Game Review: The Past Within

Release date: 2022
Version played: PC (via Steam) in 2022

An asymmetrical, co-operative only multiplayer point-and-click puzzle game, A Past Within was developed and published by Rusty Lake, and is part of the Rusty Lake universe of video games. Two players, one in the past and one in the future, must work together to solve puzzles by communicating what they can each see in their surroundings, and by doing so, use dark sciences to create or restore life in line with the mysterious plans of Albert Vanderboom.

+ the escape room style gameplay is absolutely perfectly suited for multiple devices, as each player can view or interact with things at their own pace. There was no internet connection required to play this, and that ‘offline connectivity’ is just so well designed, Rusty Lake deserve some huge props. I really did feel like I was working out a puzzle in a real life escape room in real time with my partner, who was literally two metres away from me, despite them having no control over my game
+ my co-op partner and I played through this twice (once each in the Past and the Future) and each session, from start to finish, was approximately 90 minutes. Of course we had a lot more knowledge going in the second time, but there are two variations, dubbed ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Bee’, which change up the answers allowing for each player to partake in both scenarios
+ the story was relatively simple, horror sci-fi stuff, but there was more than enough to call it a positive here. You won’t be directly spoon-fed who everyone is or their goals, but you can make it out easily enough. There are also some genuinely spooky moments, owing to the sci-fi nature of the plot to begin with
+ as long as you can communicate with your partner, you don’t need to be playing on the same system. This game is available on mobile (iOS and Android) and PC, and is coming soon to Switch. It really is a mind-blowing achievement to how the co-op system works

– in a big way, this is more an ‘experience’ than a video game — not in the sense that you don’t have to play the game, because you do, but more so just that there is no real replay value, and the idea of playing with someone who has played it before sound very unappealing. This is something both players need to go into blind to get the most out of

> I have one lingering question which is not even about the game itself, but a question you are asked before beginning. I don’t recall it having any bearing on the outcome, but I might be overthinking it

Should you play this game: I really, really enjoyed this. I saw this trailer first several years ago, and have been eagerly awaiting for it to come out since. For five bucks, it took the place of a night time movie, and I was left incredibly impressed. My co op partner and I spent all night talking about it, and both recommend it to anyone who likes a good puzzle games.

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