The sequel to a sleeper hit among the PN crew, Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic, takes one step forward and two steps back. While still a fun hidden object game, it likely needed more time for optimization.

As the moniker indicates, the developers decided to add a fantasy angle alongside the time period approach. But all this does is make the game feel somewhat messy thematically. I can appreciate the struggle when multiple ideas are on the table, but it would’ve been better to stick with (and aim to perfect ) the original rather than trying to shoehorn something that doesn’t fit.

To illustrate, I’ll pick just one era, The “Magical” ’80s. My wife and I got a real kick from seeing all the pop culture nods in this era. Atari 2600s hooked up to box TVs, filming of a music video clearly meant to be “Thriller”, and a Marty McFly look-alike, complete with his red “life preserver,” to name just a few. All these fit. Why hunt through witches, ghosts, and all these other random elements that seem to have little, if anything, to do with the ’80s? Sometimes, less is more.

It’s a credit to the core gameplay that we still spent several hours trying to beat the game. And ultimately, story concerns are highly subjective. But when it comes to lack of polish, that’s the sort of thing that’s hard to overlook. Hidden Through Time 2 has multiple bugs, at least on Switch.

I’ll list a handful we found in no particular order. Story text vanishing (though narration remaining), unfound items in the search bar changing to blank empty spaces, and showing a clear message claiming we found every objective when we hadn’t. These demonstrate the aforementioned lack of polish, though I want to stress the game remains fun despite these.

But worse are the bugs that impact the gameplay. The hitbox detection is so finicky that we couldn’t finish at least one level because the item we needed didn’t register. Clicks merely affected a character that evidently was standing too close. We even tried playing undocked, but the touchscreen worked sporadically here. Our advice, especially when manipulating buildings to check each floor, is to be persistent. Find that sweet spot, and pull a Goldilocks on the button (don’t tap too short or too long).

Graphically, this sequel stays true to the winning looks of its predecessor. In fact, allow me to quote from my prior review, as it still applies. “It’s a bright and colorful kid’s book brought to life on-screen. Seeing all the animals and people milling about is a real asset. You can click almost anything and get an animation, a sound effect, or both.”

A fresh visual touch involves altering the levels. Each can change with a button tap to a different time of day or new weather condition. Beyond graphical variety, this also positively impacts gameplay, as certain items are found only under specific conditions. The lone drawback here is that I thought my Switch would melt most times I changed things. The load times and stutter really stood out. Speaking of which…

It took us 40 seconds just to load up the game to its main menu—and frequent lengthy load times were consistent throughout our play. I get there is a ton of stuff on screen (this is a busy-looking game, in a good way), but if you’re impatient, it’ll bug you. Also, don’t expect smoothness when panning around the most sizable maps.

For all these observations and gripes, the alteration you can make to each level—referred to as ‘Reality-Shift’—is a key addition that adds a significant amount while making this game feel like a proper sequel. It makes for a follow-up with more challenging content, leading to a lengthier experience. While I can’t recommend it over its predecessor, if you enjoyed the first, you’ll enjoy this sequel.

Another improvement is for the creative types—namely, a tutorial’s inclusion. Once you’ve finished the main game, you can try your hand at creating levels, now with more ease. I lamented the lack of a tutorial in the first game, so to see it here is appreciated. It gives the game legs. If DLC arrives similar to the first, this will further extend playtimes.

Hidden Through Time 2: Myths & Magic is fun, but some significant issues (at least on Switch) make it fall slightly short of its predecessor. It might be better to grab this one on sale or when DLC arrives (hopefully with a performance patch). Creative types might not want to wait that long.