BOO!  Bet you didn’t see me there.  That’s because I was hidden.  Like an object.  Possibly in a game.  Huh… hidden object game.  That’s got a nice ring to it.  I think I might be on to something here.  Mortimer, fetch me my pen!

Oh alright, so I’m not the guy who came up with the idea for hidden object games.  But just because I didn’t invent the genre doesn’t mean I don’t know how to spot a winner when I see one.  2012 was a banner year for the hidden object genre, with too many top games to count.  With that in mind, we’ve sorted through the best of the best.  So without further ado, here are our picks for the Best Hidden Object Games of 2012;

 

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#5 – Dark Parables: The Red Riding Hood Sisters (PC, Mac)

Like spooky houses and missing relatives, fairy tales are a pretty common muse of the hidden object scene.  But while plenty of classic stories have served as inspiration for designers over the last year, none have managed to impress as much as Blue Tea Games’ Dark Parables: The Red Riding Hood Sisters – and anyone who’s played any of the past games in the series would know why.  Jaw-dropping visuals, an original story (this Red Riding Hood tale involves a secret society and ‘mist wolves’), plenty of animation – it’s enough to make the Brothers Grimm stand up and take notice.

 

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#4 – Grim Tales: The Wishes (PC, Mac)

If you follow game developers like you might authors or directors, then you know an Elephant Games’ release had to appear somewhere on this list.  Grim Tales: The Wishes offers up all of the polish and quality that the studio is known for, and it combines it with unique locations for hidden object scenes, varying objectives, and a storyline that never fails to surprise.  Also, it’s about a little boy who mysteriously gets old long before his time – how could you not be intrigued after hearing a setup like that?

 

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#3 – Otherworld: Spring of Shadows (PC, Mac, iPad)

Hidden object games tend to live and die by their art.  Luckily Otherworld: Spring of Shadows is, in a word, stunning.  And we’re not just talking about the quality of the art – we’re also talking about the smart choices they’ve made with it.  The use of color, the balance between light and dark – it’s all perfect fit for the story and environments within.  Other elements of the game – from the tale itself to the soundtrack – manage to live up to the lofty bar set by the art, making this one of our favorite games of 2012.  

 

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#2 – Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix (PC, Mac)

Tired of haunted houses and abandoned towns in your hidden object games?  So are we.  That’s why ERS Game Studios’ Song of the Phoenix was such a breath of fresh air.  Set in a fantasy world of dragons, sorcerers and kings, Song of the Phoenix serves as a textbook example of why ERS Game Studio are considered one of the best studios working in hidden object games today: great puzzles, great art, and a focus on making even the littlest things perfect. ERS have released a bunch of games in 2012, but Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix stands head and shoulders above the rest.

 

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#1 – Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can (PC, Mac)

It’s not often that we see a hidden object game break out from some fairly typical molds, but Angelica Weaver’s debut is the kind of game that sets a new standard and raises the bar for every hidden object game that follows.  How?  With a fantastic story, a believable lead character, and gameplay that makes sense to both. 

In Catch Me When You Can, hidden object scenes aren’t just random occurrences – they take place in the context of the story.  Everything feels like it serves the bigger picture.

Building on the 100% commitment to narrative are some terrific gameplay elements, from styles of puzzle that you’ve never seen in hidden object adventures before to fantastic production values featuring 3D models and top notch voice acting.  If you only get to play one hidden object game in 2012, Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can should be it.

With another year come and gone, Gamezebo is looking back at the best games that 2012 had to offer. Our month-long retrospective will touch on just about every type of game you can imagine – so be sure not to miss any of it! Check out our full collection of Best of 2012 articles, and vote for your favorite games in our 2012 Reader’s Choice awards.