In hindsight, I really should have put forth a larger effort to make Where is 2016? the first game I completed this year instead of Rain. It only makes sense to ring in the new year with a game about…unearthing 2016 by flipping a bunch of hidden red switches to green, time-traveling to other countryside locations to repeat this endeavor, and then pulling a lever to release some jarring, chipper cartoon character from behind a locked door. Yeah, that only makes sense.
From independent game developer Mateusz Skutnik, Where is 2016? is a short point-and-click hidden object adventure set somewhere in France. I make that broad and dangerous assumption from the spatter of French words I saw on signage and rusty pipes. If this is set in, say, Middle-earth, please correct me in the comments below, but I’m more certain that it is not in Middle-earth than I am it is in France. Either way, it’s the countryside and small-town suburbia for your exploring. You do this by clicking areas of a static image, going deeper; in actuality, this is all you do, as well as lose yourself in the minute details of high resolution photographs of foliage and machinery.
There’s no traditional puzzle solving here. Simply find all the switches, turn them to green, return to the main switch hub thing, twist the knob–hey now, this is a family blog, people–and return to the main screen, which features a locked door, a rope to pull, and a clock with hands to manipulate. Do that a total of four times, with each scenario asking you to discover more red lights to switch, and you’ll complete the game. Easy enough. The struggle is discovering what you can click on and what you can’t, though the cursor will change when you are over a hot spot; still, there’s a bit of pixel hunting to do, and here’s a free tip–sometimes you can click in a section you’ve already zoomed in on for an even closer look at things.
I’m more than fine with Where is 2016?‘s length, as it was perfect to get through in ten to fifteen minutes and felt satisfying, in terms of finding all the gadgets to click, when I reached the end. Still don’t understand who that cartoon character was and why he was congratulating me on finding 2016. Perhaps he stars in one of Skutnik’s other games, of which there seem to be many. Sounds like the Submachine series is one worth examining. Also, he’s evidently been at this awhile, creating Where is 2015?, Where is 2014?, and so on for the respective past few years.
Where is 2016? features high resolution photographs for you to click on and dive into. You might think looking at a rusty, old farm plow is beyond tedious, but the closer you get to it, the better you see how it is put together. Then you notice the words etched into the metal, or the small scratches. The flecks of dirty, time. I don’t know if Skutnik took these photos himself for the game or if they come from some stock-based website, but they are crisp and energized, as well as perfunctory and plain. Adding gameplay mechanics on top of them definitely at first feels wrong, but eventually the two elements mesh together without much noise.
If you’d also like to start your year off right by releasing 2016 from its locked, dark chamber, begin click, click, clicking all up on Where is 2016? in your browser over here.