Game Review: When the Past was Around
Point and clicks on the Switch, who knew?
Over the weekend I managed to actually play a game. The boys needed me to log into one of the Switches so they could reinstall something when I noticed a game I played last year called Coffee Talk. If you have not played that I highly suggest you do, it’s also a weekend long game which these days is the only kind of game I really have time to even bother starting. (Heads up game devs, not everything needs to be 60+ hours minimum and this is a prime example.)
So when I went to reinstall Coffee Talk from the available downloads I clicked the name of their publisher to see what else they had done in the past year. That’s when this little hand drawn beauty popped up. When the Past was Around is a basic point and click adventure game with far from basic visuals, music, and story. The guys in my litfic discord were looking for examples of “litfic” in games and I think this one would count. It’s as also, like, a whole seven dollars in the online Nintendo game shop so I figured I’d give it a try.
The first point and click I ever played was actually Virtuaverse by the Master Boot Record guys. (My computer in High School wasn’t strong enough for Monkey Island and all that, sorry to disappoint everyone.) I’ve mostly been a console person so the world of the point and click puzzle adventures are still very new to me. Anyway, I downloaded the game and played through it on the Switch while cooking dinner.
This is a screenshot from the game, all those hand drawn items are the bits you click around to look for clues to progress the story. You play as a sort of third person figure watching this girl named Eda go through various points in her past and memories of her time with a guy with an Owls head. There is no dialog as the whole story is very centered on the music that is played. You often tap little music notes, the main characters both play the violin, it’s just a very auditory focused story. It’s also heavy on the cozy milky coffee indoor plants 72 degrees outside with no bugs nostalgia aesthetic… even when it takes the dark turns.
There are some decent little puzzles through the game, nothing wild but I would grab a scrap of paper to jot down any symbols or music notes you notice on a table or whatever so you don’t have to back track through three chapters just to unlock a cooler later. Most gaming folk I know would claim this is too short, but I think given the weight of the story it doesn’t need to be crammed with hours of filler. It’s just right. Think of it as a short story you can play through in an afternoon.
It was nice to play on the Switch, I didn’t have issues tapping any tiny items and you can easily use the joysticks if you want to be precise. There is no rush, any important events happen as cut scenes between the puzzle piece hunting. But yeah, the art is great, the story isn’t a canned heroes journey, and it’s short enough to be completed in a couple of hours. The owl head guy is just a fun style choice I think, kind of a placeholder for anyone you want it to be and obviously symbolic for the characters. That or the artist is into bird fellas, which is none of my business.
10/10 will play more games by these folks.