Look, Intruders: Hide and Seek’s biggest fault really isn’t one of its own doing. You see, it constantly made me wish that we had gotten an official VR update for Alien: Isolation. As I hid in a cupboard in Intruders: Hide & Seek and watched one of the three goons look for me I couldn’t help but think how amazing the same thing in VR would have been in Alien: Isolation. Sorry, Intruders, it’s not you, it’s me. My heart just belongs to another.
You play as a young lad named Ben who is travelling with his mother, father and sister Irene to spend some quality time together at a rather luxurious house somewhere in the countryside. It doesn’t take very long before the mysterious intruders make their presence known, however. They break into the house and capture the parents, but Ben and his sister manage to evade the menacing trio. With Irene sick and stuck in the panic room it’s up to Ben to hopefully help save his parents and survive the night.
At first the story doesn’t really manage to engage the ol’ brain, but as the mystery unravels it turns out to be quite enjoyable fare. The three intruders are composed of a hulking man that looks related to a mountain, a hacker named Ashley and a mysterious, thin fellow who sports a rather fetching skull mask. Of the three Ashley feels the weakest, because while the other two are more connected to the story Ashley is like the awkward third-wheel.
The game manages to make finding out why the three intruders are here and how they’re connected to Ben’s dad interesting. The twists along the way can be predicted fairly easily provided you pay at least a little attention, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable
Where things fall down is the dialogue and voice work, both of which leave a lot to be desired. Irene, the mum and the dad all sound quite poor, especially Irene’s cough. The three intruders are better with the best easily being the man wearing the deer skull, but the stilted dialogue often made me wince. .
Although it may be a PS VR title there’s no Move support here, instead you’ll just be using a standard Dualshock controller to play. You can also choose between normal smooth turns or turning by chunks to help avoid potential motion sickness. With that said, this is a slow game so I think even the newest players to VR should be just fine.
There’s nothing particularly innovative going on; this is a fairly standard sneak and hide affair where you figure out patrols and occasionally jump into a cupboard. There are heaps of cheap horror games that already use this exact formula, so Intruders: Hide and Seek’s big selling point is the VR support.
I love that everything feels nicely scaled to the fact that you’re playing as Ben, so things feel quite large by comparison. It helps immerse you into the world, despite the fact that the graphics are quite poor in places. Likewise, I genuinely love how you can peer between the gaps in the door of a hiding place, or lean around a corner. VR really does lend itself well to horror games.
Graphically the game struggles a lot in terms of detail. Character faces and animations in particular look very rough, and there’s a general lack of detail within the textures. Still, the three-story house bathed in darkness does create a good atmosphere and the cliche but still effective thunderstorm outside helps. Who doesn’t enjoy sneaking through a library while lightening cracks outside the windows?
If nothing else Intruders is very good at contriving reasons to send you scurrying around the three floors of the house. Got to the laptop? Well, now you need to make your way across the entire house to discover the password, then go back again. Each time one of these new objectives pops up the three baddies will change their patrols and locations, so once again you peek around a few corners, figure the pattern out and sneak on through like a child-sized ninja.
Therein is the problem I have with Intruders: it isn’t scary and it lacks tension. As I padded through the dark interior of the house I rarely, if ever, felt like I was being properly hunted and the only times I got caught were when I was completely careless. It’s easy to slip by the patrolling goons and I only used the hiding spots three or four of times throughout the 2-3 hours it takes to complete the game.
It’s a shame because I can see the potential. When I hid in a cupboard and peeked through the gaps to catch glimpses of one of the Intruders searching for me I could almost believe for a second that I was in true danger. Wearing the PS VR headset really put me in the moment, and I think games of this style are a natural fit for the technology.
If someone does get close to you while you’re hiding then a little heartbeat monitor shows up and you have to whip the controller up and then down in time with the heartbeat to keep your breathing in check. In my first playthrough I only ever encountered this once since keeping safe is a breeze.
Intruders: Hide and Seek is a quite generous game when it comes to being spotted, too. Not only do the flash lights that the intruders wield provide plenty of warning so that you can scarper away, but it’s actually also possible to stand or even move within one of the intruder’s view without being noticed. A few times I walked around a corner only to find an intruder coming toward me and then proceeded to turn around and jog away. Clearly these house-breakers are just blind.
On the other hand there were a few times I was spotted or heard from quite a distance away. Thankfully, though, this wasn’t a common occurrence.
I think what the game is perhaps lacking is a stronger sense of urgency. I’m not a fan of time limits in most games, but Intruders: Hide and Seek is an exception. With Ben’s parents tied up in the basement and Irena hiding in the panic room it’s the perfect setup to create a sense of urgency out of. Occasionally the game attempts this, such as having to retrieve Irene’s pills, but at no point do you ever feel like you need to be fast. Irene won’t be discovered or die from not having her pills, and Ben’s parents will just chill out in the basement. Lazy sods.
Look, while I was writing this review I discovered that Alien: Isolation has a pretty good unofficial VR mod. I installed it and then spent several happy hours being terrified out of my freaking mind. With an enemy that feels like it’s always actively hunting you and a real sense of urgency the experience is heightened massively, and that’s what Intruders: Hide and Seek is missing.
However, looking at things from a different perspective something like Intruders: Hide and Seek could be well suited for players who don’t want full-on horror or constant tension, the players who just like some light fright. There’s a mild sense of danger that is largely created by the VR headset alone, and for some that might be enough.
Ultimately, while I don’t believe Intruders: Hide and Seek to be a bad game it’s also one that never managed to make me want to keep playing. I never disliked it, but at the same time actually firing it up was something I had to make myself do rather than launching some other title.
2 out of 5