Developer Rusty Lake has shared a first – and, it has to be said, slightly unnerving – look at its brand-new co-operative time-travel puzzler The Past Within, the latest entry in its superb Rusty Lake and Cube Escape series.
If you’ve yet to experience Rusty Lake’s deliciously surreal output – a collection of, so far, 15 games, all serving up a darkly atmospheric slice of casual point-and-click puzzling with a room escape slant – they’re well worth checking out.
Six of its titles are fully fledged premium offerings (Rusty Lake Hotel, Roots, Paradise, Paradox, The White Door, and series precursor Samsara Room), while the remainder are smaller companion pieces, falling under the Cube Escape banner. Perhaps most appealingly, all form one giant interconnected narrative that’s a puzzle in itself to piece together, full of strange beings from other planes, secret pacts, dark family histories, ritualistic murder, and more.
And if your interest is piqued, and you’re looking for a good place to start, I can heartily recommend Rusty Lake: Roots – a gorgeous, surprisingly affecting piece of work, and a wonderful example of developer Rusty Lake’s increasingly ambitious reach.
All of which brings us back to The Past Within, which was originally announced at the start of this year. Previously, we were told it would take the familiar Rusty Lake formula and introduce a co-operative multiplayer element, in which two players work together across different timelines to solve the mysteries surrounding recurring series character Albert Vanderboom. “Communicate what you see around you to help one another solve various puzzles,” explained the developer at the time, “and explore the worlds from different perspectives”.
And now we have a much clearer idea of how all that will play out thanks to The Past Within’s first gameplay trailer (above), which teases a few examples of the game’s co-operative puzzling before things take a slightly sinister turn.
Broadly, each player’s device shows a different environment – drawn in full 3D in another first for Rusty Lake – each full of strange contraptions and devious clues. Through communication and co-operation players must figure how each location is connected, then use knowledge gained from one to progress in the other.
Rusty Lake says The Past Within has now entered its final development stages, giving it “the confidence needed to announce a new realistic timeframe” for release. As such, it’s now expected to launch for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android (and “hopefully console”) in Q2 next year. Cross-platform play will be supported across all versions.