Gamers like to use acronyms, and one you might have seen is HOPA. What is a HOPA game?
HOPA stands for Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure. A HOPA game has hidden object scenes, puzzles, an inventory, and a story. When you play a HOPA game, you must find hidden objects, solve puzzles, and use items in the inventory to progress through the game.
Let’s dive deeper into what a HOPA game is, so you can decide if you’d like to give one a try.
More Details About HOPA Games
HOPA games are casual games that have an average length of 3-6 hours. In the game, you play a character who is trying to achieve some goal, such as saving an alien world, solving a mystery, or rescuing a family member.
When you begin the game, you can usually select the difficulty level, which will affect how much help you get in the game.
After choosing the level of difficulty, you’ll see a cinematic scene that introduces you to the story. After that, you’ll be in the game’s first location. A location is simply a screen that depicts a scene. A room in a house, the interior of a theatre or restaurant, and a city street are examples of locations.
At this point, there might be someone you have to talk to who will introduce you to the story’s first problem, but that isn’t always the case.
Sometimes you’ll just start exploring the location using your cursor. You’ll be able to zoom in on areas and pick up inventory items. You might also find information in the form of notes or newspaper articles that will provide more background about the events or people in the story, or information you’ll need to progress through the game, such as a lock combination or a puzzle clue.
You don’t see your character, like you do in some other types of games, but your character might be voiced and occasionally say something. You might also see your character’s hands when you’re manipulating an item, or when something makes the character raise their hands in front of their face.
In some locations you’ll encounter a hidden object scene. You’ll reach the scene by clicking on a specific area in a location. These areas usually sparkle on the lower difficulty levels. In the early days of hidden object and HOPA games, you were provided with a list of objects that you had to find in the scene. When you found an object, you’d click on it.
Hidden object scenes in recent games are more sophisticated. Sometimes you’ll be provided with a list of objects, but other times you’ll get only the shapes of the objects you need to find. Sometimes the objects you have to find are given to you in the form of riddles.
You can also encounter interactive hidden object scenes. In these scenes, some of the hidden objects you need to find can be used to manipulate areas of the hidden object scene, enabling you to find other objects. For example, one of the objects you might need to find is a wrench, and another is an apple. When you find the wrench, you then use it to remove the bolts from a panel, so that you can find the apple behind the panel.
When exploring a location, you might also come across a puzzle. Solving a puzzle usually provides you with an inventory item, but it might also open a door to another location. Puzzles in HOPA games can be quite varied, anything from matching items to solving the Tower of Hanoi puzzle to memory games. In fact, HOPA game developers are always coming up with new ways to challenge HOPA players. Some puzzles can be quite difficult and really tax your brain.
What do you do with all the items you’re adding to your inventory? They’re used to progress through the game in some way, often by leading to yet another inventory item or opening an exit to a new location.
For example, you might come across a fountain and all the water in it is frozen. You can see something in the ice, but you can’t get at it. In another location, you boil water and add it to your inventory. Then you return to the fountain, pour the boiled water on the ice to melt it, and get the item the ice contained.
Once you’ve exhausted everything you can do at a location, you can move to another location by clicking on specific areas of the location, like a doorway, a car, or a path. By moving, I mean that you click on one of the location’s exits. When you do so, the screen changes to a new location. You don’t actually move your character like you would in an adventure or role-playing game.
As you progress through a HOPA game, you’ll learn more of the story through written material like notes, from talking to other characters (which may be voiced), and by watching cinematic scenes.
Most HOPAs have in-game achievements, meaning the game itself tracks the achievements. You can view what you have by going to an achievements screen. Some of the recent games available on Steam have Steam achievements, but many don’t, so if you’re interested in achievements and you’re buying from Steam, make sure you check the store page to see if achievements are available.
How is a HOPA Game Different From an Adventure Game?
HOPA and adventure games have many commonalities, but they differ in two important ways. First, pure adventure games normally don’t have hidden object scenes. They might have one, as a type of puzzle, but most adventure games don’t have any. HOPA games always have at least a few, and usually more. In fact, a game that doesn’t have hidden object scenes isn’t a HOPA game.
The second major difference is something I mentioned earlier. You don’t see the character you’re playing in a HOPA game. In pure adventure games, you do see the character, and you can move them around a location using movement keys like WSAD, or by pointing and clicking. In HOPA games, you can only move from location to location. You can’t move your character within a location.
Also, most adventure games are longer in length than the typical HOPA game. The shorter HOPA games can be played in one sitting.
Popular HOPA Game Series
If you’re thinking that you might want to try a HOPA game, here are some popular series:
- Hidden Expedition (Eipex Entertainment) – Play a treasure hunter and travel to exotic places.
- Dark Parables (Blue Tea Games and Eipex Entertainment) – These are beautiful HOPA games based on fairy tales.
- Dark Romance (Domini Games) – Romances with vampires and other dark creatures.
- Lost Lands (Five BN) – This is one of my favourite series because it features a strong female character named Susan who travels to the lost lands and helps its inhabitants.
- Mystery Tales (Domini Game) – Travel to different areas in the world to investigate supernatural mysteries.
- Cadenza (Mad Head Games) – These games involve music in some way and are high quality. They also feature people of colour, which is rare for HOPAs.
- The Secret Order (Sunward Games) – Play a member of a secret organization and ride griffins.
- New York Mysteries (Five BN) – As you’ve probably guessed, this series is about mysteries set in New York City.
- Nightmares from the Deep (Artifex Mundi) – Grapple with pirates in this series. You can’t go wrong with anything developed by Artifex Mundi (it also publishes games by other developers).
For your first HOPA game, I’d suggest one that was released within the last few years. Recent HOPA games have features that make them less frustrating, such as a map of locations and great hint systems. They’re also more likely to be voiced and have better controls. After you’ve played a few HOPAs, if you want a real challenge, pick up a game that was released before 2012.
What about Collectors Editions?
If you’ve been curious about HOPA games and checked some out on Steam or at Big Fish Games, you might have noticed that some games have two versions: standard and collectors.
Collectors editions are more expensive and include extra features and bonus gameplay. Sometimes the bonus gameplay will be about what happened to the characters after the main game finished, or what led up to the situation that you resolved in the main game. Other times, the bonus gameplay is only loosely related to the events in the main game.
The length of the bonus gameplay can be anywhere from twenty minutes to more than an hour.
Extra features can include finding collectibles. For example, every location in the game might contain a dog that you would click on to add to the collection. Some games also feature a souvenir room, where you can go through the locations in the game and find a specific object in each location.
Completing extra features will sometimes open up additional puzzles (hidden object and otherwise) that you can complete in the extra features area.
Collectors editions can be as much as two times more expensive than the standard game, so whether to buy them is a matter of personal taste. I’m a completionist, so if a collectors edition is available, I always buy it. Also, sometimes the bonus gameplay resolves an unanswered question in the main game. For example, you might have found one family member, but another one is still missing and you find them in the bonus gameplay.
I think collectors editions tend to be overpriced, but if you wait for a sale on Steam or take advantage of the specials on Big Fish Games, you can usually get them for cheaper than their usual price.
Give a HOPA Game a Try
If you’re not sure whether HOPA games are for you, give one a try. You can pick up a standard version of a game for $5 – $7 on Steam or Big Fish Games. I enjoy a good role-playing or adventure game, but sometimes I just want to relax with a cup of tea and hunt hidden objects, solve puzzles, and experience a good story.