Wind Peaks is a hidden objects puzzle game (think Where’s Wally in video game form) by Actoon Studio. The game was initially released on Steam, in July 2020, receiving quality-of-life updates soon after release and mini-game updates in January 2021. Wind Peaks has recently found a new home on the Nintendo Switch, releasing on March 3, 2021. This game is based in an outdoor mountain setting, as you follow a scout camping trip through the mysteries and oddities of Wind Peaks. This review will focus on the Nintendo Switch version of the game and includes comparisons to the Steam edition.
The game begins by introducing you to the controls. On the Switch, players use the L and R button to zoom in and out of the map. The left thumbstick allows you to move the map, and the right thumbstick moves the arrow pointer on the screen. The A button selects or interacts with objects, ZR is used to drag items, and players can use the X button for hints. I played the game in docked, handheld, and tabletop modes and found it easy and comfortable to play in all configurations.
The first two levels cover a thorough tutorial for the controls and general game mechanics, including prompts to interact with items like bushes and doors to reveal hidden objects. Unfortunately, when you reach the larger maps, there is no way to view the whole level. Zoomed out, you can only still see a small portion of the total map. This is the case for the Steam version and the Nintendo Switch version.
The story in Wind Peaks is minimal. Levels are introduced with a short comic-style panel animation, or with a small in level animation sequence. The brief story sections inject humour into the game, and I would have loved to see more of them. The scout troop leader does seem comically inept as a caretaker, taking the students to mysterious locations around the mountains to follow mysteries and chase riches.
The gameplay itself is straight forward. Each level will have a panel of items to locate on the map. On a couple of instances, I found the items in the panel to be a little misleading due to a slight colour (khaki compared to tan) or a visual indicator (ripple lines under a duck – indicating water) mismatch to the map version. I enjoyed the challenges the game presented, sometimes hiding items in or behind an interactive object. If needed, players can use the hint option, which will reveal an item’s location after a three-minute timer has expired. The additional mini-games during the levels, such as reassembling totem poles, helped keep my interest through a single sitting playthrough.
On my second playthrough, I found some items were placed in different locations to my first playthrough, which is great for replayability. On the whole, I found the gameplay relaxing. Nothing about the game creates a sense of urgency or stress, creating a potentially mindful gaming experience.
The colour pallet used in this game is earthy. Compared to Where’s Wally, where you are swamped with vivid red, blue, and black as the theme colours, Wind Peaks has a subdued visual appearance. The cartoon-style art, the kinds of objects you are searching for, and the story brings levity to the game. Actoon Studios shared they drew inspiration for the game from Gravity Falls and Hilda. Each map is a handcrafted art piece.
The sound design creates a light-hearted, calm, and slightly quirky atmosphere. The background soundtrack is a mix of forest sounds, with mystery and fantasy undertones. I quite often found myself giggling at sound effects made by interactive objects, animals, or people in the levels.
I found no significant variation between the Steam and Nintendo Switch versions of Wind Peaks. The only issue I observed was a slight loading delay during one of the level introduction animations, which paused the scene for a few seconds before continuing without issue. As part of the quality of life updates launched soon after release, the game will autosave when exiting a level (on Steam and Switch). This makes the game perfect for anyone trying to sneak in some gaming in busy times.
There are ten playable levels, including two that I would describe as tutorial stages. A playthrough will take between one and two hours, with the option to play through any map again. I appreciate a short game, but I would have loved more of Wind Peaks. I recommend this game for fans of the genre looking for a Nintendo Switch title to play. This game is suitable for gamers of all ages and one I would give as a gift to a young gamer in my life. I love the idea of playing this game in docked mode, displaying the game on a huge QLED TV, where friends or family can help you hunt down all the witch’s gnomes and discover the hidden treasure.