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

(Image credit: Tom Sykes)

There's a touch of the Rusty Lake series to handsome, hand-drawn puzzle game When The Past Was Around, 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 Sykes

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.