Where’s Wally has always been a curious phenomena – a bit like Sudoku in a way. Both seemingly ride a huge wave of popularity by working a simple premise to its core in the face of flashy technology. Hidden Through Time is a computer game version of Where’s Wally. It is a hidden object game but critically also a hidden object game builder that gives longevity and creativity to its beautifully hand-drawn arts and crafts.
To get you started, Hidden Through Time gives you 26 levels in a campaign mode to enjoy. Here, each map showcases a wide variety of art across different periods in time. In each map there are hidden objects to find and often they are from another time period and do not belong here. Sometimes they can be a human with a certain hat on or an animal hiding behind a tree. The beauty is in the finding and each object comes with a little hint to help you on your way.
The campaign mode is vital for two reasons. Firstly, it showcases all different art and there are hundreds of doodles to choose from. I particularly liked how animals and humans move around adding much needed life to a still painting. That also sometimes makes it challenging to find what you are after if its on the move too! The second and most important reason campaign mode exists is to educate you about what makes a good hidden object puzzle whilst teaching you about layer building.
You see the reason solving a map and finding everything can take a while is that many objects have layers. Houses have a roof or upper floor, maybe a lower floor and inside there could be a bed that can be uncovered or a pot to be opened. You could have a collection of Pyramids and they all have multiple floors with tombs inside and all you are looking for is one with a gem inside. You could line up 20 humans in a dance around a fire and you’ll be looking for just one of them to have a certain headdress on. It is this attention to detail and world building that makes Hidden Through Time so rewarding and enjoyable to play. The bigger the map – the more lavish it feels.
All this stays in your head when you then move into the excellent create and online modes. Everything that was used in campaign mode is available for you to create your own maps with too. Everything is organised in time periods or types of objects and then you choose what you want and stamp it onto the map editor. The editor works a bit like a sticker book – or photoshop layering if you are posh. You can line up and place objects over the top of each other and if you spend the time you can build up some really impressive looking vistas. Choose the objects you want other players to find and then optionally give them a hint or a cryptic message on how to find them.
Once completed and verified your map is uploaded onto the online section where there are a variety of sorting options for you to find the best maps online. Many have simply thrown 5 items on a blank screen for the trophies and achievements but for each one of those there is also a really well crafted map too. You can sort maps but a thumbs up rating, percentage completion rating and also by favourite authors or maps too. There’s also a keyword search and many maps are tagged with difficulties or themes. The online search criteria is robust enough to find plenty to enjoy and it really extends the games lifespan. Whilst I could see the potential for DLC with other time period objects being added, you won’t get bored easily if you get the creation itch for now.
Lastly, I’d like to mention something that often goes unnoticed in games and that is what I call tactile sound design. Most objects have little noises that come with them and so as you go around poking and prodding different objects you’ll hear them squeak, eek, bang, pop and rustle. It is such a simple thing but its been really well implemented throughout the game.
Hidden Through Time
Where's Wally for the computer generation. A gentle joy to play and create with.
Hand-drawn art is adorable.
Create mode is intuitive and you see results quickly.
Online sharing of maps means a long lifespan if you get sucked in!
Manually sorting online maps can be a bit time consuming when it returns you back the default settings everytime.
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