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Puzzle through a beautiful home with an owl friend in the demo for When The Past Was Around

A hoot

There’s something not quite right with your companion in When The Past Was Around. But it would be terribly rude to point out that your companion is made of shadows, so I suppose you’d better figure your way through the point and click puzzles in order to add back some colour and detail to them. Even if that does mean having to contend with the fact that they have an owl head.

The game’s feature list claims it contains, in totality: “a curious girl, owl, hand-drawn art, a sweet and peaceful home.” All of these are excellent features, and all of them are present in the 10-minute demo that’s already available. In particular, the home is especially beautiful, mostly because it’s full of a wonderful variety of pot plants. Unfortunately, you can (and sort of have to) knock them down and cause a mess.

The demo mostly centres around helping your owl buddy find their form, though by the end it’s somewhat questionable about how good an idea that was. It has a sort of Florence-y feel, if you remember the sweet, short mobile game from last year. Like Florence, the story isn’t told through words but through this sketchbook-like art style. It’s a little more whimsical than Florence, though, and more open to interpretation. What exactly this beast is up to isn’t clear, though it might become so through the full game.

“With each clues gathered, puzzles solved, and doors unlocked, the girl will find her way, unravelling the secrets between her and the beast, the secrets which she used to know,” says the game’s itch page.

Developers Mojiken Studios have previously made many wonderful-looking things like She And The Lightbearer, and 7 Days In The Fire Mountain, which Kat Brewster said they "don’t quite know what to make of it," but figured "that if the game has stuck with me for this long it’s definitely got something going for it." I'm also a fan of A Raven Monologue, which it doesn't look like we've ever touched on here but is a free and lovely thing available on itch and Steam.

No word on when When The Past Was Around will be expanded, but the demo is full of lovely things to poke at and good music to listen to anyway, and you can download it for pay what you want with no minimum on itch.io.

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Jay Castello avatar

Jay Castello


Jay writes about video games, falls down endless internet rabbit holes, and takes a lot of pictures of flowers.