By the time I got to the end of Flashback, all I wanted to do was call my mom. This new narrative adventure from Team Hindsight and Annapurna Interactive takes you through the life of Mary, a woman who returns to her childhood home after the death of her mother. Tasked with cleaning house, you begin packing up belongings that literally become windows into the past using a mechanic known as “opening.” With the objects framing a memory you can physically walk through, each begins to build a complete picture of Mary’s life as she remembers it.
As a reflective experience, Hindsight made me contemplate the perceptions and memories we have about our lives and relationships, and how they might change over time. While she explores many themes, the nature of memory and the relationship between Mary and her mother are at the core of what makes Flashback so moving. Its interesting “opening” mechanic, creative presentation, and beautiful soundtrack bring the experience to life, but the connection I felt to Hindsight’s narrative is what will really stick with me.
The flashback begins on a beach where you first experience the ‘opening’ mechanic, with a sun on the horizon that you interact with. Doing so will take you back to the beginning of the story, when Maria is born; with the sun now serving as a light over the hospital bed. When you enter a memory, you have to try to locate an item that will lead you to another. You don’t get much guidance early on, but anything you can interact with is indicated by some kind of glowing effect.
Another aspect of the puzzle also comes from how you interact with a possession to unlock a memory, which changes throughout. Some require you to line up an object just to complete an image of a memory, while others will ask you to physically move possessions into a particular position. Some belongings are harder to spot than others, but it’s worth exploring to unearth hidden memories that are attached to objects that might be hidden – you’ll be rewarded with the chance to see little moments that were important to Mary for one reason or another. other.
Many of the openings can be interacted with in a creative variety of ways, from painting one wall to opening curtains and lining up books on shelves to align with the reflected memory on the other side of the wall. Sometimes openings can be formed in more abstract ways that reflect how Mary was feeling at the time. In a period of pain and sadness, all the colors of each memory fade and turn cold, while happier times take on a warmer palette. The interactions with the openings effectively transport you to a memory, and the sounds and designs of each moment really bring these memories to life.
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Memories are often shaped by our own perceptions and perspectives. . Two people could go through the same event, for example, and remember it differently. So can you really trust your own memories? And when you look back at something, do you see the whole picture or just what you want to see? When it comes to Mary, these questions often come to mind as I navigate her life.
From the moment she was born to the years leading up to her return home, Retrospective is made up of chapters exploring different highlights. And throughout, Mary speaks as if she is conversing with her late mother, often contemplating her experiences and questioning her perception of them just as I do.
I begin to see how she is trying to better understand who her mother really was rather than the person she perceived her to be. While my own experiences are quite different from Mary’s, I didn’t always understand or appreciate the things my mom or dad did for me when I was younger. It was only when I got older that I came to see my parents as flawed people with problems of their own, who, (quite rightly) in hindsight, were trying to do the best job they knew how to do.
But because you’re looking at the whole of a life, Flashback also explores many important themes that shape Mary as a person. From her cultural heritage to the pressures of academic achievement, the story also looks at family, connections, and the balance of trying to gain a sense of her own identity while seeking praise and acceptance from those who raise her. Each unfolding chapter shows how she deals with the struggles that come with growing up and trying to find her own place in the world. From her introduction to her story, I didn’t expect to get as excited as when I played Hindsight. If you are looking for a creative and thoughtful indie, you can try Hindsight right now.
Flashback is available now for PC, Nintendo Switch, and iOS.