Big Fish Games, a popular site for buying “casual” games, has hundreds, perhaps over a thousand, hidden object and HOPA games. Some are great; others are stinkers. The best games will be a matter of opinion, but here’s a list of games I’ve enjoyed and would recommend.
1. Anything by Casual Arts
If you want a pure hidden object game, meaning that most of the game is comprised of hidden object scenes, you can’t go wrong with any game from Casual Arts. Start with the Vacation Adventures: Park Ranger or Vacation Adventures: Cruise Director series. Like all Casual Arts games, you’ll find hidden objects and solve simple puzzles (matching pairs, jigsaw puzzles, find the differences, etc.).
In addition to the usual hidden object list, in each scene you’ll look for a smaller set of lost and found objects. You’ll also search for and clean up trash, things like empty soda bottles and pizza boxes, to help clean up the park or cruise ship.
Some hidden objects are straightforward to find. Others involve clicking on something to reveal an object. For example, you might have to click on a bag to find a cruise ticket.
There are also items that require you to find an object and drag it onto another. Let’s say the hidden object is in the list as “give the ranger her hat.” To “find” the object, you’ll have to find the hat and drag it onto the ranger’s head.
You really can’t go wrong with any games from Casual Arts. I have them all and buy every new game as soon as it’s released.
2. King’s Heir: Rise to the Throne
This is one of the rare HOPA games that isn’t part of a series (if you don’t know what a HOPA game is, check out my What is a HOPA Game post). Cordelia, the game’s developer, doesn’t have many games out yet, but I like what I’ve seen.
In King’s Heir, you play one of two brothers accused of murdering the king. You’re on the run, trying to prove your innocence. The game is slick and features great voice acting. I find that the stories in HOPAs can sometimes be convoluted and difficult to follow, but not in King’s Heir: Rise to the Throne.
3. Dark Parables
The Dark Parables series was started by develop Blue Tea games, and then taken over by Eipix Entertainment. Every game in the series is based on a fairy tale. For example, Curse of the Briar Rose, the first game in the series, is based on Sleeping Beauty.
A hallmark of the Dark Parables games is the beautiful art with its colourful tones. Also, all the hidden object scenes involve finding fragments of a hidden item, rather than a list of hidden items. For example, if the item you’ll get from the hidden object scene is a magic wand, then pieces of the magic wand will be scattered throughout the scene. Once you’ve found them all, you’ll receive the wand for your inventory.
You can’t go wrong with any game in the series, but I’d play them in order, because some characters recur, meaning that a character you helped in one game will appear in a later game.
4. Final Cut
If you’re a movie buff, you’ll enjoy the Final Cut series by Eipix Entertainment. There are six games in the series, which is now complete. Every game is about movies in some way.
Start with Death on the Silver Screen, the first game in the series. You play the same character in every game, and the story in later games will sometimes reference what happened in an earlier game.
Eipix Entertainment is one of the more prolific developers and has lots of games and series available, so if you enjoy this series, there will more great games from Eipix to choose from.
5. Lost Lands
Lost Lands, by Five BN Games, is on this list for a couple of reasons. First, you play a wonderful strong female protagonist named Susan who travels to the Lost Lands to help its residents. Susan is voiced, and she’s featured in many cut scenes where you actually see her. This is different from most HOPAs, where you might hear the character you’re playing, but you never see them.
Second, every hidden object scene in Lost Lands is an interactive scene. In other words, you don’t hunt for a list of objects that you can just click on. Instead, you’ll see the shapes of the objects you need to find. But it’s still not that simple. You’ll be able to find one or two objects immediately, but then you have to use them to find the other objects
For example, let’s say two of the shapes you have to find are a ring and a key. You can see the key right away, so you click on it. Then you use the key to unlock a jewelry box to get the ring inside. Then perhaps you use the diamond on the ring to cut through glass to get another object you need. You continue like this until you’ve found the inventory object you’ll receive from the hidden object scene.
Start with Dark Overlord, the first game in the series. Like other series, the stories sometimes refer back to events in earlier games.
I love the Enigmatis series by Artifex Mundi because of its story. It has one of the more interesting stories in a hidden object series. I can’t get into specifics without spoiling the story for you. I’ll just say that in this series you’ll solve a mystery and grapple with an ancient evil.
Games developed by Artifex Mundi are usually solid, with great artwork and voice acting, and this series is no exception.
If you want to play a detective and like games that are dark/eerie in tone, try Enigmatis. Start with The Ghosts of Maple Creek, because events from one game lead into the events of the next game. If you don’t start with the first game, you won’t get as much from the series.
7. Living Legends
Living Legends by 4Friends Games is another great series. Unlike other series, you don’t play the same character in every game, so it’s not as important to start with Ice Rose the first game in the series. But I always like to play a series in order.
Like the Dark Parables series, the stories are based on fairy tales and the games feature gorgeous artwork. You can’t go wrong with this series.
8. Reflections of Life
In the Reflections of Life series by GrandMA Studios, you play a modern woman who believes she’s an orphan, but then her uncle arrives through a mirror and tells her that her parents are still alive but live in a different world. And they’re in danger, to boot. Of course, you embark on a quest to save your parents.
You play the same character in every game, so it’s best to start with Tree of Dreams, so that you’re with your character from the start. I love the artwork in this series, and the story is always engaging.
This is another fantasy game series, so if you enjoy fantasy stories, check this one out.
Phantasmat is another series by Eipix Entertainment. I’ve included it because I enjoy playing it and it’s a horror series. So this one’s for you if you’re a horror fan.
In the earlier games, you help spirits who are bound to this world because of the role they played in some horrific even that happened in the past. I say “earlier games” because I haven’t finished playing this series yet, so I don’t know if the same holds true through the entire series. I’ve finished the first four games and will soon play the fifth.
The tone is dark, and there are definitely some scary moments. Start with the simply-titled Phantasmat, which is the first game in the series.
I’ve only scratched the surface of games I’ve played and enjoyed. I could have listed tens of recommendations, but I wanted to give you a solid list to get you started. In the future, I might write another recommendation post so some of my other favourites aren’t overlooked.