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Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic Review

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Your average hidden object game has very little to do with lost items. Take the most common of them: the Artifex Mundi hidden object games. There are Where’s Wally-like scenes to rummage through, but they’re sidelined by story, point-and-click adventuring and puzzles. Very rarely does the hidden object stuff amount to more than a tenth of the game. 

Hidden Through Time says bah humbug to that. Rather than let story or puzzles take the front seat, it’s a giant lost-and-found. Hopping from one era to the next, it simply lays out a shopping list of items to find alongside a picture to spot them in, and says ‘have at it’. There’s no real story, no puzzles, not even an ending screen. Just a lot of cats, apples and ghosts to spot.

Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic keeps the same focus. This is very much a hidden object game. The main difference is that the definition of ‘Time’ in the title is very loosely applied this time out. You’re heading to Greek myth, Arabian Nights, a traditional fantasy setting, and a kind of parallel version of the 1980s where all of your favourite 80’s movies are real. It’s more of a dimensional hop, but ‘Hidden Through Dimensions’ probably doesn’t roll off the tongue as smoothly. 

hidden through time 2 review 1
Hidden Throught Time 2 – very much a hidden object game

Each of these chapters has eight scenes to pick through with a fine comb, growing in size and complexity. That amounts to thirty-two levels in total – an amount that Hidden Through Time players will know is substantial. We spent a good dozen hours playing Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic, and we haven’t found absolutely everything yet. And if it has the same taste for DLC like the original game, we’ll be playing a whole lot more of it in the future, too.

The jewel in Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic’s crown is the art. It may not be as painterly or detailed as other hidden object games, nor is it particularly colourful, but it more than makes up for it with clarity and character. That clarity is needed because you can’t see the whole level on one screen. You’re zooming into small corners of villages and islands, trying to find the tiniest of items, and the art holds up. No matter how much you zoom in, it all has the same sharp quality. And there’s humour in those details, as everything’s been placed very carefully to imply something about the characters who own them. 

Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic goes one step further than the previous game in terms of telling something close to an ‘implied’ story. Each level comes with a toggle now, allowing you to skip forward or backward in time. You might see the night before, or the rainy consequences of the current scene. The designers have a whale of a time with this, as you can see a village both pre- and post-zombie invasion, or you can see a party and its hangover. But it’s the details that are the most effective. We loved how a father waved goodbye to his son, only to skip forward and see the father dancing with his wife now that the kid’s gone. We hope our parents didn’t do that when we went to university.

The addition of two time-zones is great for telling a story, but not so hot for the hidden objecting (you could say we ‘object’ to it, groan). Items are found in one of the two time zones, and on the rare occasion in both. This is at best fiddly, as you’re scanning the bottom row of items, trying to sort which is in the time-zone and which isn’t. Why on earth Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic didn’t filter or colour-code the items, we don’t know: it would have been so easy to have Time #1 items on the left and Time #2 on the right. 

hidden through time 2 review 2
There’s some time shifting in this one

But at its worst, you are scanning the same old areas – which don’t change all that much – two times over, on the off chance that a single item has been added. The scenes are great, but we’re not convinced they are worth scanning twice. The time-skipping really only works when the scenes change dramatically. A necromancer taking over an island, turning the living to the dead, is a highlight because the differences are quite literally night and day. Adding some rain into the equation, so that people pop inside? Not so much.

Still, the basic hunting and clicking works well, just as it did in the first Hidden Through Time. There are helpful text hints if you hover over an item, and – most of the time – they give you just enough information to narrow their location. A bat might mention that it’s ‘made a new friend’. It’s living where someone else is living, and the tone of the hint means that it’s more of an unusual friend, rather than just more bats. When you are left with one or two things to find, these hints can be just enough to get by.

We could have done with more help from the images themselves, though. While they are sharp and aren’t pixelated in any way, they’re also small. We didn’t remember having this issue in the first game, but some items are tiny, and that becomes a challenge on occasion. When something is so small that you’re resorting to the hint for a clue of what it actually is, then that’s not a great object to find. 

Stacking on top of that is a propensity for hidden objects that have a tiny deviation from all the other objects in the scene. Say you’ve got to find a diamond. There are loads of diamonds in a particular Scrooge McDuck-like vault, but you need the exact one with the right number of facets and orientation for it to trigger. It sounds like fun, but it very rarely was: there will be diamonds that look exactly like the one you’re after, but Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic will say ‘nuh-uh’.

hidden through time 2 review 3
What will you find down at the beach?

And did the items have to be so bland? You’ll be looking for items that are common in every other scene except this one. If they were unique, we can’t help think that the finding process would be more fun. It would be “wait a minute – I haven’t seen that before!”, rather than “wait a minute – I’ve seen that hundreds of times before”. 

So, we have quibbles, little issues with Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic, all of which irk us. They build up, not to the degree that we didn’t enjoy ourselves. But enough that we tutted and huffed and wondered why a sequel didn’t iron them out. Perhaps the reason they weren’t ironed out is that, by doing so, the game would have been that bit easier to complete. And there’s an argument to be made for retaining the difficulty. Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic is challenging, frustratingly so at points if you really, really want the last achievements. But that makes it a meatier prospect than other hidden object games on the Xbox. 

So, while the things we were searching for annoyed us on occasion – too mundane to find, too small to spot easily – the scenes themselves made up for them. As you’re hunting for hidden objects, there will always be a cunning detail or a cheeky joke that makes you raise a tankard and toast the artists. Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic is more of the same, but it really is a whole lot more, and that more is created with real care.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Painstakingly detailed scenes
  • Stacked with stuff
  • Past and present mechanic leads to great moments
Cons:
  • Items are small and mundane
  • Searching scenes twice isn’t all that fun
  • Could have done with more colour
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Rogueside
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 25 January 2024 | £TBC
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Painstakingly detailed scenes</li> <li>Stacked with stuff</li> <li>Past and present mechanic leads to great moments</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Items are small and mundane</li> <li>Searching scenes twice isn’t all that fun</li> <li>Could have done with more colour</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Rogueside</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 25 January 2024 | £TBC</li> </ul>Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic Review
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