[Beyond PlayStation] When The Past Was Around Review

by the_nmac

Dealing with grief is hard, especially when it comes to loss at a young age. When the Past Was Around takes on the topic with deft precision. Learn more in our When the Past was Around review!

Something is missing from her world…
When the Past was Around is an adventure point-and-click puzzle game about love, moving on, letting go, and the joy and pain of everything in between.

This is the story of Eda, a girl in her early 20s.
Like anyone in her age, she’s lost.
She lost her way in the journey to achieve her dreams.
She lost her way in the journey to find love.

That until she met The Owl.

The man that would help her burn her passion,
the man that would help her find the spark in a relationship,
and also the man that would teach her about heartbreak.

The game tells a bittersweet tale between a girl and her lover in a surreal world consisting of disjointed rooms from memories and time. With each gathered clue, solved puzzles, and unlocked door, the girl will find her way, unraveling the secrets between her and her lover, the secrets which she used to know.

When the Past was Around from Toge Productions, Mojiken Studio, and Chorus Worldwide Games is a narrative-driven adventure game that takes on the issues of the loss of someone you love. It’s an interesting topic for a game to tackle, and I was very interested in how they would handle it since it’s not something that is easy to present and develop.

When the Past Was Around is a point and click adventure game that is definitely on the easier side of things. The studios want you to get through the story with few hiccups and not prevent you from moving forward. You will be exploring small areas with few items and places to use them. There are some light puzzles, but honestly, nothing that will make you scratch your head. There is a hint option that you can use to highlight all of the spots you can interact with, which makes it a breeze to carry on with your journey.

The interface works really well on the Nintendo Switch. While playing in Docked Mode, I found navigating with the controller to be really easy, as I moved around the screen interacting with objects and puzzles. When the Past Was Around is split into multiple chapters, telling the story of Eda and her lover – an anthropomorphic Owl for symbolism – and it presents us with a glimpse at their life together.

As you walk through each section of their life as a couple, you will be learning more about their journey together. It starts off really lovely as you get to see how they meet and spend time together. When the Past Was Around will hit you in the feels once – spoilers – the Owl becomes sick because you know what is going to happen. I’m really trying to be as spoiler-free as possible because with a short 2-3 hour running time, this is one you should experience on your own.

Visually, When the Past was Around is very stunning, with all the elements being hand-drawn in a great art style that makes everything feel so alive. Every element of the world looks great, and each area is packed with tons of details. As you move from setpiece to setpiece, everything looks different yet still has a cohesive world bringing everything together. The music is also excellent, with a light and thoughtful mood that added to the overall experience.

When the Past Was Around is a short, but meaningful narrative-driven experience presented as a point and click adventure game, telling the journey of a person’s grief in losing a loved one at a particularly tragic young age. It looks, plays, and sounds beautiful, creating a living and breathing world worth visiting. Do me a favor, and take the time to go on this journey with Eda and Owl!

This When the Past was Around review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Chorus Worldwide Games.

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