Title: Hidden Through Time
Developer: Crazy Monkey Studios
Publisher: Crazy Monkey Studios
Genre: Point and Click, Hidden Object
Available On: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, Steam
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: hiddenthroughtime.com
Release Date: March 12th, 2020
A title with gameplay similar to looking through a Where’s Waldo? book might not sound that appealing. But what keeps Hidden Through Time from growing stale is a hefty dose of charm. You’ll explore four definitive eras of the human race, searching for various hidden objects. And while the game itself is relatively short, you can always go online to design your own levels or conquer someone else’s.
Traveling Through Time
Hidden Through Time takes you through 4 unique eras: The Stone Age, Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, and the Old West. Each era comes with six or seven levels with the size of each changing as you progress. As each level increases in size, so too does the number of hidden objects, people, or animals the game tasks you with finding. Each area is lovingly hand-drawn and crafted. The design reminded me of the art style of Cyanide & Happiness. Just with a pleasant pastel color scheme. And that made me thoroughly enjoy searching for my needles in haystacks.
The sound design, however, is not quite as charming. Clicking on an animal or person causes them to make a funny little noise. But the problem lies in the music. Don’t get me wrong; the track is calming and fits a specific storybook aesthetic. Unfortunately, it’s one track that plays on a loop for the entire game. Each of the four eras is unique. And including a track inspired by the music of each time period (or at least altering the one track to fit each era) could have added to the game’s already delightful presentation. Instead, I muted the game halfway through and put on something else. You can turn the music off in the options menu, but it just seems like a missed opportunity.
On The Hunt
Every level in Hidden Through Time gives you a group of hidden things to find in its content-packed space. Controls are straightforward: use the joystick to move your cursor, click on objects with the A button, and use the shoulder buttons to zoom in and out. As levels grow larger, the items become harder to find. You’re also given more of them as you move through each stage. You can see your group of objects at the bottom of the screen. Some of these items are small. Some are hidden behind other objects. Others blend into a similarly colored area or are hidden inside buildings and other structures. In fact, you may as well click on every building of each level as soon as you get there to open them up and make it easier on yourself.
Now all of that may sound a bit tedious at first, especially in larger areas. But there are a couple of things the game does that makes it easier and actually fun. Each object comes with a slightly cryptic and sometimes comedic clue as to its whereabouts. For example, in The Great Pyramid level pictured above, the first hidden object is a man accompanied by the clue, “I’m the victim of a sting operation.” You’ll find him surrounded by a group of scorpions. Each clue nudges what you should be looking for.
You’re under no obligation to find each object either. You can use the D-pad to scroll through them and read each clue. But you only need to find a certain amount before moving on to the next stage. Think of the objects likes collectibles in Super Mario games. You don’t need them all to progress, but they’re there if you want an extra challenge. And I was thankful for the option since some of these objects can be a bit mundane. I found plenty of plants, bugs, and articles of clothing during my playthrough, no matter what time period I was in.
Sharing Is Caring
You can blow through everything the Story Mode of Hidden Through Time has to offer in an afternoon. But creating original levels and sharing them online should provide plenty of opportunities to return. It isn’t as expansive as something like Super Mario Maker 2, but you shouldn’t expect it to be (this is only $8 on the Switch e-shop, after all). You can use assets from each of the four-time periods, which is actually a considerable amount. Or you can combine them to create one wacky level. Items are divided into different categories on the left side of the screen. But the real joy of this mode comes from selecting which items you want players to hunt for and coming up with your own clues. While I was disappointed by some of the more “normal” items I searched for in the story mode, that obviously isn’t a problem when designing your own maps. And just like with Super Mario Maker 2, it’ll be interesting to see what other players come up with.
Verdict: Hidden Through Time is a game that anyone can enjoy, no matter the skill level. Simplistic controls, a charming presentation, and interesting clues make it fun to explore. Some of the items you must find are a bit boring, as is the repetitive music. But the ability to create and share your own levels should keep players coming back after its too-brief campaign.
- Charming presentation
- Funny clues
- Online Map Creator
- Boring, repetitive music
- Some of the hidden objects are mundane