Hindsight on PC
When Hindsight was revealed during the Annapurna Interactive Showcase last week, the first game that came to mind was Before Your Eyes. Both tell the stories through distinctive viewpoints while also boasting unique gameplay elements. In the end, though, it seems I set expectations for this new puzzle game a little too high.
Hindsight is a narrative adventure game that looks back on the entirety of a woman’s life, spanning from her birth all the way up until the present day. While short, it features a really poignant story about culture, parental influences, and how a slight change in perspective can alter everything you know about all of it.
Despite having a good relationship with my mother myself, I really empathized with the main character’s want and need to be themselves while also trying to make them feel proud. Hearing the Narrator’s regret about realizing all of this only after her mother passes and while cleaning out the old house really makes for an emotional narrative as well.
To experience this gripping story, you maneuver through scenes and simulate the passage of time in a few different ways. The first and most common way to move the forward narrative is accomplished by either clicking on a silhouette of the main character or finding whatever object is glowing. Once you do, the Narrator, aka the little girl, will continue with her story.
As the game progresses, other gameplay elements to move forward are also unlocked. For example, a lot of the time, you’ll need to spin whatever object you’re focused on to just the right point until it shows the next scene, somewhat mimicking an “art within art” Droste effect.
In other scenarios, moving the camera around in a circle so that an object or person is out of view will simulate the passage of time. Lastly, you can also move some objects up and down or left and right to unveil the next scene.
This interesting style of gameplay combined with the beautiful imagery, colors, and scene transitions really does make for some pretty breathtaking moments. There’s one scene where you watch the protagonist grow up to the beat of clicking on the metronome that sits on her piano, making for a really cool, Inception-like sequence.
Yet, while there are plenty of scenes like these in Hindsight that are great, it also feels a bit lacking when it comes to its gameplay, framing, and story. More than anything, the game’s reliance on mostly still frame imagery is its biggest flaw.
Since there is very little to move around or experience gameplay-wise, a lot of the time that is being spent in Hindsight is just looking for the right angle or the item you’re supposed to click on. Alongside getting a bit tedious after a while, some of the items you’re supposed to find feel like needles in a haystack.
I must have spent 20 minutes at one point looking around for what my next scene transition was supposed to be in one sequence, only to find out that it was a small mirror in the car. This wouldn’t necessarily have been too big of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that the glow of the mirror is set to an already light backdrop, making the usual blinking that helps you notice it non-existent.
And while I appreciate the fact that Hindsight is a story about the Narrator’s journey, only getting to hear her throughout the entire thing is a bit disappointing as well. One of my favorite things about Before Your Eyes was that the world felt alive, and a lot of that is thanks to the other characters.
Sure, it’s really touching to see her relationship with her dad, but getting to hear a conversation between the two or even maybe how her mom treats her tone-wise would have made things even more relatable. Instead, we just hear the Narrator’s voice and perspective, making the story and its world feel a little bit more lacking as a result.
That isn’t to say that Hindsight is by any means a bad game. The story is excellent, the art is fantastic, and a lot of people are going to relate to its message. However, if you’re going into the game thinking that it is going to be the next big breakout indie of the year, then you might come away a little disappointed.
Single frame imagry gets tedious after a bit.
Story feels limited by just having the narrator’s voice.