. In fact, it’s not just a great little indie game, but one of the most under appreciated games of this generation.
Hidden in Plain Sight is certainly similar to concepts in Spy Party (also Assassin’s Creed multiplayer), but it has more of a Bomberman vibe. It’s a fast paced party game that uses ideas behind Spy Party (act like an NPC) but also draws from other games like Mafia. It is also accessible for people who aren’t very familiar with video games. Each game begins with you trying to locate your character amongst a single screen of NPC’s. Once this is done you go about completing your objective, or depending on the game, attempting to murder your friends as they go about their business. The trick is you have to act like an NPC, which generally involves walking in straight lines, going in random directions, and stopping frequently. The five games are as follows.
In ninja party every sprite is the same ninja character. The objective is to touch all five statues or kill the other players. Every time a player touches a statue a sound plays alerting everyone to the event. You must time this with the wandering NPC’s so other players don’t know which one was you. If you do discover a player, you can walk up and kill them; of course doing so gives away your location. This is compensated for with the use of a single smoke bomb, allowing you to regain anonymity.
Knights vs. Ninjas
This game features two teams, knights and ninjas. The ninjas must assassinate three NPC royals while the knights have to stop them. There are no smoke bombs this time around but the ninjas do move slightly faster than the knights. This game is more about positioning before a mad dash to finish the job. The ninjas can only stun a knight while the knights will end a fool.
This is by far the crowd favorite in the groups I play with. The objective is to get from the left side of the screen to the right. Also everyone has a sniper crosshair with only one bullet. As you begin moving you have to pace yourself with frequent stopping and waiting. Anyone in front will have a crosshair on them with people talking shit. To move you just press a button for walking, and near the end you can use the run button and hope for the best (or if everyone used their bullets than you are in the clear). You can also target yourself to fake out people.
Assassin has two teams, one of snipers and the other as killers. The snipers have a crosshair with three bullets. The assassins have to rack up as many kills as possible, but the kill is only revealed when a crosshair passes over the dead NPC. A sound does play when someone is killed so it gets to be a bit frantic for the snipers. At first the screen has a large number of NPC’s but as the round draws to a close it can be difficult to find an opening to finish off the last few targets. As a side note the, when assassins get near each other their controller vibrates, which is just a small brilliant mechanic to share information between two players and not the others.
Catch a Thief
This game is a lot like assassin only you are picking up gold scattered around the screen. It is by far my least favorite.
Each game of Hidden in Plain Sight lasts but a few minutes and generally goes from
tension to release and laughter. Everyone recounts what they were doing even though everyone was looking at the same screen; they were all seeing something different. This is rare and interesting feat for a video game. It combines the hidden information and social aspects of a board game with the automated systems of a video game, and distills it into a small rare batch of fun. The moments when you deceive your friend or see through their tricks are some of the best.
Hidden in Plain Sight is currently on the 360 indie store for $1.00. It is also on Ouya and PC. At such a low price there is no reason to not check this out. Getting people together for a multiplayer video game in this day and age may be a bit anachronistic, but the experience of having your friend target you and maintaining a straight face cannot be overstated. Playing on the 360 is a proposition that will eventually be lost to time when the new systems are out and old servers are shut down. I really can’t stress enough what a brilliant little game this is. It certainly holds its place next to Bomberman, Chu Chu Rocket, and Power Stone, as a great couch multiplayer title.