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At some point, we’ve all lost something or someone we loved. It may have been a friend, a partner, a passion, or any number of things inbetween. We all have to cope with love, loss, and moving on, and these feelings are the focal point of When The Past Was Around, a click-and-point puzzle game that tells the story of Eda, a young twenty-something, and her relationship with The Owl, a violinist that shows her both passion and heartache.
The game takes you from room to room, each one having a puzzle to solve to get to the next area. Each room you enter holds clues, helping you piece together memories and the story. When you hover over certain items, the cursor may turn into a question mark (things you can’t access yet) an eye (things you can examine) or a little star burst (to show you that a certain item may go there). If the cursor seems normal, you can still click around, which sometimes lets you move things or turn them on or off. My advice? Always click around as much as possible. Lots of clues are hidden in places you wouldn’t expect.
Clicking though everything also gives you a chance to delve deeper into the story. This game has beautiful, hand-drawn graphics with lots of care shown to the settings. The story is told entirely in images, so the details of scenes aid you in piecing things together. This is honestly where When The Past Was Around really shines brightest. It’s method of storytelling is superb, using visuals and music to tell a story of love, loss, letting go, and moving on. These visuals are aided by a fantastic violin soundtrack that manages to convey so much about the story as well.
When The Past Was Around tells an amazing story almost entirely through incredible visuals and gorgeous music that truly masters nonverbal storytelling in a way many don’t, and I think developers Mojiken deserves high praise for it. While there’s roughly about two hours of actual playtime, it uses them perfectly to create an emotional tale that truly resonates with you. It did with me, anyway. Despite the short play time, it makes every moment count, and it’s easily a game you’ll find yourself replaying to understand the story just a little more.