The Labyrinth of Time

2151
Guest Reviewer: Cynthia Gary
Original Publication: Mr. Bill's Adventureland
Genre: Adventure/Puzzle
Format: CD
Developer: Terra Nova Development
Mac OS X Port: The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Company
Minimum Requirements: Mac OS X v10.1.2, 490MB hard disk space
Review Computer: 800MHz G4 iMac, Mac OS X v10.3.8, 768MB RAM, 32MB Nvidia GeForce 2MX video card
Network Feature: No
Retail Price: $19.99
ESRB Rating: N/A
Availability: Out now

People have been getting lost in mazes since ancient times. Pliny the Elder wrote about several famous ancient labyrinths, including one in Egypt consisting of some 3,000 chambers above and below ground. In more recent times, gardeners, amusement park owners, puzzle makers and, of course, adventure game designers have enjoyed testing our sense of direction with various types of mazes.

Adventure gamers seem firmly planted on one side or the other of the hedge...er...fence when it comes to liking mazes or not. I admit that I enjoy them, especially when they have either a map or distinctive features to use as landmarks. I am happy to report that The Labyrinth of Time suits my preferences nicely by having both. Not only that, but it also has a neat story, many interesting places to explore and some good puzzles to solve, which makes it a fine game for anyone who likes classic-style adventures. Even players who don't care for mazes should find some fun in this one.

This first-person game begins at the end of a gray and depressing day in an anonymous city. Feeling as gloomy as the day, you are headed home from another boring day at work and not looking forward to your equally boring weekend.

As you enter a subway car, you are confronted suddenly with a strangely dressed character named Daedalus, who claims he needs your help. He has been forced by King Minos to construct a special labyrinth that will allow the evil king to rule all space and time. Being the intrepid gamer you are, you decide you're up to the challenge of saving the universe yet again. Besides, it's much more exciting than the dull weekend you were expecting to have.

As your summoner departs, your life is suddenly filled with lovely color, and your mission begins. You exit the subway car through one of the doors and, in two steps, immediately find yourself in the hallway of a hotel. Oh dear. Daedalus did mention that Minos was playing around with time and space. This may be more of a challenge than you first thought. Fortunately, you discover you have a map.

As you explore, your magical map builds, and there's a very handy red "You Are Here" arrow that not only shows you where you are but also what direction you are facing. You can also tell whether you can go further in any room or section you are in because the map shows you all the openings, even if you can't gain entrance to them the first time you encounter them.

Now, I'm not going to say you can't get lost in this game, but you will soon learn to check your map when in doubt, especially when exploring the more traditional mazes. Since you don't know where you're supposed to go at first, and since the environment can change radically when you step through a door, I found it was best to go with the flow and explore the entire area. There are some lovely items to see and some that you must collect, so take your time to check out everything. Just make sure to note on your map where you entered a particular section, as you will most likely have to backtrack to leave the area.

The game has a built-in function that allows you to leave a virtual bread crumb trail to follow back to the start automatically. However, it doesn't seem to work all the time, so after a few tries, I chose to ignore it. To be honest, I didn't miss it.

The graphics in the game are dated because this is a port of the 1993 original, but they are interesting all the same. The colors are bright, and the changes in time and place keep you wondering what new world you'll step into next. There's one labyrinth near the end of the game that looks like Escher was let loose with a box of 96 Crayolas! (I'll say no more about it except that it was great fun to navigate, despite the fact that it was the only maze in the game that couldn't be mapped.) The game's viewing mode can be set to either full screen or window. In the smaller window view, the images are sharper, but the full screen mode is more immersive. If you change your mind, there is a keystroke that allows you to toggle between both views.

The navigation in the game is also old style. Everything is done from the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. You click arrow icons to move left, right, and forward, and there are icons you must click first before you can complete an action. If you want to pick up or manipulate an object, you must click on the appropriate 'hand' icon, then click on the object on the screen. At first I had trouble going through doors, but I soon learned to click on the "open door" icon first and then on the door itself. I found that the system became intuitive in a very short time. There are also key commands for all the functions, but I didn't bother to use them.

There is an inventory bag on your main navigation bar, and clicking it takes you to a secondary bar where you can view pictures of all the items you have picked up, or simply scroll through the names with right and left arrow keys. To use an item, you click the "use" icon and then click where you want to use it. Also on this secondary bar are the icons used for dropping and following the bread crumbs, which I mentioned above.

The game has appropriate sound effects and some very nice and varied music. However there is no spoken dialogue. Everything appears as text at the bottom of the viewing screen just above the icons. I soon got in the habit of watching that space when clicking on something, and often had a good laugh at the responses.

You can't die in the game, but it pays to save often, as there are a couple of dead ends you could encounter. There are 15 save slots, and your saves will have a picture, a description, and the date and time. If you need more slots, you can put a new save over an existing one. I do have one word of warning: Don't try to save a frame with animation in it. It could cause your game to quit to the desktop, which may mean a long trip back through one of the mazes. Other than that one glitch, the game ran like a dream on my G4 iMac in OS 10.3. I used a full install, but the game can easily be played from the single CD.

On the whole, the puzzles in the game are not difficult, and most of them are inventory based. Your text line will tell you whether using an item in a certain place is appropriate, and some combinations of items are very funny, as are some of the items themselves (I loved the snazzy alien belt). Not all items will prove useful, but try using everything. You'll get used to the game making fun of you when you do something silly.

You'll encounter a few mechanical puzzles, including a fairly easy slider, and you'll find quite a bit to read that will give you important clues about the story. A few times you will find yourself using something and not seeing the results until you revisit an area. You may also get some cryptic clues from an unusual source. Just make sure you save before asking any questions.

All in all, I liked finding my way through this wacky and wonderful adventure. Surprises and good humor were everywhere. In fact, getting turned around and somewhat disoriented has never been so colorful, nor so entertaining. My advice to you is to get lost...in The Labyrinth of Time.

 

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