When the Past was Around, Image Chorus Worldwide

‘When the Past Was Around’: A Point-&-Click Puzzle Game Exploring Loss

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What Is When the Past Was Around?

When the Past Was Around is a short, sweet, and surreal narrative point-and-click puzzle game. You play by looking around a series of rooms to find various objects and clues which you will use to solve puzzles such as making correct drinks for the main characters, unlocking doors, and even using a washing machine.

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An Early Room in When the Past was Around, Image Sophie Brown
An Early Room in the Game, Image Sophie Brown

Age Rating

When the Past Was Around is rated PEGI 3 and ESRB E for everyone, however, the storyline may be upsetting for some.

Available Formats

When the Past Was Around is available on:

If you’re interested in playing, a free demo game is available.

Even the Menu Screens are Beautifully Illustrated, Image Sophie Brown
Even the Menu Screens are Beautifully Illustrated, Image Sophie Brown

System Specifications

The minimum system specification to play on PC are:

  • OS: Windows 7 Service Pack 1
  • Processor: 1.8 GHz or faster processor
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Direct X 9.0c compatible video card
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 2 GB available space

And for Mac they are:

  • OS: Mac OS X 10.9+
  • Processor: Dual Core 1.6 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Storage: 2 GB available space


When the Past Was Around Gameplay

When the Past Was Around is a traditional point-and-click puzzle game, so the gameplay itself is simple and will be instantly familiar to most players. Each “level” takes place in a room or collection of rooms which you can move around by side-scrolling.

Clicking on certain objects will take you in for a closer look, while others are interactive such as opening a cupboard door to see inside, and other items you can pick up to use later on. For example, in one room you will be able to click on a square of blue paper. Later on, by clicking to look more closely at a table, you will discover instructions to turn that paper into a pinwheel. However, you will first need to solve two additional puzzles in order to locate a pair of scissors, and a pin, before you can make your pinwheel and solve a third puzzle that requires one.

The gameplay becomes slightly more complex as the game progresses. In the earliest stages of the game, puzzles can be solved in a single room with few stages. By the end, you are working with two or three rooms at a time that you will need to move between, plus puzzles with multiple layers. Even so, everything remains relaxed and you will still be able to complete the whole story in just a few hours—perfect for a date night at home or an afternoon of family time.

Expansions and In-Game Purchases

There are no expansions or in-game purchases.

These White Marks Appear to Signify when Objects can Interract, Image Sophie Brown
These White Marks Appear to Signify when Objects can Interact, Image Sophie Brown

When the Past Was Around Verdict

When The Past Was Around is a bittersweet story of a girl named Eda, a girl in her twenties who has, in the words of the developers, “lost her way in the journey to achieve her dreams” and “lost her way in the journey to find love.” The changes when she meets the Owl, a man who helps her to “burn her passion,” “find the spark in a relationship,” but also teaches her about heartbreak.

As might be expected from a synopsis like this, this is a somewhat surreal game—the Owl is a human man with an owl head, although it’s strongly implied that this element is more metaphorical than literal—it’s also profoundly tragic. The story explores grief in its many forms, from anger to depression and, finally, a form of acceptance and the ability to “move on,” so this is possibly not something you’ll want to play if you are going through a personal loss of your own unless you’re specifically looking for some significant catharsis. It’s never made explicitly clear what happens to Eda and Owl’s relationship, but there are enough clues throughout for you to draw your own painfully obvious conclusions.

When the Past was Around isn't Always a Happy Game, Image Sophie Brown
When the Past Was Around isn’t Always a Happy Game, Image Sophie Brown

This is a particularly short game that can easily be completed in a single session of under two hours. Most of the puzzles are fairly easy to solve provided you pay close attention to patterns and any scribbled notes you come across, although I did have to resort to a walkthrough once or twice and one of those solutions still didn’t make sense even once I knew what the answer was! There is no violence here unless you count wanton destruction of potted plants, but you will almost certainly find that the violin tune played throughout will be stuck in your head for days afterward. If you enjoy the music, you can also pick up the soundtrack album.

When the Past Was Around is a truly beautiful game that explores heartbreak, grief, and moving on with our lives after the unimaginable. It’s one I can imagine playing again in the future at a time when I feel like I could benefit more from those messages, but playing this is a wonderful experience at any time and one I thoroughly recommend.

GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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