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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and I’ll add it to my post.
Happy hidden object hunting!