True love feels elusive to those who want it and fleeting to those who have it, but to everyone it is something to be treasured because it is a rare occurrence. The Indonesian studio Mojiken has partnered with Toge Productions to release When The Past Was Around. They are known for A Raven Monologue and She & The Light Bearer and if you ever played one of Mojiken’s game you will be familiar with their stupendous artwork. When The Past Was Around is an amazing point & click with a touching narrative about love, pain and letting go of the past.
The game is about a young women in her 20s named Eda. Like many others who are just beginning their lives, she is a bit lost and looking for something that will give her life meaning. That is until she met Owl. Owl is a musician, like Eda, he also play the violin. From the moment they meet they know that they belong together. When The Past Was Around is all about the story so without giving away too much after their budding romance we are shown their life together. However, something happens and their love is cut short. Unfortunately their romance was not meant to last and Eda has to live with that new reality. She has to deal with the pain and learn how to let go of the past while keeping and cherishing the beautiful memories that are left.
The artwork is simply stunning. The graphics are made using a series of hand-drawn images. The drawings are exceptional and the artist is obviously extremely talented. For that alone When The Past Was Around is worth playing. I love the overall style and how well each image conveys the story. The colors are nice and soft for most of the game to represent their love story and all the emotions it evokes. There are also several darker scenes representing the pain and emotional turmoil Eda felt. It takes a certain talent for a developer to communicate their story through visuals alone. When The Past Was Around does not have any written or spoken narrative, but despite that it still manages to convey its narrative fairly well. It is part of the game’s charm.
The soundtrack, like the artwork, is exceptional. The music is powerful and again really good at portraying the emotional narrative. Additionally, parts of the music are played by a real violinist. What a marvelous detail to add! It gives more credibility to the story since this game is all about the senses. Furthermore it adds a tremendous amount of personality to the game.
When The Past Was Around can be finished in about two to three hours, if you take your time. The game is divided into five chapters plus a prologue. Every chapter deals with a certain phase in Eda’s life from her meeting with Owl, through their life together and more. Each chapter is composed of many different locations. Every one of these locations is set up a bit like one of those “Escape room” type puzzles. Each room/location has several puzzles that need to be completed before moving on. However, certain areas also have some puzzles where you will need to backtrack a room or two. Otherwise When The Past Was Around is still mostly linear.
The puzzles are interesting and the majority of them are fitting rather well into the storyline. It is not the kind of game where you will be confounded by a puzzle. They are always logical and easily solvable by reasoning alone. Most of them involve finding a specific object or deciphering a code. The fact that the puzzles are on the easy side actually works to its advantage, because it means the flow of the game is never broken by an overly hard puzzle that you get stuck on. On the other hand, the uncomplicated puzzles and the fact that there is only one solution for each means that there is not much reason to do a second playthrough. Overall the developer did a good job of using each puzzle to add value to the game and enhance its narrative. They are beautifully crafted and perfect in their simplicity.
When The Past Was Around is a timeless and universal story that will reach everyone regardless of their ages. The artwork is simply breathtaking. It was a treat to play and one of the best point & click games that I have experienced this year. The superb aesthetics, the hauntingly beautiful music and the simplicity of its puzzles work in complete unison and perfectly complement the amazing story. Whether you are a fan of point & click or new to the genre, When The Past Was Around is ideal for everyone and a perfect introduction to the genre. There is no replayability value, unless you want to relive the story, but do not let that stop you. When The Past Was Around is a real gem. Once in awhile you come across a game that stays with you long after you have finished playing it, When The Past Was Around is just such a game!
Written by Vee