Hidden in Plain Sight (360) — Review

Got some friends over? Then perhaps you should give this entertaining little local multiplayer Xbox Live Indie Game a try.

Poor old Xbox Live Indie Games. All but impossible to find in the horrendously awful current incarnation of the Xbox 360’s Dashboard, these small-scale independently-developed games have an uphill struggle to get noticed, let alone celebrated. So it’s with great pleasure that I’d like to highlight a particularly entertaining one for you right now — assuming you have at least one friend to hand.

Hidden in Plain Sight from Adam Spragg Games is a simple local multiplayer game that will cost you just 80 of your Microsoft space bucks — or $1 to normal people. It’s a game based on the concept used in titles like The Ship and the multiplayer modes of the recent Assassin’s Creed games — blending into a crowd and surreptitiously completing objectives without tipping the other players off to who you really are.

The game features several different game modes to challenge. Ninja Party sees players blending into a crowd of other unmarked ninjas in an attempt to either kill all the other players or touch five on-screen statues; Catch a Thief splits players into teams, with one team controlling thieves who must collect coins and the other controlling snipers’ gun sights; Knights vs. Ninjas is another team game in which the knights’ team must kill all the ninjas before their royal charges are murdered; Death Race sees a large group of characters racing to a finish line on the right side of the screen, with the players provided with a very limited number of shots to pick off their opponents with; and Assassin requires one team to murder NPCs as subtly as possible, while the other must spot and snipe them.

All games take place on a single screen with simple, retro graphics and sound. Most of the gameplay revolves around looking for “tells” as to where the other players are — this could be anything from sounds that their characters make when performing an action to keeping one eye on what they’re doing with their controller. It’s a very simple game to understand, and the diverse game modes on offer provide a great deal of variety, with some more inherently suitable for larger groups of players than others.

“POOF!” goes the ninja.

It’s this simplicity that makes it an ideal local multiplayer game. When you have friends over and want to play a game, you don’t necessarily want to spend ages having to teach them how to use dual-stick shooter controls or explain what every button does — sometimes you just want to play. Hidden in Plain Sight uses no more than two buttons and the left stick in any of its modes, and all of these actions are clear, simple and straightforward, making it a game that can be enjoyed by even the most unskilled player.

Some may bemoan the lack of online multiplayer or anything for single players to do, but really to do so is to miss the point entirely. This is a game designed for groups of friends to sit down together — possibly with a few drinks inside them — and play, enjoy and laugh together. The distancing, impersonal effect of online multiplayer — coupled with the fact that you can’t sneakily peek at your opponents’ controllers if they’re not physically there with you — would doubtless cause this game to lose some of its simple, childish charm.

And besides, if you want to play a game like this online, you could always check out the aforementioned The Ship and Assassin’s Creed multiplayer modes.

Hidden in Plain Sight is available now from the Xbox Live Indie Games channel for 80 Microsoft Points. You can find out more and buy the game here.