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Hidden Through Time

Hidden Through Time from Publisher and Developer Crazy Monkey Studios

A modern animated Where’s Waldo enjoyable for all ages. Wonderful relaxing music and animations that are both cute and entertaining. 

A point and click where’s Waldo-esk animated hidden items game.

The game presents you with maps full of interactive objects and a list of items to find that are hidden on the screen. Each item on the list has a hint to help you locate it. Once you click the item it will put a temporary circle around it marking it as found and check it off of your list by changing the background color of the item from white to a nice bright green.

While playing the story mode you will travel through time from the Stone Age, to Ancient Egypt, through the Middle ages, and onto the American Old West. Each of the maps has its own look and feel and pretty much everything on the map interacts when you click on it. You’ll start out looking for just a few items on a smallish map. As you progress from stage to stage it starts to get a little more challenging as they add more items, hide them a little better, and make the maps larger. Depending on how you handle the challenge or frustration of searching for small well hidden items on a large map, this will either be tons of fun or irritating.

The graphics are delightfully stick figure cartoonish. It fits the game nicely and really nails the nostalgic feel of the Where’s Waldo books. They also have really gentle, relaxing, and peaceful music. We felt like we could happily spend hours exploring the maps and interacting with the different pieces presented while listening to the sound track and hunting down every last elusive little item.

There are a total of 26 maps in the story mode. They’ve also added a Map Editor mode where users can make their own maps and share them with everyone else. In this mode you have tons of options and can choose from everything in the game to populate your maps; structures, props, characters, animals, and the environmental elements (plants, trees, and rocks). Once you’re happy with your map you can play it locally or upload it for others to play online.

That leads right to the Online mode which lets you play maps created by other users and give them feedback in the form of Thumbs Up or Down. Some of the user made maps are very easy with only a few items placed and others are more elaborate where you can tell the creator spent some time to make a really enjoyable map or tell a little story.

We was surprised by the amount of options you have for searching the online maps. You can search based on like percentage, most played, most cleared, clear percentage, most recent and oldest. You can also favorite maps to find them again quickly if you want to come back to them. 

The thing we loved the most about Where’s Waldo wasn’t finding Waldo. It was discovering all of the other little stories and activities that were happening on the page. This game captures that spirit perfectly. Every map had such interesting things happening and captured a little slice of the world with so many things to discover. 

Hidden Through Time is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS and Android. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Bunny Parking

Bunny Parking from Publisher and Developer DillyFrame

Harder than you’d think for a cartoony “kids” puzzle game.

A Slide Puzzle Game 

You play as a bunny who is a valet and needs to move a Red car from one end of a parking lot to the other. The lot is full of vehicles that are blocking the way. You need to kick the cars to move them and clear the path.

The game has 3 difficulty levels; Easy, Normal and Hard. You can start at any difficulty level you want to but you always have to complete the puzzles in order for each difficulty. As you progress through Easy they begin to introduce new obstacles and increase the difficulty of the puzzles. This prepares you for the increased challenge of Normal. Normal will likewise become increasingly difficult with more obstacles limiting your available moves. Before you even get to Hard you’ll find that you can no longer clear the whole pate. Instead you’ll sometimes need to move the vehicles blocking your path back and forth multiple times as you clear part of the path, move forward, and then move the vehicles around you to clear the next part of the path and exit. Jumping straight from Day 1 Easy, to Day 1 Normal, or Hard is a very steep difficulty ramp. Playing through all 100 levels of Easy first, makes for a smoother increase before starting Normal.  

The graphics are pretty basic and simple, almost cartoony and very colorful. 

The audio is simple and peppy there appears to be 3-4 different songs that will play while working on the puzzles.The songs are kind of an electronic polka and pretty repetitive. Fortunately, you can turn off the music in the menu if it starts to drive you as crazy as the little bunny valet. The vehicles will also honk when you kick them if they can not be moved in that direction. You will hear the car horn a lot. This is partly due to poor hit detection and vehicles not being able to detect which one you’re trying to kick and in which direction.

If you get bored of kicking cars you could play some soccer, jump on a trampoline, wreak havoc on some carrots from the patch, or go for a boat ride. There are a few other hidden things on the map for you to do if you decide you want to explore for a bit. We liked that there was more to do than just kick a bunch of cars and trucks around the parking lot.

The game does have a multiplayer/co-op option. We had a very hard time finding anyone to play with so we could test this out. When did finally find one person online to play with. The multi-player is indeed just co-op. One joins the other’s game. You can play soccer against each other or work on the puzzle together.

The controls are very simplistic but work fairly well. 

The game is enjoyable and could be especially fun to play with younger gamers. We did run into a few issues with cars not responding to being kicked and a lot of unpredictability with kicking the soccer ball.

Bunny Parking is available on Xbox One and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Vasilis

Vasilis from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Marginal Act

Kind of a weird story. If you’re looking for a slow paced game this is probably right up your alley. If you’re not a fan of walking simulators it may not be a good fit.

Hand drawn in black and white side scrolling adventure.

The story is based on political events in Ukraine during 2014. You play an elderly lady named Vasilis who is trying to locate her husband. While searching for him you’ll have to make your way through the troubled city. There are riots happening throughout the city as it starts to burn.    

You have several locations to visit while exploring the town. The locations start to become weirder the further into the story you progress. 

You’ll pick up items around the town to trade with the townspeople for other items necessary to continue the story and access new areas. There were a few times during the earlier “days”  where we were unsure what to trade to whom in order to progress. We traded every item we had until finally finding the right thing. This was only confusing during the earlier parts of the game as it became clearer what you needed to trade with whom during the later days. 

Most of the actual game play is walking back and forth around the town locating items to trade and going from location to location. It starts to feel like a walking simulator.

The controls are pretty simple but a little loose. We found the in game map to be pretty useless since you will be going to the same locations over and over again. You will also pick up a to-do list which will help you figure out what to do and where to go.

There were a few times we got stuck on invisible walls which became a little frustrating. Moving Vasilis around with the thumbstick seemed loose and it was very easy to drift up or down while trying to walk a straight line. We had better results using the D-pad to ensure there was no vertical drift when trying to walk horizontally across the screen.

The artstyle is hand drawn in black and white. Most of the animations are very simple with only a few frames that repeat over and over again. 

The audio is very minimalistic. There’s not so much a “soundtrack” as there is different background or ambient noises for different locations. There’s no voice acting either. Just a “scratching” sound to represent speech while dialog boxes are on the screen.  

The game is a little short and can be completed in just a few hours depending on how familiar you become with the best paths to traverse the town. After about an hour of walking back and forth you’ll wish there was the option to allow Vasilis to run.  

Vasilis is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSP and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

OVIVO

OVIVO From IzHard

A simple momentum and gravity based platformer that mixes art and gameplay. 

You play as OVO, a color changing ball with an antenna. Your objective is to reach a spot in the middle of the map. To do this you make your way around the level by moving between colors, using momentum, sliding down slopes, altering gravity, avoiding spikes, or falling off a cliff. After reaching the objective the screen zooms out to display the full map revealing the piece of art that it is.
The gameplay and controls are very simple as the game only has 2 colors in it (Black and White) and uses 1 thumb stick and a single button to switch colors and move between the Black and White areas.
The music is simple, clean, and relaxing which keeps you calm during the later more challenging stages. 
Most of the levels are pretty simple and have more than one route to get to the end. It makes traveling around the levels easy and fun during the earlier levels. The levels start becoming more complicated and challenging when new mechanics and obstacles are introduced. Some of the new additions are moving platforms, floating flowers, and color changing spheres. There’s a small learning curve at the start and it returns with a significant difficulty spike on the later stages. It is not always clear what to do or where you need to go and there are many chances to die by falling off objects into spikes or sharp edges. The check point system is pretty good which only has you backtracking for a few seconds which helps to offset the difficulty spike by minimizing the penalty for sudden deaths.
Sadly the game has no story; no spoken or written words at all. It is more of a short experience as it can be completed in about 3 hours.  

A simple black and white momentum and gravity based platformer that mixes art and gameplay with a relaxing soundtrack.

OVIVO is available on Xbox, PlayStation 4, Steam and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Ascendance

Ascendance from ONEVISION GAMES

A colorful First Person 3D Platformer. 
The art style is a minimalistic, low poly with very colorful platforms and backgrounds. The audio is calming, relaxing, and adds to the atmosphere.
The gameplay is simple. You traverse the three levels by running and jumping from a stationary platform to collect orbs around the level. Once an orb is collected it reveals more of the level. While moving around the levels you will be using jump pads to access higher areas or platforms. Some will drop when you touch them which keeps you on your toes. Once you collect all of the orbs you are granted access to the next level. All three of the levels have collectible presents that can be found in hidden places around the maps (around corners or behind objects).
Each of the three levels is unique; not only visually but with new mechanics added to the mix which add a nice bit of variety.
The controls are simple as you use the thumbsticks to move and look around, and just two buttons are used for the rest; one for running and one for jumping.
What little bit of story the game has is told by finding Crystals around the levels. When you approach them, text will appear on the screen with the next installment of the narrative.
I encountered an issue with parts of the map not loading/rendering after hitting an orb/checkpoint and exiting the game then reloading the level at a later time. This was game breaking as it was not possible to complete the level and progress further in the game without the map rendered correctly and it was ultimately necessary to delete all saves both local and in the cloud and start the game over from the beginning.
I reached out to the developers to let them know about the issue. They responded that a patch is in development to address it but is not ready for release at the time of this writing.
Overall the game is fun, simple, relaxing and enjoyable but just a little short. More levels, mechanics, and a timed mode is planned with future updates.
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