I have a distinct memory of looking at a “Where’s Waldo?” book for the first time. It was when I was a child and was at the local hairdresser waiting to get my hair cut. The “I Spy” and “Magic Eye” books didn’t do much for me, but finding Waldo, various other people, and objects on pages filled to the brim with imagery, was a real treat. So when I heard that developer Crazy Monkey Studios was releasing Hidden Through Time,which operates under the same premise, the inner child in me jumped with joy.
Recently releasing on all consoles and mobile, Hidden Through Time is a game of hide and seek where you must find people, creatures, and objects that are scattered throughout the screen. It uses an isometric viewpoint and the game controls in a point and click manner. Starting simply enough with a small map with a few objects that need to be found, it quickly explodes into massively crowded areas with neatly hidden items. It can be quite challenging finding all of the hidden items, especially when the last item or two are small things that blend extremely well into the environment, the equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack.
There are several things that Hidden Through Time does well and makes the game enjoyable. The gameplay and the music are very sedate. It took a little while to realize that the soothing (yet repetitive) theme playing over and over again sounds like “Sleeping In” by The Postal Service. There isn’t a hint system telling you exactly where the missing items are. Instead, there’s short text based clues that hover over the items that allude to where it might be. This is a nice way of helping the player out, without making the solution too easy and readily available.
The story maps have a great design on their own, but they aren’t the only option. There’s an in-depth map creator that lets players create their own content, expanding on the inherent creativity of the game. At the time of publication, only a few user created maps exist. They have great unique designs, but the player base needs to grow to make this feature stand out more.
There are only a few things that mar the experience. In a game so vast with so many items, it would be nice if the hidden items weren’t repeating assets. Zooming in further would be nice too. Some items require a fine tooth comb to discover, feeling like having a handicap without being able to look closer. And possibly a personal problem, but everything kind of blends together after playing for a while. Finally, load times were surprisingly slow, even on more powerful platforms.
If you’re looking for a stroll down “Where’s Waldo?” lane, or you’re a fan of hidden object games in general, Hidden ThroughTime is solid. The experience is pretty mellow and is a nice reprieve from a lot of current games that can induce anger with their difficulty or be ultra competitive.