Well, it’s Halloween — or at least it was yesterday — and so I thought it would be appropriate to tackle something more seasonal for this week’s Try-It Tuesday. Plus, I got shoehorned into doing a Twitch stream with MOP’s MJ in which she beat me six ways from Sunday, so I might as well dig out a post from all of that pain.
The game this week is Hide and Shriek, Funcom’s strange 1v1 scarefest. It’s a small game, one that’s definitely going to have limited appeal after the holiday considering its strong tie to Halloween, but the low price and the novelty of it certainly roped in some attention.
Hide and Shriek is not quite like any game I’ve played before, even PvP ones. The whole action takes place in Little Springs High School (go Jackalopes!) — only four classrooms plus one hallway of the school, to be specific. Two players are made invisible and go about laying traps for each other while attempting to pick up orbs and return them to their teleporting altars. It’s a points-based game, so you’re trying to rack up a high score for orb return, tricking the other player, and screaming at them (a special, long-cooldown action that is tricky to do due to the other’s invisibility). Get the high score after 10 minutes or perform a string of three screams in a row, and you win.
I do not win this a lot.
The game mechanics are, for the most part, interesting. Every game is defined by five random runes out of 20 or so, and these runes and their combinations can really change the strategy for a given game. There are lightning traps, runes that teleport you across a distance, traps to send the other player into what I call the “Bubblegum Dimension,” scare traps, decoys, and so on. You can sometimes fuse two or three runes together to make advanced traps, but you can only hold one set of runes at a time until you use them. Also, you can trigger your own traps, so you need to remember where you put stuff.
Not being able to see the other player (unless you use certain runes or see them carry an orb) is somewhat disconcerting but makes the whole thing work. Despite what I first feared, Hide and Shriek isn’t really that scary of a game. I’m not a big one for the jump scare graphic when your foe manages to successfully scream you, but for the most part very little is frightening. Even the school itself is relatively well-lit, vibrant, and fun to explore. The environmental details and art of these classrooms is really well-done, especially the science room with the teleporter, glowing handprints, and desks floating about in the air.
Speaking of which, as a Secret World player, I’m fascinated to unravel what Funcom has created in this TSW spin-off. You can find story pages (journal entries) that fill in some of the lore. What I found so far in these stories and from looking at the rooms is that this takes place in 1991 in an Arizona high school that is a magic-school contemporary of Innsmouth Academy (which is its East Coast rival). There are pictures and busts of some of the monsters from TSW, mentions of Montag (the Innsmouth Academy headmaster), discussions of training up warlocks, and some Orochi products. I’m going to have to scrounge up a full list of all of the grimoire entries if someone takes the time to write them down.
I’m very curious why this is set in a high school in 1991 and if Funcom will be addressing this more in The Secret World at some point. Did something happen here? Something with the teleporter or the plant-growth? Inquiring minds want to know. Also, if there’s time travel involved, I wouldn’t complain.
I wasn’t the best Hide and Shriek player — too easily distracted, too prone to turtle up in a room, trap the doors, and twiddle my thumbs — but it was an interesting diversion for an evening or two. I think the $5 price tag was appropriate for what’s being offered here, and considering how weird and scattered the TSW Samhain event is this year, Hide and Shriek might well be the “real” Halloween content.