REVIEW: ‘Hidden Through Time’ Brings Waldo to Today (Xbox One)

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Hidden Through Time Cover

Hidden Through Time is a click and find game developed and published by Crazy Monkey Studios for console, PC, and mobile. The wonderfully hand-drawn game tasks players with finding objects hidden throughout each level. Players point and click their way across four eras, the Stone Age, Ancient Egypt, medieval times, and the American West.

The game sports a story mode where the player goes through increasingly difficult, larger scenarios looking for more and more obscure objects. In order to progress, you have to find a minimum number of items across all of the levels. Each item has a hint attached to help make finding it a bit easier, especially since you can’t see the whole screen at once without zooming out too far for any small object to be visible. The hints are perfectly written to be neither too revealing nor too obtuse. The background music in Hidden Through Time is also perfectly composed by Maxim Tugarev to be wonderfully calm and soothing and keep you fixated on its little world.

The best part of Hidden Through Time is how instantly reminiscent it is of Where’s Waldo. I adored those books as a kid for not just how challenging they were, but how increasingly wacky the worlds got as each book progressed. The game’s creatures, animals, and scenery are whimsical and the scenarios in the game’s story mode are comically absurd in an endearing way.  There are just enough unique assets and few enough levels to keep each one feeling fresh in each one. The way that the characters on each screen bop around add an extra layer of whimsy that perfectly rounds out the feeling this game washed over me as I played it. I also adore the sounds that every asset in the game makes when you click on it. I would click on every object I found just to see what sound and animation it made.

The sensitivity of the clicking is not perfect. I often found myself having to click numerous times on some of the smaller objects for the game to register that I found it. I suspect this is by design so that you can’t as easily go around clicking all over the place to try and get lucky. It was a bit annoying sometimes though. It also did not deter me from trying to just randomly click around the screen when my patience wore thin over a few objects I could not find. There is no penalty for random clicking. While I appreciate that you don’t have a click limit like many of the browser-based point and click games of yore, a cooldown of a few seconds for errant clicking may have been appropriate.

Hidden Through Time Gameplay

Beyond the story mode, Hidden Through Time also sports a creator mode. Players can make scenarios to their heart’s content with this mode. While there is an enormous opportunity for creativity in this mode, and I briefly experienced it through the game’s online map mode, the interface for creating levels using a controller is rough. You have to repeatedly click all over the place and press buttons over and over to add assets to the map and it just felt tedious after a while of trying. It would have benefited from automatically reselected the previous asset you placed.

Playing user-made maps was just as enjoyable as playing the story mode scenarios. Even pre-launch, some of the online levels were particularly creative, including a whole soccer match scenario. On the other side of this though, there is a horde of maps made for the sole purpose of helping players grind achievements that take five seconds to complete. The achievements in Hidden Through Time are pretty standard for a game like this. They are all tied to completing story levels, finding a certain number of objects, and completing a certain number of online maps.

With a requirement of 50 online maps to bring home the last of the online achievements, I can hardly blame players for wanting to grind through it rather than play 50 matches on their own. I will fully admit I did a bit of grinding myself and probably will do more in the future to round out this eventual completion. There is really no way to win though. If Crazy Monkey Studios did not include online achievements, far fewer people would ever play the online mode. Ultimately, I commend them for using achievements to draw people towards the mode and hopefully, people will take advantage of the creative opportunity it offers.

I enjoyed playing Hidden Through Time. It is a nice little walk down memory lane and pleasant experience that I look forward to eventually completing. Not without its flaws, this game is well-crafted. I just wish there were more than four eras to enjoy in this hand-drawn, whimsical style.

Hidden Through Time will be available on March 12 on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS, and Android.

Hidden Through Time
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

I enjoyed playing Hidden Through Time. It is a nice little walk down memory lane and a pleasant experience that I look forward to eventually completing. Not without its flaws, this game is well-crafted. I just wish there were more than four eras to enjoy in this hand-drawn, whimsical style.