Game Review: When The Past Was Around

WHEN THE PAST WAS AROUND
Developer: Mojiken
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide Games
Release Date: 16 December 2020 (Switch)
Genre: Puzzle
Platform: Switch
RRP: $12.95 AUD

When the Past was Around is an adventure point-and-click puzzle game about love, moving on, letting go, and the joy and pain of everything in between.

This is the story of Eda, a girl in her early 20s.
Like anyone in her age, she’s lost.
She lost her way in the journey to achieve her dreams.
She lost her way in the journey to find love.

That until she met The Owl.

The man that would help her burn her passion,
the man that would help her find the spark in a relationship,
and also the man that would teach her about heartbreak.

The game tells a bittersweet tale between a girl and her lover in a surreal world consisting of disjointed rooms from memories and time. With each gathered clue, solved puzzles, and unlocked door, the girl will find her way, unraveling the secrets between her and her lover, the secrets which she used to know.

This is a gorgeous hand-animated point and click puzzle game based on a young woman learning to move on after the death of her lover, a violinist.

The gameplay is really simple. With it being point and click, you have to explore the still scene and hover your pointer over action items to move on to the next step. I played this docked to my TV using a Pro Controller, so it was a bit clunky. I might have enjoyed it more if I had switched to handheld mode, or played it on a Switch Lite. I also believe this would work well in its original PC version, or even a tablets.

There is no voice acting in this, there is not even subtitles, and all storytelling is done through the animation and music.

The graphics are really beautiful, if a little strange. Something is a little off-kilter, because it’s stylised as hand drawn, so the proportions are ever so slightly off. But it gives the whole aesthetic a very otherworldly, dreamy vibe which I really enjoyed. The lover takes on the form of a man with an owl’s head, which seems really odd at first, but I’m pretty sure it’s symbolic since owls and birds are a recurring theme. However, at one point, Owl rolls up his shirt sleeves and instantly becomes 100x hotter, so that’s something.

The storytelling was mainly told through the soundtrack used in the game, in conjunction with the animation. This was a story told through music. The soundtrack was absolutely lovely, very chill and relaxing. It had a recurring motif running through the entire game. It used piano, woodwind, and strings, and is just nice to have as background music. Each ‘level’ had its own song, so although there was a recurring motif, it didn’t seem repetitive. I think the soundtrack was definitely one of the stand outs from this game.

This game is super cozy. It’s short, only around 2 hours, and can be completed in a single evening, absolutely perfect to curl up under a blanket with on a cold winter’s night. The puzzles are mostly pretty straightforward and logical, although there was a few times I had to quickly look up a walkthrough to complete one. This is mostly related to my own tendency to overthink things, as the answer was much simpler than I thought it was! There were a few really lovely puzzles about music, which was nice, since it was the tether than linked Eda and Owl together.

Normally this kind of game would have me crying inconsolably by the end, but it lacked a certain emotional punch – I think because it relied so heavily on the drawings to tell the story, rather than having any voice acting or text to read, and the focus was on healing rather than grief. It was still lovely, but I, the most emotional and easily triggered to cry person I know, did not cry upon finishing this – though I did feel a lump in my throat at times!

This was a very sweet and short game that I bought while on sale, and it was a nice way to spend an evening, and well worth exploring.

All video games are purchased by myself or gifted from a friend.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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