Hidden Through Time by Crazy Monkey Studios is a casual hidden object game for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch, with iOS and Android versions also coming out this week. We played the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
There are few games that waste as little time as this one when it comes to presenting its core concepts. Hidden Through Time is about finding objects inside hand-drawn and subtly animated scenes, and that’s really all you need to know to get started. Its main mode is a ‘story’ mode, but there’s little to speak of in terms of an actual narrative. Instead, you’re presented with a scene and a few objects you need to find within, and from there on you’re on your own.
You can find subtle hints by highlighting the various objects you’re searching for, but your best tool is probably your ability to zoom into a scene and view it in greater detail. What I also learned the hard way is that some objects are just hidden from plain sight, and will require you to open up a door or lift a canvas in the scene in order to find them.
Finding enough objects unlocks the next scene in a sequence that spans four distinct time zones, the first one of which being a version of ‘stone age’ where dinosaurs and man co-exist. And while the first scene requires less than a handful of objects to be found, subsequent levels grow immensely in size and the amount of objects that are required.
At this point, searching for them becomes a meticulous task of zooming in and slowly going through every inch of the scene. This is also where Hidden Through Time becomes a different experience depending on how you play it. Use the Switch in handheld mode and you can zoom in and look for objects that way, but project the scenes onto a big television screen and it suddenly becomes something you can play together.
The visuals consist of hand-drawn objects and characters, many of which are animated inside each scene. To complement them, there is a soothing selection of music playing, driving home the point that this is meant to be a casual experience. Having said that – some objects are so obscure and non-descript that frustration can still set in despite the game’s mellow nature.
Once you’re familiar with all the scenes there is little replay value in the campaign, but Hidden Through Time also features an in-game level editor and user creations can be shared online as well. What the editor also allows for is the ability to make scenes of different difficulty levels – most of the standard ones are very hard for younger audiences even though they likely love the art style. With the editor, this becomes a casual experience for the entire family.