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AR Hide and Seek Virtual City Review (ARKit)

Yesterday I came across a really nice game that I want to share with you. It’s an AR hide n’ seek game called AR Hide and Seek Virtual City. When I first heard about AR this idea popped out and I wonder how developers will actually be able to create such game.

I knew it can be a great 2-player (or more) game where one person hides something and the other player need to find it. A second idea was that it can be designed for a single player and the game hides objects in your house. Even better, have a character running around the place to find a hiding spot.

The thing is that you have to scan the entire area first. Even then, ARKit can only detect flat surfaces, so I can it hides something behind another thing. Even with Google Tango, there is no sampling of the behind area unless the entire area side is scanned. I saw a demonstration how this can be achieved in Tango, but ARKit doesn’t employ the same sophisticated depth-sensing sensors that Tango has.

How to Play AR Hide and Seek?

AR Hide and Seek Virtual City tackles this in another way, a more simple and less challenging way. The developer created a large and very detailed 3D city. You can play it in three different sizes depends on the space that you have. The map stays the same, it’s just its size changes.

AR Hide and Seek game screenshot
Can you find where the object is located? It took me some time to find this one and it was just sitting there in the parking lot the whole time, sneaky 🙂

In the single-player mode, the game hides an object somewhere in the city and let you look for it. Once you find it, it asks you to find the next object and so on.The objects appear very small on the map and because the map is very detailed and big, it’s hard to locate the object.

In the first tries, it took me sometimes like 2 to 3 minutes to find an object. I first tried it without the proximity sensor’s help. With the proximity sensor, it’s easier to locate the object. The proximity sensor is a helper feature. It beeps faster the closer you get to the object. I don’t think this feature break the game or anything, it just makes it easier and you can always decide not to use it, it’s up to you. By the way, the object will be flashing on the map so you can recognize it once you see it. I think that developer should add a section in the settings to enable or disable certain features. For example, I would put the option to disable or enable the flashing object option and offer the user to disable the proximity sensor.

Let’s take a look at a gameplay video to give you a sense how this game plays in practice.

If you are playing two people, you know if someone is using the proximity sensor because it makes quite an annoying voice.

It’s worth mentioning that you can’t use the proximity sensor constantly for a long period of time. Once you press it and start using it, there is a meter that goes down. If it’s depleted, you need to wait for it to charge up to start using it again.

Large and detailed 3D city
A large and detailed 3D city as you can see, no get close and try to find the hidden object.

The two-player game mode is really fun. One guy needs to hide an object anywhere in the scene and the other player needs to locate it. There isn’t any rewarding system though for some reason. Once the other guy finds the object, the game resets and you start the same session all over again. There is no time limit for finding the object.

Furthermore, the two-player game mode was designed to be played with the same device, you can’t play it locally with two separate devices like with two iPhones. I think this can actually be a good idea enabling the multiplayer mode work locally on two devices. The developer just needs to synchronize the location of the city over the web between the two sessions.

Game Limitations

I think it’s worth mentioning that although the game is free to play, it poses some limitations that you should be aware of. The single-player mode is limited to certain amount of objects. You need to buy the “Unlock All Objects” in the cart menu. The two-player game mode is also very limited and allows only 5 turns to be played. If you want to play more, you need to buy the “Two Player Mode” from the cart menu. There is also an “Unlimited Battery Level” purchase option, but who wants to do this.

AR Experience

As I mentioned before, the game’s level is quite large and you I didn’t find any way to resize the map. I think the developer did it on purpose so you won’t be able to detect the objects so easily and need to traverse the terrain to find it.

Finding ladder object in an AR hide and seek game
This one was a tough cookie. The ladder was small and you can easily miss it out even if you pass it. You also need to be at a certain angle to see it.

I also wasn’t able to stick the level on the floor, it was always like waste-level high, sometimes higher. I have no idea why, but maybe again, to make it harder for players to locate the objects.  I don’t know if this was the attention of the developer, but I felt very comfortable playing this game because I didn’t need to break my neck and look down all the time. Also, it feels nice being able to walk through the terrain at a low angle that otherwise when on the floor it would be much less convenient.

Very detailed city level in AR Hide and Seek iOS game
Very detailed map as you can see. I enjoyed crouching a bit and traversing through it.

That thing aside, the gameplay in AR felt really satisfying. I felt excited when it was my turn to find the object. We’ve decided to not use the proximity sensor’s help. Therefore it was very exciting moving around the city and checking every corner to see where your friend hid the object.

One thing that annoyed me is that the game was quite jittery and not always stick to the same area. Sometimes I moved in the city and it just moves forward with me. Furthermore, when you play the multiplayer mode after you put the object and hand over the device to your friend, there is almost always a need to recalibrate the city’s location. The good news is that there is a recalibrate city button at the top of the screen which you can use it to quickly set the city’s location to a comfortable location.

AR Hide and Seek is not the first Hide n’ Seek ARKit game I played. I also played ARrrrrgh game which takes a completely different approach. It’s a 2-player local multiplayer game. The first player hides the treasure chest somewhere in the room underneath the floor and the other player needs to locate it by digging it out. It’s a really innovative and cool idea that plays great in AR. There are many ways to approach this type of game.

Visuals & Sound

The city map looks really nice with tons of details to make it harder for you to find the object. There are many tall buildings and lots of blind spots where you can put the object and make your friend break his head trying to find it. I always had a smile on my face when it was his turn. I knew he is going to have a hard time finding it without the help of the proximity sensor.

AR Hide and Seek Virtual City lacks a background music. The game felt a bit stale and boring after some time because of that. A music can really help to elevate the entire experience and I hope the developer will address this in a future update.

If I had to design the game, I would make a scrolling list of all the items I can find so the player has a sense of progression. I would also reward the player for finding certain items, some of the items won’t be flashing and be even smaller, but the reward is higher. The game just fills too sandboxy like that. You know what can be a great idea, having a two-player mode where one player can play with his phone in a 3D non-AR view and need to hide so the seeker, the AR player, won’t be able to find him. This can be a really cool idea and you can even make this game to play over the internet because the person who is hiding doesn’t play the game in AR.

Conclusion

Overal, AR Hide and Seek, Virtual City is a really fun game, whether you are playing alone or with a friend. It takes the classic Hide n’ Seek game and makes it work really well in augmented reality. This is obviously not the only way to play Hide and Seek in Augmented Reality, but it works really well.

The main downsides are the lack of background music, no rewarding system, there is only one map (although a great one), the game is jittery and needs constant location recalibration and both the single-player and multiplayer modes are limited in functionality in the free version.

I think that this game is more fun playing with a friend and this means that you need to buy the multiplayer option so you can play beyond the limited tries. I Think this game is well worth it and it’s a really fun game to play with a friend and family. Kids will love this game and I can’t wait to play it with my niece when she comes visit me—Recommended.

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