We analyze When The Past Was Around, a short and silent narrative experience full of puzzles and with a story about loss, pain and overcoming.
It seems that the Indonesian developers Mojiken and Toge Productions have wanted to focus on the short and silent stories, leaving the player to recreate their own experience and open the feelings wide. After A Raven Monologue and Coffe Talk, they wanted to present When The Past Was Around, a beautiful point and click puzzle game about love, loss, pain, grief and all the improvement that lies behind it. On September 22 it could already be enjoyed for PC and in mid-December it reached the rest of the platforms, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game offers a silent narration, introducing music as the main narrative element and causing great depth in each scene they present. Despite being a captivating and melancholic story, it is a fairly short trip where we can only enjoy it for an hour and a half.
It only remains to accept the pain
Eda and Owl are a couple in love that fate wanted to unite them, although not forever. She was lost in life, she wanted to achieve her dreams, achieve true love and she achieved it, she met Owl, an anthropomorphic owl with whom she will ignite her passion, find the flame of a relationship and learn to have a broken heart. Love stories like any other story have an end, and in When The Past Was Around they wanted to present a somewhat bittersweet reality together with this young woman and her lover, and that is, despite the pain, time is the true medicine to accept and overcome pain. The game tries to overcome the past and find oneself without having to remember what makes us suffer. It will be set in a dream world with a particular melody that will be a way of expressing, feeling and communicating the narration of this story.
At first we see Eda walking slowly towards a dark, fuzzy man who is locked in a cage. When we interact with him we can release him, which causes him to get up, appear a door and disappear behind it, but not before encouraging us and inviting us to join them on a journey full of emotions and feelings that surrounds the past and the present. It may seem strange, but with the development of the story we will end up understanding what it is about and we will have an explanation for this metaphor. The later scenes will be a journey through all your memories together, emphasizing the small daily pleasures that have to do with your life, your passion and your love. However, all of them will have a relationship and a nexus that at no time will make us feel lost in the narration of the story.
A few riddles to release the past
The whole story is driven primarily to solve puzzles and understand each puzzle presented, although it is unlikely that they will pose a challenge. Composed of different levels, its gameplay will not go beyond a static image where we can move laterally and interact with the environment. It is still a classic point and click adventure, where the mouse pointer will be the one who indicates those objects that allow us to interact. However, if at some point we cannot find out with which object an action can be exercised, in the upper right we will have a drawing of a light bulb, when pressed it will highlight the access points of each important element in the scene that we are located. In addition, if the object that we are going to use is far away, the game itself will zoom in so that we have greater familiarization, we can even combine them without much difficulty.
Between room and room we will have to find out and discover different clues, even on more than one occasion we will have to write them down on a piece of paper because we will use them a little later. We will open treasure chests, we can prepare a perfect afternoon tea, we will even do the laundry. There will be various puzzles to solve and some mysteries to discover in objects and daily activities in the life of Eda and Owl. All the objects that we collect and add to our small inventory will be used and we will never have an accumulation or unnecessary objects, that is, between level and level the game starts from scratch. It will be possible to move back and forth between different scenes, but we will never control the main character, which makes that emotional impact that the game wants to direct us to get a little lost along the way.
A soundtrack as a common thread
On this occasion and with greater prominence is the sound and the great soundtrack that When The Past Was Around presents us, it establishes a beautiful atmosphere with a violin song where it will accompany us on this short trip where there will be no dialogue. You will end up humming this melody and you will be able to become a companion of each musical note with which it plays in the bars of this beautiful story and with which on more than one occasion you will have to solve a puzzle. Without a doubt, the melody will be a common thread throughout the whole story and it will become something very deep and meaningful. On the other hand, the visual style of both the backgrounds and the main characters is very beautiful and may remind us of a hand-drawn cartoon. The animations of the characters and the short scenes are simple and with a perfect color palette, making everything as a whole feel as if it were a story.
With a bittersweet story, When The Past Was Around is a very short narrative experience where it introduces us to love, pain and loss so quickly that it can be hard to assimilate. The story is silent, but it is true that it does not need words to express all the feelings that are stored and the use of a melody as a common thread is the clear example, being elegant and quite memorable. Along the way we will find some puzzles and these are not challenging at all, on the contrary, they are intuitive and easy to complete. Its visual style is another of its charms and in its entirety it causes an exciting experience.
- A captivating story.
- A very beautiful violin soundtrack.
- Attractive visual style, it looks like a story.
- Little challenging puzzles.
- Not being able to control the main character.
- Very short duration.
It meets the expectations of what a good game is, has quality and does not have serious flaws, although it is missing elements that could have taken it to higher heights.