Social hidden object action comes to Facebook later today

Zynga’s much-anticipated debut in the hidden object space is almost here, as Hidden Chronicles is set to launch on Facebook later today. And we had the chance to get an early, hands-off peak at the game yesterday and chat a little bit with creative director Cara Ely. Here’s everything we know so far.

As you can probably already guess, at the heart of Hidden Chronicles is a mystery. The curious circumstances of your Uncle Geoffrey’s death. You arrive at his vast manor one day only to discover that your uncle has passed away, but he’s also left behind a mystery for you to solve. And solving that mystery, of course, involves finding objects. You’ll travel to different places and unlock clues. “There’s hints of The Da Vinci Code,” Ely told Gamezebo.

The hidden object scenes in the game feel much like they do in more traditional download games. You have a list of objects to find at the bottom, a screen full of various objects to click on, and a recharging hint system (as well as additional hint tools that unlock as you progress) to help you when you’re stuck. After some scenes you’ll unlock a mini-game — such as memory or a jigsaw puzzle — and some objects require a little more work than simply clicking on the right thing. For example, an object on the list may be described as “wine for two,” which means you’ll have to drag a wine glass over to a bottle of wine to complete it. There’s no time limit and you’re given a score after completing each scene.

All pretty standard stuff. But where Hidden Chronicles attempts to differentiate itself is with its social features. And key to this is the manor itself. “Having a home base is important,” Ely explained, and the manor serves as just that. You can add decorations and customize the space how you see fit, but there’s also a hint of exploration. Just like in CastleVille, the areas around the manor are covered in shadows, and as you open up new areas you’ll come across new mysteries complete with new story elements and hidden object scenes.

And, of course, you can also play with your friends. You can visit each other’s manors and leave hidden packages to be found, but much more interesting is what’s called Fast Find. Sort of like Bejeweled Blitz for hidden object games, this feature tasks you with finding as many objects in a scene as you can in just 60 seconds. You can then challenge friends to beat your score, creating a nice back-and-forth, asynchronous experience.

While the game can be played as a single-player experience, Ely told Gamezebo that it’s being designed as a “social HOG at its core,” meaning that it’s going to be “more fun socially.”

You’ll be able to find out for yourselves very soon, as Hidden Chronicles launches on Facebook later today.

Zynga launches a trailer and mini-game for Hidden Chronicles

We’ve seen some still art and learned a few small details, but now we can finally see Hidden Chronicles in action. Zynga’s debut hidden object game now has a trailer, and the developer has also released a few mini-games to help increase the anticipation.

The trailer gives a brief taste of the world the game takes place in, and it looks as though your adventure will span not only the globe but also time itself. And in addition to the standard hidden object finding action, it also appears as though there are some puzzles and other mini-games to help break up the action.

If you head on over to the Hidden Chronicles Facebook page and “Like” it, you’ll also be able to unlock a mini-game to play. So far only one of these games has been unlocked, but two more will be available once the page receives enough likes. Zynga tells us that these games aren’t representative of the actual gameplay to be found in Hidden Chronicles, but instead are a way to introduce the concept of a HOG to new players.

And just in time for the holidays, you can also use the Facebook page to create your own customized Hidden Chronicles holiday card to send to friends.

No release date has been announced for Hidden Chronicles. Stay tuned to Gamezebo for further updates.

Zynga shows off some art from its debut HOG Hidden Chronicles

Zynga’s upcoming hidden object game Hidden Chronicles was announced back in October, but since then we haven’t heard much about the developer’s very first HOG. Story and gameplay details are virtually non-existent, but at the very least we now have some idea of what the game will look like. Over at the Hidden Chronicles Facebook page Zynga has slowly been revealing pieces of art that show off some of the various locations in the game.

From the looks of it, Hidden Chronicles will offer up relatively standard HOG visuals and locations. The images released so far show off everything from messy rooms to busy streets to a lively ocean floor. All great locations to hide objects, all locations that we’ve seen in HOGs before.

Hidden Chronicles

Hidden Chronicles

Hidden Chronicles

Hidden Chronicles

Of course, a lack of originality isn’t always a bad thing. In terms of its HOG play, Playdom’s Gardens of Time is rather generic as well and it has more than 10 million monthly active users. No release date has been announced for Hidden Chronicles yet. It’s simply listed as “coming soon.”