Hidden Through Time is Where’s Waldo but presented in a way that feels right and plays exactly how you would expect. Controlling an on-screen cursor, the goal is to locate specific objects in a busy landscape, just like searching for Waldo in the 90s. Unlike the static pages of the book, this game features subtle animation and object movement which adds another layer of depth to the searching gameplay.
Speaking of depth, tapping on houses will allow players to peek inside. Click on that rock statue a few times and it will chisel away into a shape you might be looking for. Touch that dinosaur to hear it roar or tap that torch to set it on fire. The interactive elements not only provide functionally, it also increases the charm.
The initial stages are small but quickly grow in size and scope, adding more specific objects to find each time. To avoid tediously searching for teeny-tiny objects, which can be like finding a needle in a haystack, the developers included a creative hint system. Hovering over each findable object at the bottom of the screen will mention a hint as to where that item is located on the busy screen. This brings welcomed context to each item without simply giving the answer away.
Visually, all elements are composed of this super simple stick figure visual style. It all looks like a 6th grader’s notebook doodle but it totally works. Animations are also simple with most movement performed in a simple loop but never becomes too distracting even with dozens of idle animations playing. The best part of the presentation is the musical soundtrack. It is amazing and this game and the entire experience would not be the same without. The music is so good I want to put the Mp3s on my phone and take it with me wherever I go. It is so relaxing and exceedingly well done. You can buy this game and never play the actual game, just listen to the music, to easily get your money’s worth.
Players are also free to make their own stages using the maker mode and then can share with the community. Although a mouse and keyboard would work better, the interface is well designed even when using a controller. At the time of this writing, many maps were created to milk Achievements but this is something that will really grow given some time. Also, with the hint system, creators can use this to help or hinder the player, providing lies if desired. But who knows, maybe someone will use this hint system in a creative way, perhaps to tell a story or something. Either way, there are options here thanks to the thoughtful design. The uploading process is also easy and the game requires players to complete the stage before it gets posted, similar to uploads in Super Mario Maker. There is also a check system in place so users cannot upload levels without having to wait several minutes between uploads. It is worth pointing out there is no real time multiplayer, perhaps the biggest omission from this package. Two players, for example, cannot work in co-op to clear a map as fast as possible.
Hidden Through Time is a super chill experience through and through. Each map can be played at your own pace as there is no time limit or leaderboard to stress about. Tied together with the remarkable soundtrack, this is a pick-up-and-play casual title anyone can and should enjoy.
Also available on PS4, Switch, iOS, Android, and PC.
Better Than: Where’s Waldo (NES)
Also Better Than: completing a Sudoku puzzle
Wait For It: Magic Eye 3DS