Hidden World takes the resource management genre in new directions
The resource management genre that emerged with the My Kingdom for the Princess series seems to be going through the same expansions as the building sim genre did after the success of Build-a-lot. Hidden World, a new release by Alawar, bears a striking resemblance to the aforementioned role model, but succeeds in creating a unique world while convincing with a general quicker and more engaging pace than we are used to in this genre.
Hidden World features 48 regular levels spread over four different worlds. You are also able to unlock a bonus level in each world, which makes for 52 levels altogether and provides roughly five hours playing time. Furthermore players are able to choose between timed and untimed mode. The storyline itself is rather overused, an evil wizard destroys and threatens a peaceful fairy tale-like country, and of course the player has to clean it up. However, the graphics are pretty charming and the narrative sequences in between specific levels are rather interesting and at least without grave mistakes.
Basically Hidden World feels pretty similar to My Kingdom for the Princess and the like in the beginning. Obstacles such as logs and rocks have to be removed from the road to advance, sawmills, farms and mines can be built to supply you with wood, food and gold, while new houses will increase the number of workers. You are certainly also able to upgrade any building to increase its productivity, given that you have enough resources and workers.
Apart from these core aspects, however, Hidden World feels pretty different from its genre colleagues in that its pace can be compared to frantic games such as Jack of all Tribes. This is pretty much due to two small but highly significant changes: you do not have to wait until workers return to the headquarter to assign them new tasks and you are able to accelerate their task by clicking the related object or building. As a consequence you will always be busy, which resolves an issue that most other titles of this genre suffer from.
Most of the levels are structured in a similar way – you have one or two main tasks and bonus tasks. The first you have to fulfill to advance, the latter ones will reward you with magic lamps which will melt different parts of the castle, a feature that is nice to look at and a good motivation to finish all tasks within the given time. Controls are pretty intuitive and the graphics are bright and colorful, furthermore very fitting to the setting.
Most of the times there will be portals in each level that enable clones of the evil wizard to appear. Those clones will then try to freeze your buildings, which can be avoided by clicking the wizard repeatedly. From time to time a small dragon will fly through the scenery and will, you guess it, drop bonuses or helpful items when clicked successfully. Those items can be used to complete collections which will in turn enable your buildings to produce quicker and more resources, speed up your workers or weaken the wizard. All in all Hidden World is filled with a lot of those unexpected and rewarding features, which makes for a fulfilling playing experience.
The major downside of Hidden World is the fact that levels begin to feel slightly repetitive later on. While there are new buildings, bonus tasks and small surprises in the first two worlds, levels in the last two worlds are very similar, just because you nearly always have to destroy one or two wizard’s portals and construct exactly the same buildings. The quick pace and the desire to upgrade and collect everything possible indeed prevent the game from getting boring and stale, but more goals, buildings and challenges would have been welcome nonetheless.
Altogether Hidden World definitely is a strong entry into this genre and will especially entertain players who expect a quicker pace and dislike the inevitable breaks while playing other games of the resource management genre. Whether you like the fantasy setting or not, if you are a fan of this genre you are in for a treat with this game.