I (like many other people in their mid-30’s or younger) grew up loving and obsessing over seek and find picture puzzle books. I would spend hours poring over the legends, attempting to find every object that was required of me. Hidden Through Time brings these books to the digital age as an adorable hand-drawn discovery game inviting you to find objects scattered across 4 different time periods: Stone Age, Egyptian, Medieval, and Western. Each time period has a number of different maps with varying degrees of difficulty and number of objects that you are required to find. Each object you find helps you to advance to additional stages and progress through the time periods. You are in control of a pointer finger which is used to navigate the map in search of all the objects.
I really enjoyed my time spent with Hidden Through Time. It wasn’t a game that I would normally play because it seemed like it might be for a younger age group, but I truly believe it can be enjoyed by anyone. As an adult it was more of a fun pastime, but I think that younger kids can truly be challenged. There were a few times that even I got held up (especially on the final map that had the most objects to search for on the largest map in the western time period). Hidden Through Time was more challenging than the seek and find puzzle books of yore (which are completely stationary) as all of the objects on the screen have their own animations and your attention can easily be diverted to areas of the map that don’t necessarily have objects to find. The objects to be found are all shown along the bottom of the screen and will highlight green once they have been found. Each object in this panel also comes with a short phrase that can be used as hint for where that object may be located, but in many cases are also humorous or sarcastic based on where object is found. I read through each one because they made me laugh or smile more times than not. Another aspect of the game that puts it ahead of book versions is the level of interactivity of all objects on the screen. Houses, huts, pyramids, castles and even caskets can be clicked to display new objects that are hidden inside. Aside from showing new areas of hidden things, interacting with individual objects will also come with sound effects for basically everything; from humans and animals, to trees and campfires. I found myself clicking on objects just to hear the sounds they make. The other advantage that Hidden Through Time has over books in the same genre is the players’ ability to zoom in and out on the screen to take a closer look at areas with potential hidden objects. Given the fact that some of the map screens are quite large, this ability can be important. The maps are interesting and fully detailed and, although there is no underlying story, searching through each map will tell a story of its own. One of my favorite moments from the story mode is an unexpected reference to Pokemon that had me laughing and delighted.
Outside of the Story mode there are Map Editor and Online modes. The map editor mode allows the player access to all of the assets and backgrounds in the game while also giving them the ability to plot movements and choose the items to be found. Admittedly, I didn’t spend a lot of time in this mode, but it seems fully featured and could be an excellent opportunity for all the creative types out there. Once you have finished a map in the Map Editor you then have the ability to share it with the community via the Online mode. I did spend a good amount of time in the online mode with maps created by different users that varied in quality from detailed and impressive to just plain terrible (likely due to the link to some achievements/trophies on consoles; see my trophy hunting section). When I first started playing the game a few days before release there were very few maps available, but as the week went on and more players got into the game, the user generated map catalog was becoming robust.
Hidden Through Time was a calming, enjoyable and fun pastime from the hand-drawn visuals and the soothing music to the entertaining animations and sound effects. This review resulted in my rating of:
Hidden Through Time released on March 12, 2020 on Steam, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch. The game was reviewed on Playstation 4 with a code that was provided by Crazy Monkey Studios.
Prior to writing this review I did complete the platinum trophy on PS4 which will require between 4 and 6 hours of your time depending on your searching abilities in the story mode. Most trophies are quite easy, just requiring you to find all objects in the story mode or play a certain number of games in online mode. The online mode trophies were one of the more time consuming trophies as you are required to play 1, 5, 10, 25, and then 50 total online games. There are maps that users have created specifically for the trophies/achievements that just have a blank map with 5 objects in the center, but these are certainly the least fun to play. Overall, it is an easy and enjoyable platinum trophy to obtain.
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