REVIEW | The Past Within

REVIEW | The Past Within

LifeisXbox’s The Past Within review | I was familiar with Rusty Lake‘s previous work, as I’ve played one iteration of Cube Escape before. I don’t remember which one it was, but I didn’t manage to complete it. The Past Within adds a twist to that escape room formula we’ve all seen before in the form of mandatory co-op, and that made a massive difference in my enjoyment of it, as I could help and be helped instead of having to figure out everything by myself. The developers from Rusty Lake are the ones who both created and published The Past Within.

Most Memorable Moment

The Past Within isn’t a horror game because there aren’t any jump scares or graphic violence. However, there were some fairly unpleasant/gross experiences that I have gone through in it, and they undoubtedly had an effect on my friend who I was playing with as well as myself.

ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.

What we Liked!

  • Offline co-op | This may sound weird, but even though co-op is mandatory unless you look up the answers on the internet for the puzzles (which is not how you’re supposed to play), there’s no server you need to get into to play with a friend. All you’ll be doing is giving each other information through voice communication. Simply messaging wouldn’t work as there is a section that requires both of you to be quick about doing that. This info is crucial to help both of you to solve your numerous puzzles. I found that this kind of co-op was just as fun as a server-based co-op, if not more, and it certainly made the escape room concept a lot more enjoyable and less confusing than it would be if you were playing by yourself.
  • Pleasant visuals | Depending on your choices at the beginning of the game, which gives you the option to choose the past or the future, and between a butterfly and a bee, you’ll start in either a 3D or a 2D environment, switching it up when you get to chapter 2. I found that both look pretty good. The 2D visuals being reminiscent of Rusty Lake‘s previous games, as they are hand-drawn environments and characters with a dark tone, while the 3D visuals kept that hand-drawn feeling while also being dark as the 2D ones are.
  • The sound of mystery | The Past Within’s soundtrack did not have much of a presence, but it did have subtle songs that fit the game playing in the background, but they were enjoyable and certainly helped to set the mysterious tone. However, the real stars of the soundtrack were the sound effects, as when you heard them, you instantly understood that progress was being made, and they were pretty good and intense when appropriate, improving on this already great experience.
  • A pretty good story | The story for The Past Within consists of a father leaving a dying message to his daughter where he tells her about a cubic device he was working on that connects the present and the future. It made me feel sad but also pretty hopeful, as that connection between the past and the future did help me believe something could be done about his death. The interesting part of it is that technically, there’s already a connection between them, as you’re getting info from the other one from your friend, but both of you work towards the same goal of establishing that connection.
  • Puzzle variations | As I’ve mentioned before, each player plays in either the past or the future. I’ve completed the game twice with my friend, experiencing both, and even when you switch between the 3D and 2D visuals, they are still different depending on which one you picked. There’s also a choice at the beginning of the game where you’ll choose between a bee and a butterfly, which changes the puzzle solutions, adding to the replay value of The Past Within.

Mixed Feelings

  • Nope | Nothing left me feeling mixed about The Past Within.

What we Disliked

  • Thank God | Thankfully, there’s nothing to see here, as I have nothing bad to say about the game.

How long to beat the story | 1h – 2h
How long to get all achievements | 3h – 5h


The only game I’ve ever reviewed that I can honestly claim couldn’t be bettered is The Past Within, which is a one-of-a-kind experience. This co-op-based escape room game was so much fun to play that I truly hope Rusty Lake themselves or someone else gets to make another one like it.

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