Source: Review Copy
Where To Get It: Steam
Hidden object games, when they’re purely hidden object games, are normally extremely my jam, not least because they seem like a bit of a lost art.
Hidden Through Time, while it definitely has its good points… Also misses the point enough times that although I’ve completed it, I find myself with mixed feelings. And some eyestrain.
Let’s get the obvious, glaring flaw out of the way right now: There are a fair few objects and people… Who are more than 75% obscured, or hidden in colour identical (or nearly identical) areas. Yes, developers. You want people to have a hardish time, explore your lovingly crafted scenes to find those objects… But if it’s more than 25% obscured, especially if, for example, it’s a thin god-damn thing to start with (Hi, nearly every instance of the mace I saw!), it’s going to irritate people when they find it, even if it is the only instance of the object around. The mace, as the most irritating example I remember, could have been put out in the open. There’s enough visual confusion that it would still be missed on a cursory pass, believe me. Otherwise, that full view of the object in the hints, regardless of what clue you give? Useless to me, or any other player. I got those through sheer bloody mindedness. And no, the outlines don’t actually help with the smaller items. In the case of the smallest items, it makes them harder to identify.
Rant over. Now let’s get on with nice things. Aesthetically, it’s quite nice. The clue boxes themselves are clear, there’s a nice, simplistic style, which, with the exception of the small, fiddly objects, works for it… And there’s a fairly easy to learn editor, allowing you to set your own objectives and clues, and for others to play those online, nice! It is somewhat irritating that some objects you’d consider rather common, like skeletons (Let’s face it, skeletons in games are really common) are restricted to the age they’re first found in, but that’s, honestly, a minor niggle in the face of things. Music wise, it doesn’t wear out its welcome, although it’s not really memorable stuff.
Scenario wise, I do somewhat like the story mode’s stories, for the most part. The stone age stuff is very reminiscent of both the Flintstones and old children’s puzzle books, which would also sometimes have things like “What if a zoo, but stone age?” , or little touches like the builders in the egyptian setting leaving their tools back at the workplace, or dropping them, or accidentally breaking the pillar they’ve built… These are nice touches, and they definitely helped bring things back from irritation with the negative aspects of the design, to the more positive end of things.
So, overall, Hidden Through Time is flawed, but it’s still a game that doesn’t outstay its welcome, that allows replayability through creation, has at least an accessible UX (Alas, a lack of colourblindness support, and the aforementioned eyestrain inducement of finding the tinier, skinnier things loses this one accessibility points), and is, overall, a hidden object game to definitely try. You’ll find out pretty quickly if this one’s a turn-off for you.
The Mad Welshman has found everything. Except his mind.