A combination of Where’s Waldo and hidden objects games, Hidden Through Time by Crazy Monkey Studios is a thematic romp through human history that tasks the player with finding a variety of elusive objects, animals, and people in fun cartoony scenes. Object hunting is a departure from the studio’s previous game genres, which were the two Guns, Gore and Cannoli games (platform shooters) and War Party (RTS), but Hidden Through Time is very polished. Their latest outing falls firmly into the casual side of gameplay and much like that game style, it has a built-in “one more level” compulsion that’ll keep you from wanting to go back to whatever you were doing before.
Definitely a bonus for me was that for the first time since Dead or Alive 3 on the OG Xbox my wife picked up a controller. So far it’s been a group effort, and I have to admit, it’s a much better experience for it. We’ve both been finding stuff that the other is missing and there’s been a bunch of “a-ha!” moments when a clever find happens and some serious group commiseration when that one last thing is stubbornly remaining hidden. If this game type interests you, feel free to play with anyone, as there isn’t a drop of blood, any discernible dialog, and anything non-cute. Be warned though that the later maps on each level get extremely crowded and little ones will find their eyes crossing and their patience waning. Also, the game is tons harder without the clues for each item or person/animal, and the clues could be too cryptic for younger players.
The levels I mentioned encompass the four “great ages” of history. I’ve seen prehistoric, ancient civilizations, and medieval so far, and the last is the modern age. Regardless of what historic age is being played, the graphics style keeps each fresh and interesting. To keep things fresh after the game ends, Hidden Through Time comes with a map editor and there are plenty of user-made offerings already available. To be sure, not every online map has the polish that the stock ones do, but there aren’t too many duds. Luckily each map has a “like” score voted on by other gamers, which makes the bad ones easily avoidable. After completing it, you can add your own vote to the tally. That vote is also important because if you’re chasing the achievement complete 50 online maps – which you’ll simply need to grind out – you’ll waste a lot of time playing some stinkers without the rankings to guide you.
Crazy Monkey Studios has released their newest game on pretty much every available platform, and I have to guess that there was a lot of motivation to make the game as universally appealing as possible. That might seem like the obvious magic recipe for success, and I guess it is. Casual players won’t find the game super-challenging and more serious gamers will play either to grab the achievements or to take a break from more intense games. I played on a large screen television and I honestly can’t fathom finding some of the tiniest objects on a handheld device. A few of them were so small and so camouflaged, it took minutes to find them with two people looking.
The usual remarkable things folks look for in reviews, like controls, music, and graphics are all apropo to the type of game Hidden Through Time is. Nothing about it is complicated, so the control scheme doesn’t need to be, the music is more background and non-distracting, and the MVP, the graphics, are simple, bright, and engaging (BTW, by “simple” I mean that they don’t have or need photorealism or fancy shaders). So while nothing screams “this is groundbreaking and amazing!”, everything exudes perfection for what it is.
Hidden Through Time has the secret sauce for what makes a game universal. It’s uncomplicated, fun, appropriate for everyone, and can be played in small chunks. For a hidden object/person game, I don’t see it being better than this. Crazy Monkey Studios does a great job of landing exactly on target on delivering exactly what you see, of which not all companies can boast. Highly recommended.