In His Time review

2023-11-07 by George P

  • Reviewed on

  • Platforms

    Mac, PC, Nintendo Switch

  • Developer
    TearyHand Studio

  • Publisher

Clockwork Dream

In His Time is a story-based puzzle platformer that aims to tell a short yet impactful tale through a variety of innovative techniques. You assume the role of Olly. A young troubled boy whose life has been confronted with various tragedies and difficulties. His father passed away and his mother fell seriously ill. Olly not only is obliged to help with various house-related duties that his mother is unable to do herself but he also has to perform well in school where he struggles with his peers. This forlorn routine will change once Olly meets a cryptic inventor related to his past. It will be your job to find hope in this desperate situation and untangle a web of secluded secrets and disorienting lies. In His Time alternates between the real world and hauntingly enigmatic dreamscapes where past and present surreally coalesce.

The game’s cartoony minimalist art direction perfectly fits both settings. In the “real world”, the game’s visuals produce a bright, welcoming and pleasing sensation. They invite you to explore the island and discover its inhabitants in a refreshingly serene manner. When it comes to dreamscapes, we can separate them into two categories: placid mysteries and revealing nightmares. The former evokes a sense of eager curiosity as they challenge you to solve their metaphorical conundrums. Nightmares on the other hand are much more forthright and unambiguous. They directly reveal the truth about key elements of the story ominously and chillingly. In His Time manages to successfully execute all these different settings and emotionally absorb the player within them. This is achieved through the game’s well-thought-out art style, its minimal yet engaging environmental design, the incredibly fluid animations and the harmonious selection of colours. Beyond the brilliant visual presentation, I would also like to highlight the game’s excellent sound design which also plays an important role in bringing both the world and Olly’s dreamscapes to life.

The Tale and the Storyteller

I think it is relatively easy to tell a happy story. While, even in a happy story there is struggle, conflict and a dramatic climax. Everything is eventually resolved and everyone lives happily ever after. I believe it is much more difficult to tell a sad story. The tale that In His Time depicts begins and ends with tragedy. In between, it deals with many complex and highly sensitive topics. From death to bullying, to alcoholism, to gambling, and more. It is easy for a game that deals with such difficult subjects to feel preachy, contrived, or even dogmatic. That is thankfully not the case with In His Time. The game gracefully manages to share an opinion without it ever feeling shoehorned or out of place. We can probably attribute that successful approach to the fact that the game focuses less on sending a direct message and more on providing an indirect perspective. There is another accomplishment that should be highlighted here. Something even harder than telling a sad story is telling a sad story that does not actually feel sad. The game begins by depicting a situation that could make even the most resilient player feel hopeless. While the game’s ending is as gut-wrenching as its beginning, it does not feel that way. After experiencing an emotional and intimate journey, you are left with a perspective of hope that can be interpreted as desired. Beyond its writing and personal character, the storytelling of In His Time is able to be impactful through the ingenious link between story and gameplay. Before conducting a more in-depth analysis of that link, it is important to highlight a few fundamental aspects of the gameplay loop. While In His Time states that it is a puzzle platformer, the gameplay itself is more reminiscent of that of a point-and-click adventure (there is even an option to play with nothing more than your mouse). You talk to characters, solve puzzles, collect items and use them at the right spot. Simple. And while this structure may appear highly familiar, In His Time does not actually use a pre-defined formula. One could say that it does not use a formula at all. In fact, the gameplay loop feels less like a loop and more like a collage of ideas. This is a game where you never truly “replay” something.

There are dozens of systems, interfaces, perspectives, mechanics, etc. that In His Time uses only once to craft a certain idea and then moves to the next one. Through this “collage of ideas” concept, the game manages to maintain a sense of freshness and inventiveness throughout the entire experience. While there are certainly benefits to this interesting approach. There is also an inherent and vital risk. An adventure of this kind should resemble a singular coherent experience rather than a series of disjointed mini-games. This is a common issue that I myself have encountered many times in the past with titles of this kind. Thankfully, this is a problem that In His Time manages to surpass quite elegantly. The story and the gameplay are intrinsically connected. Every seemingly isolated idea or puzzle system also acts as a storyteller. Sometimes in a highly direct manner, while in other cases in a much more subtle way. Nonetheless, the gameplay elements, direct or subtle are always essential and well-thought-out pieces of the story. By being able to cleverly craft that link between narrative and moment-to-moment gameplay, In His Time forges an experience that feels smooth and well-paced from start to finish.

Simple Yet Great

There are dozens of elements that one can praise in both the story and the gameplay loop that In His Time offers. However, there is also a basic negative issue that unfortunately offsets a large segment of that praise. This is for the most part a very easy game. At moments in my playthrough, I just thought that I was going through the motions rather than actually thinking or solving anything. There are definitely a few puzzles that I thought were both imaginative and challenging.

In fact, some of these highlight puzzles managed to be highly memorable and will certainly stick with me for a while. But those were sadly the exception rather than the rule. The issue with a game being overly easy is that it can, in turn, feel boring or lacking in excitement. And while In His Time has that issue, I still very much enjoyed and appreciated the experience that it offers. In His Time does not feature wonderous landscapes, mind-blowing puzzles, outlandish characters, or a journey of epic proportions. It instead offers a simple, cosy, sincere, and intimate adventure. And maybe sometimes, that is the best kind of adventure to have.


In His Time is a point-and-click adventure with platformer controls featuring a lovely art style and a masterfully crafted visual presentation. By linking narrative and gameplay in clever ways, In His Time manages to create an engaging, distinct, and impactful experience. However, some players may find the game dull at times due to its relatively low level of difficulty.