Who doesn’t like a good hidden object game? It’s the premise that’s kept Where’s Wally/Waldo going for as long as he has, and spawned numerous copycats that are equally enjoyable and creative with their devious secretion of similar coloured items in a playful world. With this in mind Hidden Through Time appears on consoles, PCs and mobiles alike to draw your eyes and confound them, forcing you to scour each pixel to find the objective. Can it manage to make enough of an impression and be in the running to become part of your usual screen time, or will it get missed amongst the masses of other apps and games vying for your attention?
Hidden Through Time has a really simple premise – search the big picture to find all the objects shown in the little pictures at the bottom. You move the cursor (in the PC and console versions at least), zoom in and out, and click on the item that matches. Easy? Yes. And no. The key to this type of game is making the objects tricky to distinguish from the background and putting them with other like shapes so it tricks the eye. Some of the items to hunt are so small that even getting as close as possible isn’t always helpful, so there’s an addition of clues to help track down where things might be. Highlighting an object brings up a piece of text that gives some direction which will mostly be straightforward, and helps pinpoint an area or activity where it might have been placed. Find it, click it, job’s a good ‘un, on to the next. Find enough items and the next level opens and it’s either finish off what’s still being sneaky or move on.
Progression typically brings about larger and more densely populated maps with more objects to find. Getting an era complete sees the next stages evolve and step up chronologically from prehistoric times through to the wild west. With around 5 maps per period, Hidden Through Time shows a surprising amount of variety and flare as it gets more challenging. Unlike its physical counterparts, there’s interaction with every object, whether that’s noises or a direct change to them, and of course the scenes aren’t static either. Watch dancing characters, light fires, tickle dinosaurs, or take the walls off castles – each sound effect or change in animation is appropriate as well as charming. There’s a nicely soothing soundtrack too with the music helping to keep things chilled out regardless of how annoying it is to not be able to find the last item in a level.
Admittedly it won’t take too long to work through the story levels and find everything it’s asking for, but the longevity here is in the map creator and online system. Given a blank template it’s possible to build any scene in the editor (using the in-game models available of course), set items to for others to find, and even create cryptic clues to go with them. Then it’s simply save and upload to let the world try and find everything. There are hundreds of user created maps to go at, and within the confines of the game they’re usually pretty good, which isn’t something that’s said for many titles. If you’ve been hooked by the core gameplay then there’s limitless potential for more Hidden Through Time action, even if you just want that to be locally rather than spread across the globe. Just be aware that there are no language hints when downloading a map, so be prepared with Google Translate.
It’s a neat idea presented wonderfully and suitable for all ages. My 3 year daughter has loved searching the screen and pointing at the objects almost as much as her mother. Hidden Through Time has been a bit of a family hit. There’s nothing complicated at play, no secret agenda or difficult conundrums to decipher, it’s just pure fun, and the additional community levels too are a bonus. It’s a straightforward, engaging and colourful distraction from the day-to-day grind.
A PS4 review copy of Hidden Through Time was provided by Crazy Monkey Studios PR team, and the game is available now on nearly all systems for around £6, depending on the platform.