Hidden Object Games Without Stories

A hidden object scene

When it comes to “casual” games (which I always put in quotes because I don’t believe in the divide between casual and “real” games), HOPA games are all the rage. But what if you’re in the mood for a pure hidden object game (HOG)? What if you don’t want a story, an inventory, and complex puzzles? Then this post is for you.

One thing to know: Most pure HOGs also include mini games. Typically you’ll do a HOG or three, then complete a mini game, then do another HOG. These mini games are simpler than the ones you’ll typically find in HOPAs. They don’t strain your brain much.

Without further ado…

Hidden Object Games Without Stories

Anything by Casual Arts: Casual Arts excels at hidden object games without stories. Its two main series are Vacation Adventures: Park Ranger and Vacation Adventures: Cruise Director. It also releases holiday-themed games. At the appropriate times of the year, I play its Christmas Wonderland, Easter Eggztravaganza, and Halloween Trick or Treat series. The same characters pop up (literally) in the games, but there isn’t really a story. You’ll spend most of your time hunting for hidden objects that are punctuated by simple mini games.

A hidden object scene from Vacation Adventures: Cruise Director 6

Big City Adventure: This series by Jolly Bear Games takes you to famous cities around the world. You’ll hunt for hidden objects at each location, and learn a bit about each city, too. The first game takes you to San Francisco, and the latest game (number fourteen in the series) whisks you to Moscow.

Clutter: In the Clutter series, you’ll spend your time decluttering by hunting hidden objects. This isn’t your typical HOG. The objects aren’t hidden in scenes. Instead, there’s a jumble of them on the screen, and it’s up to you to clean them up. Each level is randomly generated, so the game has a lot of replayability. There are also mini games.

Shopping Clutter: Though it shares the word “Clutter” with the Clutter series, Shopping Clutter comes from a different developer. But it’s a similar type of HOG to Clutter. There are Christmas and Thanksgiving themed games, if you’re in the mood for those.

100% Hidden Objects: This is a single game and is exactly what the title says. No story. No inventory. No mini games. Just hidden objects. You can choose timed mode for a challenge, or go with relaxed mode and find the objects at your own pace.

A hidden object scene from 100% Hidden Objects
A scene from 100% Hidden Objects

Hidden World of Art: In this series, you’ll restore classic paintings by finding hidden objects. These are real classic paintings, so you’ll become very familiar with paintings by the masters. If you enjoy art, you’ll want to check this series out.

Pure Hidden: This game offers exactly what its title states. It’s a pure HOG, and there’s quite a variety of graphical styles across the HOG scenes. I haven’t played this one yet, but it’s on my “to-buy” list. It’s rated highly at Big Fish Games.

Scrapbook Paige: If you enjoy scrapbooking, this game is for you. If you’ve never tried scrapbooking, you’ll get a taste of it. You search a store for materials and then you can design scrapbook pages. If you’re up for a challenge, you can try speed rounds. It’s quite an easy game, so tweens or young adults might get the most out of it, but sometimes we adults just want to relax, and this would be a great game to play when that feeling hits.

Hidden Folks: This is a different type of HOG. You search for people in hand-drawn scenes, sort of like a “Where’s Waldo?” scene. The scenes are quite large. You have to move/zoom around them to find everything. I’ll admit that I have this game but didn’t finish it. It didn’t grab me. But gamers are different, so it might be right up your alley. It’s available on Steam, but not at Big Fish Games.

Anything by Crisp App Studio: Crisp App only releases HOGs (so far). It has more than ten games available at Steam that have a variety of themes, often based on classic stories like Around the World in 80 Days and Sherlock Holmes. You’ll hunt for hidden objects and solve mini games. I have a few Crisp App games and find its hidden object scenes quite challenging.

Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders: Set in Japan, you have to solve your husband’s murder. In that sense, it has a story, but in the form of the objects you find and a detective popping up every once in a while to speak to you. This is the first HOG I ever played (see below). This one is available at Steam, but not at Big Fish Games.

A hidden object scene from Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders
A scene from Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders.

One Word of Caution

HOPAs rule the hidden object world today, so many pure HOGs are older games. I haven’t had a problem running the ones at Steam, but occasionally I’ll buy an older game at Big Fish Games and have problems running it.

If you’re interested in a game that was released before 2013, download the demo before you buy, to make sure you’ll be able to play the game. All games available at Big Fish Games have a trial version that let you play part of the game.

My First Hidden Object Game Without a Story

It was a HOG that turned me on to HOGs and HOPAs in the first place. Before then, I’d stumbled across the odd hidden object scene in adventure games, but somehow, despite gaming for over thirty-five years at that point, I wasn’t aware that a whole HOG and HOPA genre existed.

When Steam had a sale (and they used to be really good in that you could get a lot of games for deep discounts like 85%), I’d pick up games that I might not try otherwise. If they were only $5, why not? I can name a few games that I loved that I never would have tried if not for them being deeply discounted.

The game Season of Mystery: The Cherry Blossom Murders must have appeared in my browse queue, or it somehow caught my eye on the front store page. I’m pretty sure I didn’t realize it was a hidden object game, so I bought it. And when I played it, I loved it. Since then, I’ve played over a hundred HOGs and HOPAs and will likely play them until I turn off my gaming machine for the last time.

Final Word

If you’re in the mood for a hidden object game that doesn’t have a story, try one of the HOGs I’ve listed. This isn’t a complete list. I’m sure there are more pure hidden object games without a story. But this list will get you started.

If you know of another pure HOG, let me know. I recently added a “Part 2” post that contains even more suggestions for hidden object games without stories. As I say in the post, there are more games of this type being released now. You can check out part two here:

More Hidden Object Games Without Stories

Happy hidden object hunting!

16 thoughts on “Hidden Object Games Without Stories”

  1. Very useful post thank you very much. I love HOG games but hate IHOG and that’s all you find nowadays. You made me discover Casual Arts series I hadn’t heard about, thank you !!

    1. I’m glad you found the Casual Arts games. I recently played Park Ranger 10. I love their games because I know exactly what I’ll get. I also like HOPAs (same as IHOGs, I believe), but I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. POGO was the one site that I loved because it Literally went all around the world with NO stories and I actually learned a lot along with playing the game that I love. They had a bunch of (countries) to pick from and when you were done, you could go back and they would have more options! It was awesome!!! Then all of the sudden someone either bought them out or they just ….. I dunno…. my password wasn’t working anymore and the HOG’s dropped down from like 50 to 15 available games. I had already paid for my membership and I was pissed!!!! then all of the sudden, I had (the 15) HOGs that I was totally not interested in. Also, I had a bunch of other POGO Games that I loved playing too so…….

    1. That’s too bad about POGO. I’ve never bought HOGs there or subscribed. I usually buy mine at Big Fish or Steam.

  3. Im searching for a game that has a lot of various puzzle games without the story and no hidden objects. I love playing those mystery Big Fish games mainly because of the different puzzles in the game. If only they made a game with just all those puzzles

    1. I don’t know of any, but that’s because I haven’t looked. I’m the opposite. I enjoy the puzzles, but I could do without most of them (and since I play a lot of HOGs, I’m familiar with most of the puzzles now because the same ones keep coming up). I know some collector’s editions have a puzzles section in the “Extras” but I think it just lets you replay the puzzles in the game. Still, if you haven’t played a game for a while, you might have forgotten the solutions.

      If you come across a puzzle-only game, let me know.

  4. Hello Sarah, Great info on HOGs. Thank you very much. They are my favorite type of PC game, however, when I visit a game site it’s very difficult, if not almost impossible, to distinguish a “true” HOG from a HOPA game. Also, most of the time the descriptions of the game do not say what “Display Resolution” is required for the game. I like to keep my resolution at 1920 x 1080 but so many of these HOGs require a much lower resolution. Do you think that’s because they are fairly old HOGs before the higher resolutions became vogue?

    1. Glad you found the article useful, Gary. It can be difficult to find “true” HOGs, though lately I’ve noticed that the descriptions will say something like, “No puzzles” or “Just a good old-fashioned hidden object game.” I’ve also noticed a bit of a resurgence of pure HOGs, at least at Big Fish Games. I have a few more games to add to the article once I’ve played them to see if they’re decent.

      I also keep my resolution at 1920 x 1080. I think older games often require a lower resolution because not as many gamers had high resolution monitors 10 years ago. Now it’s commonplace. But as you mentioned, some older games don’t look all that great at higher resolutions. I’ve noticed that some have a “wide screen” setting that stretches things out a bit, which helps. But sometimes the objects are just too tiny to be found at high resolution. I’ve become a little wary of buying games that are more than five years old for that very reason.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Great information! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I purchased Season of Mystery: the Cherry Blossom Murders and it is exactly what I was looking for! I so appreciate the recommendations and explanations of the game genres. 🙂

  6. Your article was so informative and helpful! I am very interested in HOGs without any story line and have become frustrated trying to find them. I am going to check out all the ones you mentioned to “get my game on”.

    1. I hope you enjoy whatever games you end up playing! Make sure to check out the second post I wrote that suggests even more HOGs without stories (linked to at the end of this post).

  7. I found this list to be informative. I am looking for HOG’s with no timer for my Husband. He would like to play but he has a Traumatic Brain Injury and a timed game would be too much for him. I think HOG’s would be a great cognitive exercise for anyone who is trying to improve brain function, however there seem to be very few that are not timed.

    1. In my experience, most HOGs aren’t timed, or they offer a relaxed mode (which isn’t timed). Sometimes you have to check the game settings for a relaxed mode, or the game will ask you at the beginning which mode you want.

      You’re safe with all the CasualArts games. None of them are timed. For the others, read the game description and reviews at BigFish. Usually at least one of them will mention what modes are available. I hope HOGs turn out to be a good brain workout for your husband.

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