Hidden Through Time 2020: Review
March 12th, 2020
Join Clicky on his wondrous adventure in Hidden Through Time.
Unleash your creativity.
Create and edit online maps.
Create your very own levels and share them on the cloud.
Hidden Through Time is a hide-and-seek game with objects scattered throughout our world’s fascinating past. As you explore the colorful hand-drawn levels, use cryptic hints to uncover every secret. Make your way through the four great ages by collecting enough objects to move to the next stage.
We’d seen “Hidden Folks” mentioned in several reviews, and this game is a bright and perhaps more rudimentary version of that. There is, however, a valid justification for this primitivism. Hidden Through Time is primarily a presentation of the possibilities afforded by the in-game map editor. While the levels of Hidden Folks are independently produced and contain a range of riddles, Hidden Through Time is essentially a showcase of the possibilities offered by the in-game map editor. The fact that the levels are constructed from a single pool of building pieces available to anyone with a creative vein contributes to the game’s simplicity in terms of playability. That is why they encourage community participation and show off what the community has accomplished on a regular basis.
Hidden Through Time does exactly what it promises: it takes you through several time periods in search of objects from a setlist on a large image. To add to the challenge, these items are sometimes partially concealed, blend in with the landscape, or have other items on the image that appear like them. The designs are cute, albeit monotonous, but they do allow you to make your own maps (a game option we haven’t tried and have no desire to try, but one that we imagine may appeal to the more creative players). The game includes an in-game hint system that provides a pointer as to where to look without giving too much away.
We haven’t used the map editor because we’re not particularly creative, and we’re unlikely to do so in the future – but we’ve seen maps in Hidden Through Time that appear to have been created by children, implying that the editor has an extremely user-friendly interface. There are some very entertaining user-generated maps created by gamers who know how to make a level interesting. There’s bound to be some chaff, but you can simply avoid it by sorting community maps by rating. Because the community is so active, there is never a shortage of content for those who are frantic to scratch their “hidden object” itch.
The conflicted emotions stem from our subjective belief that the game could have been so much more. Obviously, the game is under no responsibility to live up to our expectations by including features that were never promoted, but we are disappointed nonetheless. It would be unreasonable to rate the Hidden Through Time game based on these assumptions, which is why the answer remains yes – but we’d still like to discuss our feelings.
To design the game levels, the developers clearly explored many historical and mythological “worlds.” The Viking series of levels, in particular, pleasantly surprised us with nods to true Viking mythology, such as the boar that falling heroes feast on in Valhalla or the goat whose milk they drink. We believe that adding small informative morsels to each map would have enhanced the experience. Clicking on non-findable items currently only produces a sound from a small library. Educational pop-ups could improve the game’s gameplay value, such as there are 5 teaching moments on this map; attempt to find them all. Even a non-gamified method of sharing such knowledge, such as attaching markers to key items that reveal entertaining tidbits when clicked on, would have been intriguing. Why not share your findings with your players, since the research has already been done?
We believe that a minor tweak to the UI of the Hidden Through Time game would have improved it. We kept mousing over the things to view an enlarged image because we couldn’t always tell what we were looking for – however mousing over the item you need to find pops up a suggestion as to where you can find it. So we had to stand up and squint to see that what we were looking for was a pendant, not some strange blob.
While we recognize that this would have made the Hidden Through Time game more difficult – and certainly annoying – being able to “see behind” stuff like trees and shrubs to detect badly concealed items would have been interesting. You can only “see inside” buildings at the moment, and clicking on trees makes the same rustling sound. It was also odd that the player could gaze inside a building but not inside a chest within the same structure. We can definitely manage it if we’ve played enough RPGs to become habitual in-game looters.