Crazy Monkey Studios are no strangers to developing games, having successfully delivered a bloody great double dose of action-packed, run and gun platforming to the masses with the Guns, Gore and Cannoli series. Their latest project however sees the adrenaline-pumping body dismemberment traded in for a relaxing exercise that’s more akin to the “Where’s Wally?” puzzle books of yesteryear. That’s right, Hidden Through Time appears to be a modern spin on the antics of Britain’s greatest hide and seek champion. So, is Hidden Through Time a cheap, cheerful and chilled out hidden object experience that can fill that void during breaks from the big budget games, or is it a poor homage to a long-forgotten chap who had terrible fashion sense?
Fortunately for Crazy Monkey Studios, they’ve released their game at a time when a calming medium of any kind is welcome. There’s no doubt Hidden Through Time brings enough positives to the table for you to take notice of, but let me explain about what it does well and where it could potentially have done a little better with the concept.
The premise is a rather straightforward one: essentially you’re tasked with scouring cartoony hand-drawn environments for a number of objects or people that have been hidden. That’s why it’s reminiscent of the old “Where’s Wally” books where you’d need to find the titular Wally as well as a wizard and his dog, amongst other things. These provided a really relaxing activity for many youths and adults back then; an essence which Hidden Through Time captures too. There are no time limits, you can come and go as you please, and it’s not stupidly difficult.
At the heart of the game is the Story Mode and in total there are 26 levels here, each providing different designs and separate objective lists to complete. Starting off in the Stone Age period featuring cavemen and dinosaurs, you’ll then flash forward to an Egyptian setting before entering Medieval times and, eventually, end up docking your wagon in the Old West. As such, one level may require you to find a dinosaur egg or a chunk of meat, while another could set you on a hunt for gold, guns and explosives. It’s good to see plenty of variety when it comes down to the items, buildings and people that are suited to each of the time periods. Despite containing a decent amount of levels to work through however, there are only those four themes throughout and it could do with a few more in truth.
What’s great is how easy it is to pick up and play, with you only needing to move a cursor around before clicking on the relevant items to check them off the list. An option to zoom in and out is a welcome bonus to anyone struggling to spot the often well-hidden items. That’s come in handy many times as I’ve failed to spot a sneaky little snake peaking out of a bush or a rogue banana in an unlikely area. Luckily, it also gives a short and often cryptic description of what you’re searching for, ensuring there’s enough of a hint in place to avoid potentially long spells of frustration from unsuccessfully locating said item.
The similarities between Hidden Through Time and Wally’s adventures are clear, but there are a couple of nuances that are only possible because it’s a game and these make the already fun designs come to life. The people and animals benefit due to varying degrees of animation being implemented, with a whole host of silly sounds emerging from them when interaction occurs by you as well. Furthermore, places like pyramids, tents, houses and even coffins can be clicked on, which opens them up to be another possible area for hidden items to lurk. It all adds to the thoroughly enjoyable experience.
The length of time taken to complete the Story Mode may only be a few hours at best, Crazy Monkey Studios have included the tools for the community to create their own maps to share online. Already there are tons of designs to tackle, ranging from the incredibly tough yet wonderfully creative types, to the half-hearted efforts conjured up merely for folks to earn achievements from. Having the ability to design your own is a terrific feature, but the UI and overall feel to the editing mode is less than intuitive.
That’s all there is to Hidden Through Time on Xbox One, which isn’t a problem in the slightest as it does the job it set out to do. This is a colourful hidden object game suitable for a wide audience to enjoy, with fun and recognisable themes present to add character to proceedings. Sure, it’d be nice for a few more time periods to feature in order to provide extra variety and the map editor is a tad overwhelming, but it’s not the end of the world. The fact that it’s pretty darn cheap at £6.69 makes up for that; you aren’t shedding out much cash in return for the chance to just chill out and give your grey matter a gentle workout.
Whether hidden object escapades are your thing, or not, Hidden Through Time should be given a whirl. All you need to do now is go find it!