There’s a genre of video games that it seems like most people usually ignore: the hidden object game. I mean, they’re everywhere. I’ve seen the one based on the Castle TV show on the clearance shelf of my local big box store for years now. Like every genre, there are outstanding examples—one such is a game I was introduced to during a Bit Bash event in Chicago called Hidden Folks that was absolutely charming. In fact, I liked Hidden Folks so much that when I saw Hidden Through Time, I was thrilled at the prospect of playing a brand new colorized Hidden Folks. Only one problem: Hidden Folks was made by a completely different group of developers. At first, I was disappointed, thinking I’d be playing a cheap knock-off, but I’m surprised at just how much I like Hidden Through Time.
Hidden Through Time stands out in the hidden object genre. If you’re not familiar with the premise of these types of games, it’s super simple: much like a Where’s Waldo? book, you’re given a series of items or people to find, and you have to peruse busy scenes while finding them. You might think that clicking everything in sight will yield results, but such an endeavor would be fruitless without machine-like meticulousness. Instead, you have to use a sharp eye, and the short provided hints, to find stuff. Very much in the style of Hidden Folks, in Hidden Through Time when you click on a mundane object or person, often you’re greeted by a fun sound effect. In fact, I would often click various objects just to discover the sound they yielded when prodded.
Unlike Hidden Folks, Hidden Through Time is in color—something that makes finding the objects a little easier. But don’t expect to breeze through the levels, as some items are extremely tiny or hidden behind or inside of something. If that doesn’t sound fun, well, that’s just the nature of hidden object games. Each scene has several objects to find, and you can’t proceed to the next level until you find them all. As the name suggests, there are multiple eras depicted in Hidden Through Time: medieval fantasy, Egyptian, Prehistoric, and Old West. Don’t expect any sort of historical accuracy, though: whimsy abounds.
Hidden Through Time’s arty style and presentation make looking for hard to find objects a surprisingly fun activity, though it’s not without its frustrations. It’s never fun to be stuck looking for a tiny banana, but it’s even more frustrating when the clues provided actually lead you astray. I do wish that each of Hidden Through Time’s levels felt a little more handcrafted, as each are comprised of era appropriate props that are reused for each of that era’s levels. But that’s ultimately forgiveable, as it more easily paves the way for Hidden Through Time’s level editor.
Using Hidden Through Time’s level editor, you can create and share levels, and even download new ones from the community. Unfortunately, anything you make is limited to the props on hand. And while the level editor has somewhat limited capabilities, it’s still a great add, and makes Hidden Through Time’s content as limited as the community’s imagination (and involvement). In fact, there are already a few amusing creations up for the community to enjoy, including a clever recreation of Yharnam from Bloodborne.
As far as I can tell, Hidden Through Time doesn’t have an impending mobile release, but it’s set up for it. All of the controls would be perfect for a touchscreen, and look to be designed with one in mind. Hidden Through Time is also available on the Nintendo Switch, though I didn’t have access to that version and therefore can’t attest to its touchscreen capabilities. Feel free to leave a comment if you’ve tried it on Switch.
Hidden Through Time is so close to Hidden Folks I wanted to scream “rip off!” but Hidden Through Time definitely holds its own. The addition of a level editor and community content really elevates the potential and replayability, too. Sitting around and pixel-hunting might not sound fun, but Hidden Through Time pulled it off with charm and style.
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