There’s always a story to tell in all relationships, and there are powerful ones in relationships where love is involved. There’s excitement when you first meet one another, happiness during the good times, and there’s heartbreak during the bad times. In the recently released Nintendo Switch game, When the Past was Around, this type of emotional rollercoaster is what you’ll be witnessing as you follow the story of two lovers.
When the Past was Around introduces you to a story between chapters of a young woman trying to find herself in the world. When she discovers her passion for music, she also finds an owl man who becomes her lover. The chapters tell a story from how they met, how their love for each other blossoms, and a tragedy that rips them apart. It also follows the arduous feat of picking up and moving on from such a devastating blow.
I really dig the simplistic hand-drawn art style of When the Past was Around. There was an attention to detail that you can see when they’re depicting a certain type of feeling, like black feathers during the grim chapters or when the girl is wearing a rosy pink dress during the fun times. The game also utilizes a music motif in both the art and soundtrack that synchronizes well with the lovers’ journey.
Gameplay-wise, When the Past was Around, is a point-and-click game. In each of the chapters, you guide the girl through a series of gates, which are often locked in order to proceed through the storyline. In order to unlock these gates, you will have to find items and use them on certain ones, and sometimes you will have to solve puzzles. The puzzles are 80% to 90% simple, and the rest you may have to use your head (or a walkthrough) to complete. There is a hint button if you get stuck on a puzzle, but the hint button is only good in showing you what items in the scene you can interact with and not how to solve puzzles (so technically, it’s not really a hint per se).
In the first couple of chapters, you will have to guide the girl through one gate/scene to progress the story. In later chapters, you will have to go through two to three scenes, more often needing to go through previous scenes to complete puzzles just like you would during an elaborate escape-room-type of game. Though the puzzles are simple, the scenes are richly detailed.
When the Past was Around can be completed in about three hours, and there’s a chapter select after experiencing the whole story once. But its brevity belies its quality. If you’re looking for a good heartfelt story while itching for casual gaming, this is a game I would recommend.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
When the Past was Around
Solve Simple Puzzles While Diving into an Emotional Love Story
+Nice hand-drawn art style with attention to detail +Powerful story of finding love and losing it +Simple point-and-click puzzles