When I reached the end of Hindsight, all I wanted to do was give my mum a call. 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 passing of her mother. With the task of clearing out the house, you start to pack away belongings that become literal windows into the past using a mechanic known as an 'aperture.' With the objects framing a memory that you can physically step through, each starts to build a complete picture of Mary's life as she remembers it.
As a reflective experience, Hindsight had me contemplating the perceptions and memories we hold about our lives and relationships, and how they can change with time. While it explores many themes, the nature of memory and the relationship between Mary and her mother is at the heart of what makes Hindsight so affecting. It's interesting 'aperture' mechanic, creative presentation, and beautiful soundtrack effectively bring the experience to life, but the connection I felt to Hindsight's narrative is what will really stay with me.
Hindsight begins on a beachfront where you first experience the 'aperture' mechanic, with a sun on the horizon that you interact with. Doing so pulls you through to the beginning of the story, when Mary is born; with the sun now serving as the light over the hospital bed. When you enter into a memory, you have to try to locate an item that will take you into another. You don't get much in the way of guidance from the get-go, but anything you can interact with is indicated by a sort of glowing effect.
Another puzzle aspect also comes from the way you interact with a belonging to unlock a memory, which changes throughout. Some require you to align an object just so to complete an image of a memory, while others will have you physically move possessions into a particular position. Some belongings are trickier to spot than others, but it's worth exploring around to unearth hidden memories that are attached to objects that might be tucked away - you'll be rewarded with the chance to see smaller moments that were important to Mary for one reason or another.
So many of the apertures can be interacted with in a creative assortment of ways, from painting a wall, to pulling open curtains, and lining up books on shelves to align with the memory mirrored on the other side of the wall. Sometimes apertures can form in more abstract ways that reflect how Mary was feeling in that moment. In a period of grief and sadness, all of the colors in each memory become muted and cold, while happier times take on a warmer palette. The interactions with the apertures effectively pull you into a memory, and the sounds and designs of each moment really bring these recollections to life.
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 ever really rely on your own recollections? And when you look back on 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 through her life.
Going from the moment she was born through to the years that led up to her return home, Hindsight is made up of chapters that explore different prominent moments. And throughout, Mary speaks as though she's in conversation with her late mother – often contemplating her experiences and questioning her perception of them just as I do.
I start to see how she's 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 to Mary's, I didn't always understand or appreciate the things my mum or dad did for me when I was younger. It's only until I got older that I came to see my parents as flawed people with their own issues, who, (rather aptly) in hindsight, were trying to do the best job they knew how to do.
But as you're seeing the entirety of a life, Hindsight also explores lots of important themes that shape Mary as a person. From her cultural heritage to the pressures of academic achievements, the story also looks at family, connections, and the balance of trying to gain a sense of your own identity while also seeking praise and acceptance from those who raise you. Each chapter that unfolds shows how she grapples with the struggles that come with growing up and trying to find your own place in the world. From its presentation to its story, I didn't expect to be quite as moved as I was playing Hindsight. If you're looking for a creative, reflective indie, you can try out Hindsight for yourself right now.
Hindsight is out now on PC, Nintendo Switch, and iOS.