Finding Hannah is a hidden object game that stands out through its slice-of-life story, impressive art style and a relatable protagonist. Hannah is going through a midlife crisis at her job while also trying to navigate her complicated relationship. She reaches out to other characters, seeking advice for her troubles and some help in finding herself.
Currently playable are only the first two and a half chapters, each containing five different locations, totaling to 4-5 hours of playtime. Clearing a scene will award you a certain amount of points, depending on how fast you find the objects and how accurate you are in clicking them. One location can and must be played multiple times, because of two reasons. The first few times you clear a scene, you’ll mostly get some story progression through a small cutscene involving Hanna interacting with the other characters. Subsequent clears of that location will instead award you items required for a minigame that you’ll have to complete to be able to unlock the next location.
This minigame functions as 2048 in which the elements are freely movable. The idea is to combine two items of the same type and level into a stronger item of one level above, then repeat this step until you reach the higher-level objects (just like in 2048) as required by the quests given to you. When you finally manage to acquire enough points from completing these objectives, you’ll be able to spend those points on unlocking a new location which will offer new story bits and a combination of higher-level drops for the minigame.
2048 is a fun game, but its main issue is that a lot of iterations are needed for creating higher-level items. In Finding Hannah, the maximum level item is 10, and to be able to create it you will need exactly 2 ^ 10 = 1024 basic objects. Considering that you get a random and quite small amount of objects each time to complete a scene (also depending on your performance), you’ll have to play a single location dozens of times if you want to progress. The more you advance in the game, the higher the requirements to complete quests (most often encountered are two or three Level 8 items per quest) and thus the more time you’ll spend grinding for these items.
Even though every time you play a scene there’s some novelty element because you get a random mechanic between finding objects based on their names / silhouettes / types and sometimes even new items or different positions for some of the items, sadly the game boils down to being extremely grindy and redundant. As a time passer it’s surely fine (completing a scene takes only a few seconds), but for those that dislike playing the same content over and over again, Finding Hannah’s design could become frustrating and unenjoyable.
Considering that you currently, on average, get around ten mixed Level 1 and Level 2 objects per scene completion, the game could really benefit from being less stingy with the rewards. The story is nice to follow, but having to replay one level as many times as needed to gather hundreds of Level 1 and Level 2 items, then manually pairing them together in an incremental way really pushes one’s patience and ultimately decreases the fun. On the positive side, the scenes aren’t timed, stacking bonus points are awarded for finding objects quickly one after another, and you can also use up to three hints per scene, replenished every time you replay it. Additionally, the items are quite noticeable in the environment, without appearing glued onto the background. Their art style is clean and minimalistic, making even their silhouettes easily identifiable.
Aside from being LGBTQIA+ inclusive, the game touches on political and historical themes from the world’s history of the second half of the 20th century (with a strong focus on Germany’s): wars, feminism, environmentalism, etc. Out of the 32 levels that the full game plans to offer on release (which is currently scheduled for the end of 2023), only 12 are available at the time of writing this review. Aside from a less restrictive reward system, the game could benefit from having some quality-of-life elements implemented (especially in the merge minigame), and also Steam achievements as a bonus.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a press preview copy of the game, kindly provided by Fein Games via The Indie Game Collective.