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Video Game / Hidden Expedition

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Hidden Expedition is a long-running Hidden Object Game series. The first five games were produced in-house by Big Fish Games; starting with the sixth, the hands-on work was taken over by Eipix Entertainment with Big Fish retaining distribution. Beginning with the 19th installment, The Price of Paradise, the games are now produced by Domini Games, again with Big Fish retaining distribution.

The early games are almost purely hidden object hunting with a few bonus puzzles for variety. By Devil's Triangle, the series switches over to IHOG (interactive Hidden Object Game) format.

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    Games in the series 
The games in the series are:

  1. Titanic: The player character, a member of the Hidden Expedition Adventure League, has been called on to search the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.

  2. Everest: The player character is racing three other groups to the top of Mount Everest. All the groups are on the trail of an eccentric explorer who claimed to have discovered a shortcut to the peak.

  3. Amazon: The player character has to track down a missing scientist.

  4. Devil's Triangle: A pilot for the Hidden Expedition Adventure Team has disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle.

  5. The Uncharted Islands: A sequel to Devil's Triangle, the player character is trying to escape the Bermuda Triangle.

  6. Smithsonian Hope Diamond: The player character, a new recruit to the Hidden Expedition League of Preservation, has to find missing fragments of the Hope Diamond and solve the message coded into them before a band of thieves gets them.

  7. The Crown of Solomon: Can you keep the fragments of King Solomon's crown out of the wrong hands?

  8. Smithsonian Castle: The player character must solve a mystery connected to the founding of the Smithsonian Institution.

  9. Dawn of Prosperity: Strange earthquakes in Montana put the player character on the path of a hidden community.

  10. Fountain of Youth: Follow the path of Ferdinand Magellan's voyage to find your fellow agents.

  11. Midgard's End: The player character must stop an attempt to trigger Ragnarok.

  12. The Eternal Emperor: An expedition into the tomb of Qin Shi Huang leads to danger.

  13. The Lost Paradise: A lost civilization may hold the key to a new energy source.

  14. The Pearl of Discord: A wily thief has made off with a priceless pearl discovered by Marco Polo.

  15. The Curse of Mithridates: The long-lost palace of a man known as the Poison King has been unearthed, and H.E.L.P. must send a rescue team to save the missing archaeologists.

  16. The Golden Secret: A rare artifact is up for auction in Geneva, and H.E.L.P. needs to win the auction to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. What is its connection to the founding of their organization? Even they don't know.

  17. The Altar of Lies: Following an ambush in Honduras, the player is mistakenly identified as a double agent, and has to evade H.E.L.P. long enough to find out what really happened.

  18. Neptune's Gift: Help with research in the ancient city of Pompeii, where a powerful artifact threatens to overwhelm the world with the sea god's might.

  19. The Price of Paradise: The Aztec goddess of nature, Coatlicue, has awakened and ensorcelled a human to carry out her will; he must be stopped before it's too late.

  20. Reign of Flames: After volcanic eruptions reveal hidden caves in Samoa, H.E.L.P. has to prevent an ancient weapon called the Sun Drop from being found and used for nefarious purposes.

  21. A King's Line: The player is summoned to Europe, where archaeologists believe they may have found the final resting place of King Arthur himself. A local philanthropist intends to turn the land into a research center for climate change, but is willing to suspend these plans if it really is Arthur's tomb; however, one of his major investors is not as benevolent.

These games contain examples of:

  • Affably Evil: The one pulling the strings of the bad guys in Smithsonian Hope Diamond comes across this way to the player. He compliments their skill, remarking that they're wasted on H.E.L.P., and offers to give them a much more lucrative job once their objective is completed.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The bonus chapters of the collector's editions sometimes provide this, having the player assume the mantle of a different character to show details that didn't appear in the main game.
    • In Altar of Lies, the bonus chapter shows how Sam survived his fall from the cliff and escaped from Honduras.
  • Auction: Both The Golden Secret and A King's Line send the player to attend auctions at which they need to acquire specific MacGuffins for H.E.L.P.
  • Beneath the Earth: Parts of A King's Line take place here. Justified, since they're looking for an ancient tomb.
  • Big Fancy Castle: These show up from time to time as settings. Smithsonian Castle is one of the best examples, as it literally takes place in the eponymous building.
  • Bland-Name Product: In the games produced by Eipix Entertainment, it's not unusual to come across an item using the company name in this way.
    • The player in The Golden Secret finds a plane ticket for Eipix Airlines.
    • In Smithsonian Hope Diamond, the player finds and uses a bottle of spray glass cleaner with the brand name of Eipix.
  • Bloodless Carnage: A mild example in The Eternal Emperor. Two characters get shot (one fatally); but not only is there no blood, their hazmat suits aren't even damaged. This is despite the fact that getting Gunshot Victim #2 out of the tomb before the mercury vapors finish him off is a plot point.
    • Also, near the end of The Golden Secret, one character observes that another, who is grievously injured, is "losing a lot of blood." There isn't a drop of blood to be seen.
  • But Thou Must!: Lampshaded by the player character after they're accepted into H.E.L.P. in Smithsonian Hope Diamond.
    Funny how no one asked me whether or not I want to join H.E.L.P.
  • Canon Welding: A minor example. Interacting with the office computer at the mechanic's garage in Altar of Lies brings up the start screen for Amaranthine Voyage: The Burning Sky, which is another product of Eipix Entertainment.
  • Celtic Mythology: Figures into much of A King's Line.
  • Childhood Friends: In the opening cinematic of Smithsonian Castle, two children are shown playing together while one narrates as an adult. They are, as might be guessed, extremely significant to the plot.
  • Clear My Name: This is a huge part of the plot of Altar of Lies, when the player is wrongly accused of being The Mole.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The prototype sub in Devil's Triangle is powered by tech based off discoveries in Amazon.
    • In Smithsonian Hope Diamond, Sam outright states that the organization has recruited you based on your successes in the previous games' adventures, explicitly mentioning the events of Everest and Amazon.
  • Cosmetic Award: Reaching the summit of Everest in, well, Everest earns your character a certificate of merit. Later games feature a variety of unlockable achievements which can be seen in the 'Hidden Expedition' box.
  • Disney Villain Death: Sam's attacker in Altar of Lies, as he falls from a cliff. Also believed to apply to Sam himself, as he is thought to be dead from the fall for some time, but ultimately subverted by his survival.
  • Distressed Dude: In the games where he appears, Sam finds himself in trouble relatively often, especially considering that he's supposed to be a high-ranking agent. He's been taken hostage, shot, and otherwise endangered multiple times. He's usually fairly calm about it, taking everything in stride and confident that you'll find a way to thwart whoever's got him tied up this time. Altar of Lies is an exception, however, as he is very rattled by the attackers trying to shoot the two of you.
  • Edutainment Game: Most installments provide interesting facts and historical details related to the current story. Both Smithsonian Hope Diamond and Smithsonian Castle particularly fall into this, being produced in cooperation with the actual Smithsonian Institute.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": In the first few Eipix-produced games, Sam calls your character "Rookie"; later games change this to "Agent".
    • In The Golden Secret, the player actually signs a guest register at the auction house. The handwriting is almost indecipherable with how swirly it is, but examining it closely suggests that her first name is Chris - not that anyone ever calls her that.
  • Excuse Plot: Yeah, even the later games are pretty much "how can we link these locations together into a single game?"
  • Featureless Protagonist: The final cutscene in Titanic shows a generic figure in a diving suit, but that's as much as we ever see in most installments.
    • Many games make it clear that the character is female, as various characters will address her as "ma'am" or "madam" and, on the occasions that she is voice-acted (such as in Smithsonian Castle), she speaks with a clearly female voice.
    • The Golden Secret actually shows the player character as the game begins, sitting in a mountain ski lodge sipping a cup of hot beverage. All that's seen is her hands and lower face, but it's enough to see that (this time at least) she's a fairly light-skinned brunette in roughly her thirties.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The plot of Smithsonian Castle delves into time travel; however, this trope is never implied to be an issue. No one ever questions the time-displaced characters about their wardrobes or style of speech; and, apart from some concern about getting back to the correct time and fixing the problems caused by the time travel, the affected characters don't seem particularly troubled.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Once Eipix takes over and changes the name of the organization to Hidden Expedition League of Preservation, having a minor character say they "need HELP" shows up a lot.
  • Game Within a Game: Clicking on the stylized "E" icon on the garage computer in Altar of Lies brings up a Match-Three Game. It has nothing to do with the main story, it's just an extra little Easter Egg for the player's amusement.
  • The Good King: King Arthur, in A King's Line, is believed to have been this just like in his legends.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The collector's editions of the game include a number of things to find while searching each scene. Among the items to gather are 'clue cards' which can then be examined in the Hidden Expedition box; they don't impact the gameplay at all, but provide various pieces of trivia about the location which is the subject of the current installment.
  • The Greys: The shortcut in Everest was apparently built by these guys.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sam is prepared to make one in Smithsonian Hope Diamond, holding off their kidnapper in order to buy time for the player to escape from the train. Of course, he's fine later.
    • He does it again in Altar of Lies, when he and the player find themselves suddenly under fire by unfamiliar enemies with guns. He gives the player a machete and tells her to run while he covers her. He's less fine this time.
  • Historical Domain Character: Historical figures show up from time to time, usually famous inventors or explorers.
    • In Golden Secret it's revealed that Sir Walter Raleigh was significant to the founding of H.E.L.P. itself. The order was founded and financed using gold collected during what turned out to be his final expedition.
    • A King's Line uses a fair bit of actual Welsh history, including the annexation of Wales under the reign of Edward I.
  • Identical Grandson: Sam, as it turns out, is the spitting image of his great-grandfather, who was also a high-ranking H.E.L.P. agent and is seen during the plot of Smithsonian Castle. Seems that being a member of H.E.L.P. is often In the Blood.
  • In Medias Res:
    • Everest starts off with what amounts to a tutorial level, but the level in question is one from late in the game.
    • Smithsonian Hope Diamond starts off with you and Sam imprisoned on a train. Once you escape, the story jumps back to how you wound up there.
    • Lost Paradise opens with the player character waking up on a beach next to a wrecked speedboat, and she must put together what happened.
    • The opening cinematic of Smithsonian Castle is basically this, giving the tragic backstory of an unidentified character who later becomes important to the plot.
  • Legacy Character: A King's Line turns King Arthur into one of these, revealing that there were actually multiple Arthurs through the centuries ("King Arthur" being something of a title rather than a name), and that's why the legends are so contradictory.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Sam and his green plaid shirts.

  • The Mole:
    • In The Lost Paradise, it doesn't take long for the player to learn that Mr. Drake's assistant Melissa has been the inside man on the project all along.
    • Mentioned repeatedly throughout Altar of Lies, since all of H.E.L.P. thinks that you are the mole. As the game progresses, it becomes clear that someone inside the organization is indeed working with the enemy, and they almost all think it's you. The only ones who know better are Agent Walker, who vanishes early in the game; Sam, once he reveals that Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated; and Superintendent Miller, who contacts you throughout the game and urges you to return to headquarters so he can help you. Miller turns out to be the Mole in Charge, which Sam discovers when the boss shoots him. He gets better.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: In Smithsonian Hope Diamond, when the player arrives at the Smithsonian Castle, they have to solve a riddle in order to convince the messenger to hand over their package; once they do, a note inside the package warns them that this is only the first of many such riddles and puzzles which await them. Justified, as the entire reason they've been invited to the Smithsonian in the first place is as a test for their recruitment into H.E.L.P.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: The Uncharted Islands features a mostly-Affably Evil group of pirates led by a man nicknamed Undertow. Justified because the islands in question are under a force field which grants its denizens rather long lives, at the price of never being able to leave.
  • Pixel Hunt: In some of the games, an item must be used on the scene in precisely the right spot; being off by a fraction can cause the scene to reject the item, making the player think they have the wrong answer.
    • At one point in Uncharted Islands, you need to cut a string with a pair of scissors. If you don't position the correct part of the scissors over a specific (but unidentified) spot on the string, it won't cut... and there's no skip button on that puzzle.
  • Public Domain Artifact: Finding the Holy Grail factors into the resolution of A King's Line. It's hidden in a magnificent chamber beneath Mount Snowdon in Wales.
  • Public Domain Character: King Arthur is probably the best example of this in the series to date.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: The player character in Golden Secret is not thrilled to have to abandon her ski vacation in order to be involved in the latest case; at one point, her internal monologue even has her observe that hopefully she'll be done soon, so she can get back to the slopes. At the end, her H.E.L.P. contact gives her the organization's gold card to cover her expenses for the remainder of her trip.
  • Put on a Bus: Sam in Lost Paradise and again in A King's Line.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Just about everyone you encounter in Devil's Triangle/Uncharted Islands is this trope.
  • Rank Up: As of the end of Altar of Lies, Sam holds the rank of superintendent in H.E.L.P.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Once Eipix takes over game development, it's made clear that the player character is female. (Not surprising, since female protagonists are part of Eipix's house style.)
  • Series Finale: It has yet to be confirmed, but given that A King's Line was released in June 2021 and there have been no new Hidden Expeditions since then, the series may have reached its conclusion.
  • Shout-Out: In Smithsonian Hope Diamond, the bad guys have a pet tiger named Baby. Upon encountering the beast in her cage, the player inquires, "Did they put you in a corner, Baby?"
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: At one point in The Eternal Emperor, it is so freaking obvious that the player character's partner has been put under mind control. She remains completely clueless about this until mind-controlled Sam gets hold of the MacGuffin.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Sometimes factors into the resolution of a game, as H.E.L.P. (and the player) have to destroy certain secrets in order to keep them out of the hands of greedy people. Other times, those secrets are destroyed purely by accident, but it's considered to be for the best.
  • Time Skip: Occasionally the interface will inform the player that there has been a significant passage of time between scenes. For example, in Altar of Lies, it skips over the three days between the player character's escape from the mountains in Honduras and when she meets up with Agent Walker.
  • Time Travel/Time Travel Escape: Factors heavily into the plot of Smithsonian Castle.
  • Timed Mission: In Titanic, each "dive" (level) is timed and misclicks subtract from your available "air" (time). Everest tracks how much time you take as part of the whole "race three other groups" thing, but shows relative progress between the four teams instead of an actual timer. Later games in the series are untimed.
  • Treasure Map:
    • The eponymous Golden Secret is the city of El Dorado, and the player must find the lost map that will lead them there.
    • In Smithsonian Hope Diamond, said stone and its attendant shards each contain pieces of one of these, which will lead to the hiding place of the Philosopher's Stone. H.E.L.P. is desperately trying to keep them out of the hands of jewel thieves.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The Match-Three Game mentioned under Game Within a Game can't be beaten. It just goes on indefinitely until the player gets tired of it and decides to get back to the plot. Once that happens, it's no longer available to play.
  • Wire Dilemma: One of the minigames in Devil's Triangle is to cut the wires on a bomb in the correct order.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The Big Bad of Smithsonian Hope Diamond seems to come to this conclusion at the very end of the game, much to the annoyance of one of his partners.