Ever notice how at certain points in time, the right thing comes along to help you out? Whether it’s a movie, book, piece of music or whatever the case, it’s something that provides a cathartic feeling that just helps you step away from everything around you. In some ways, that is exactly what When the Past was Around managed to achieve, launching at the end of 2020, a particularly stressful and worrying time for many, this is a point-and-click puzzle game about love, moving on, letting go, and the joy and pain of everything in between that provides a relaxing yet engaging dose of escapism despite its short playtime.
Lost time is never found again.
We play as a character called Eda, a girl in her twenties who has become lost in her life as she struggles to deal with certain events. We guide Eda through her story as she discovers ways to let go of her grief and sorrow and come to terms with the cold hands of time. To do so we had to explore pieces of her past in flashback scenarios to understand who she is, what was her story and most importantly, what leads her to the situation she currently finds herself in, this is achieved by finding clues and solving a series of puzzles within these dreamlike sequences with the goal to locate a feather at the end of each level in order to progress.
If playing relaxing games is your thing then look no further, everything about this title is designed to be inoffensive, from the fantastic hand-drawn art and animations to the sublime music score that plays a large part, not only to increase the ambience of the piece but also as a key focus point for Eda’s story and will be a driving point for many scenarios. The catchy tune that repeats regularly will stay with you long after the credits have rolled on this one.
Clean presentation and easy on the eyes.
When the past was around doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with its point and click mechanics, everything is set up for ease of use whether playing traditionally with a controller or utilising the Nintendo Switch’s touchscreen. Areas are open and spaced out enough to keep presentation easy on the eyes and allow for unobstructed exploration. Most situations will require you to locate a series of specific objects in order to progress which can be achieved by investigating the surrounding area.
Early on you are in a hallway area and must find a way to open a sealed box, by clicking on items you will eventually reveal that there is a key to a desk hidden under a rug, drag the key over the desk and the draw will unlock and open revealing a cutting knife, drag the knife to the box to cut the tape and reveal the required item. All straight forward stuff that varies in complexity as the game rolls on but never strays away from the simple formula.
Though most puzzles and areas can be achieved just by clicking on everything and doing some good old fashioned trial and error, some of the solutions do turn out to be a bit bonkers and almost defy logic, this could annoy some players but the key thing to remember is you are experiencing dream-like flashbacks, so don’t expect reality to be normal, after all, you spend most of the game talking to a bloke who has an owls head.
When the past was around is a perfect title to sit back and enjoy in one solid session, it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours to get through though it is nicely broken up into chapters if you wish to play it in more bite-sized chunks. The loading is swift and if you are playing on the Switch, we highly recommend you play in handheld using the touch screen controls which lend themselves perfectly to the experience.
We weren’t entirely sure what to expect from When the Past was Around but we were pleasantly surprised by the emotionally driven story that was woven into this point and click adventure. If you are looking for something to help you unwind or just break away from things going on around you, you could do a lot worse than trying this one out.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo
Release Date: 15/12/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Puzzle
Developer: Toge Productions
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop