If you’re a fan of Where’s Wally, then you’ve probably been waiting your whole life for a video game that recreates the same fun as the classic book series. Thankfully, Hidden Through Time is here to save the day, and with 26 levels spanning four time periods, you’ll have more than your fill of spotting and clicking on obscured objects before the end.
Let me just say that again; this is a game about spotting and clicking on objects in the game world. Each of the ever-larger levels consists of a busy scene such as a stone-age village, a medieval army camp centred around a banquet, or a bustling Wild West town. Whilst the game begins with levels that fit easily on a normal television, it isn’t long before you’ll need to pan right out and zoom into specific sections to spot your quarry.
As the levels roll on, the number of items you need to spot increases as well. Some levels have ten or more items to find, and there are over two hundred items total across the whole game. Each item comes with a description that acts like a clue — some of which are fairly ingenious. I really don’t want to provide any spoilers, but each one is designed to give you some idea of where to look, and in general, they make good sense once you find the item in question.
Visually, Hidden Through Time is very simple. The art is bold and colourful, with objects and people displayed with bold outlines and solid features. The real marvel here is how each map scales from the furthest zoom level to the much closer view that’s needed to catch objects that are well hidden. The zooming itself isn’t smooth on bigger maps, and moving the camera when zoomed out is sluggish — probably because we’re looking at some ultra, ultra high-resolution images,
The music that accompanies each level is catchy and thankfully just about mundane enough to blend into the background. I can’t say that I ever felt compelled to listen to it particularly, and Hidden Through Time is most certainly the kind of game that you can play whilst listening to music of your own choice.
One quite nice feature is the online mode, which allows players to make their own maps to share with others. I’ve had a go of a few maps shared by others and had fun, but I’ll have to admit that I found making my own map very fiddly on an Xbox controller. Whilst this feature isn’t really my cup of tea, I can certainly see how some players might really enjoy it, especially younger ones.
Whilst Hidden Through Time is basically exactly what it says on the tin — a digital hide and seek set around four historical themes — it does have a couple of issues. One issue is that you’ll need to be incredibly precise with your clicking, and I sometimes found that even when I had located an item, it took a lot of clicking on or around it for the game to actually detect that I had found it.
And that, really, is that. Hidden Through Time is neither big, nor complicated. It takes the simplest of ideas and implements it pretty well in the main. Yes, there are some frame rate issues during zooming on the bigger maps, and the detection of some of the clicks can be a little bit hit and miss, but it’s still a fun experience. This is either a relaxing and non-confrontational experience for adults, or a time-consuming and semi-educational experience for kids — but only if they are of reading age and not easily frustrated.