Review – Hidden Through Time

I feel that I don’t need to explain what Where’s Waldo is at this point, right? The book/game is a cultural staple, spanning through many types of media, and spawning a near infinite amount of copycats. Hidden Through Time, the brand new game developed by the same people behind Guns, Gore & Cannoli, is basically the same idea. However, there are a few twists that attempt to make it stand out from the rest of the crowd. Did it succeed though?

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Sadly, Anubis isn’t an object you’re supposed to find.

At its core, Hidden Through Time is a simple puzzle game overwhelmingly inspired by Where’s Waldo. But instead of looking for one hidden character in the middle of a messy picture, you’re tasked with finding a wide assortment of items listed on the bottom of the screen. Each icon features a very vague hint that gives you a faint idea of where in the map you should focus your search. They’re helpful for the most part, but absolutely nonsensical in some occasions. This is most notable in harder levels, when it feels that the developers were intentionally extra cryptic to make things even more complicated. Find enough items in a map and you’ll unlock the next one, but as a precaution I’d recommend only moving on after looking for all items in any given list.

This game was played on a PS4, so you may be wondering how did the developers manage to adapt what’s essentially a point-and-click kind of game into a console that doesn’t feature a touchscreen. Basically none of its games use the motion functionalities of the controller, besides Dreams. Well, you do everything with the Dualshock: use the left analog stick to move the cursor around, use the right analog stick to move the camera, X confirms and the R1 and L1 buttons zoom in and out, respectively. It would have been a somewhat decent control scheme if it wasn’t for the fact that there’s no way to calibrate the analog stick’s sensitivity. Its default setting is far from ideal and makes the overall experience a tad slower than it should be.

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Now this is just ridiculous.

It might sound like playing this game on a PS4 is completely impractical, but there’s actually an advantage. You see, visually Hidden Through Time is a complete mess. It is meant to look like a complete mess. There is too much stuff happening onscreen, and the vast majority of objects you’re supposed to find are really small. Playing this game on a large TV screen makes things a bit easier, allowing for you to check your surroundings with ease. It also makes the whole experience a bit less straining on the eyes. I really cannot imagine how painful playing Hidden Through Time on a Switch would have been.

Hidden Through Time is not a long game. Even though you’ll probably be stuck on a harder level for a while, you can complete the game and grab almost all of its trophies in less than two hours. Since levels are not randomly generated, the only thing left for you to do once you beat the game’s story mode is to tackle its puzzle creator. This is what the developers prepared in order to make Hidden Through Time last for a while; by hoping that the game will grow a sizeable community that will come up with well-thought maps of their own. A noble attempt and I really hope people decide to come up with challenging yet fair puzzles. Anyone who has played games like Mario Maker knows how devilish human beings can be.

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The guy in the left is the most embarassing McCree ever.

Hidden Through Time is best described as “okay”. It’s just a simple pastime that, although somewhat fun and useful as a mental exercise, features some poorly designed hints and not enough levels to last for more than a few hours. Its replayability factor and overall lasting value will depend on how many people end up buying it, on how many of those will bother creating custom puzzles, and how many of those will be well-designed enough for other people to bother downloading and playing. Let’s wait and see.

As a side note, please play the game on mute. It only has one song that is played ad nauseum throughout its entire run. You’ll thank me later.

 

Graphics: 6.0

It’s a visual mess, but it’s an intentional visual mess. It also features a somewhat cute, albeit tiresome, art style. Ironically enough, playing this game on a large TV screen might actually be less straining on the eyes.

Gameplay: 5.5

A very straightforward point-and-click control scheme, although you’re using the Dualshock. It doesn’t allow for users to customize the overall sensitivity of the analog sticks, however.

Sound: 3.0

This game features one single bland song that is played ad nauseum in every single level. There are also some sound effects here and there, but they are very forgettable. This game is best enjoyed on mute.

Fun Factor: 6.5

This is essentially a bigger version of Where’s Waldo in electronic form. It’s a good mental exercise, it is easy to grab all trophies, and is fun while it lasts. Sadly, it features some convoluted hints, and it doesn’t last for that long. Its lasting value will depend on the quality of its community-created puzzles.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Hidden Through Time is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch and mobile.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Hidden Through Time was provided by the publisher.