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Seek your memories in gorgeous free puzzler When The Past Was Around

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(Image credit: Tom Sykes)

There's a touch of the Rusty Lake series to handsome, hand-drawn puzzle game When The Past Was Around (opens in new tab), which similarly deposits you in a series of rooms that must be investigated, probed, basically clicked to high heaven until you've discovered their myriad secrets.

While it's only a demo, there are still a few rooms' worth of puzzles on offer, which should keep you busy for some time (say, the better part of a lunch hour). You play as a girl trying to recover her past, although as the game's wordless, and more than a bit vague, I only really know that from the description. It's a slightly fantastical, sweet and whimsical adventure set in a series of down-to-earth domestic locations, each full of fixtures or curios to open, and perhaps drums to bang to make a satisfying noise.

It really does remind me of Rusty Lake, in a very good way. Gone is the macabre atmosphere, but there's the same emphasis on tactile puzzle-solving, as you tear open boxes and disturb furniture to find puzzle pieces. You're accompanied on your quest by a big shadowy bloke who I guess is an owl-man? Solve the puzzles in each room and he'll transport you to the next, in this lovely, beautifully hand-drawn game.

For more great free experiences, check out our roundup of the best free PC games.

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.