In all relationships, there is always a story to tell, and there are powerful ones in relationships where it is about love. There is excitement when they meet for the first time, luck in good times and grief in bad times. In the recently released Nintendo Switch game, When the Past was Around, you will witness this kind of emotional roller coaster ride by following the story of two lovers.
When the Past was Around presents you with a story between the chapters of a young woman who is trying to find herself in the world. When she discovers her passion for music, she also finds an owl who becomes her lover. The chapters tell a story of how they met, how their love blossoms and a disaster that separates them. It also follows the painstaking performance of taking such a devastating blow and moving on.
I really dig the simple hand-drawn art style of the time when the past existed. There was an attention to detail that you can see when they represent a certain type of feeling, such as black feathers in dark chapters or when the girl is wearing a pink dress in funny moments. The game also uses a musical motif both in the art and in the soundtrack, which synchronizes well with the lovers’ journey.
In terms of gameplay, When the Past was Around is a Point-and-Click game. In each chapter, you guide the girl through a series of doors that are often closed to get through the plot. To open these doors, you need to find objects and use them for some, and sometimes you need to solve puzzles. The puzzles are 80% to 90% simple, and you may have to solve the rest with your head (or a complete solution). There is a hint button when you get stuck on a Puzzle, but the hint button only shows you the objects in the scene that you can interact with and not how to solve puzzles (so technically it’s not really a hint per se).
In the first chapters, you have to guide the girl through a door/scene to advance the story. In the following chapters, you will have to go through two to three scenes, going through the previous scenes more often to solve puzzles, just like in a complex escape room game. Although the puzzles are simple, the scenes are rich in detail.
When the Past was Around can be completed in about three hours, and there is a chapter selection after experiencing the whole story once. But its brevity deceives about its quality. If you are looking for a good cordial story while itching for casual games, this is a game I would recommend.