Time Machine, The New Adventures of the Download (2000 Adventure Game)

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DreamCatcher is well known for fantasy games that, essentially, create entirely new worlds. Beyond Atlantis takes you through the mysteries of ancient civilizations (though entirely fictional) and The Sacred Amulet brings the legend of the Aztecs to a whole new level.

The New Adventures of the Time Machine follows the same idea of originality but gameplay is totally different. The main character's perspective is reminiscent of Martian Gothic in that he's moved with arrow keys and the camera angles change automatically.

The game fiddles with the past as well as the incredibly distant future and begins with your character, Brendan Wales, in London during the year 1893. The opening movie looks fantastic with lifelike snow and buildings painting an old-era

English atmosphere.

The concept is original -- the entire perspective of a new future must be seen through the eyes of a man from the year 1893. Oddly enough, the future, as depicted and portrayed in the game, is actually closer to the distant past of ancient civilizations. In The New Adventures of the Time Machine, nobody gets killed.

Over 800,000 years into the future, humanity is evolving into a race where people never die and are constantly rejuvenated by a Wave, the Breath of Khronos, that erases everyone's memory. Much of the beginning of the game is spent talking with various people of the city and trying to get a grip on some sort of reality.

When you speak with the Shekandar monks and go into the Chronomantic Sphere, you discover your abilities as a magician -- the game really begins at this point. The game is more about solving puzzles than performing actions but your magic powers can make enemies disappear (remember, no one dies in this future world -- they just disappear, only to reappear later).

The perspective of the game can often be disorienting. Just as in Martian Gothic, the camera angle switches as your character walks to new areas. But, in The New Adventures of the Time Machine, the angles switch so much as to be really confusing. It switches from normal angles and gives you perspectives from various places in your surroundings; often you have to remember certain landmarks in order to figure out your location. It's annoying and requires you to remember details of your surroundings.

When compared to the aforementioned other releases of DreamCatcher, The New Adventures of the Time Machine is much more attuned to gamers who enjoy action. It's no Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 but the magic abilities added to the role playing-like atmosphere is a nice touch. The game, however, doesn't offer much in the way of interaction with your surroundings.

After you talk with the monks in the monastery and enter the Chronomantic Sphere to learn your first three spells, you must find a relic to gain access to a Tripadon (camel-like creature) in order to journey to the Shekendar monks in the middle of the desert. It's not easy to locate the relic and figure out how to acquire the beast; on the other hand, interaction with people and the surroundings is very easy.

Much like a poorly drawn cartoon, the objects and buildings you need to notice stick out like a sore thumb. These are the things with which you interact and you can talk to any of the people (although most have little to say). It's still not easy to discover what you're doing, though, because you're on a mysterious journey beset with wacky camera angles.

The New Adventures of the Time Machine attempts to throw some action into DreamCatcher's lineup of mystery games but doesn't succeed very well. Most of the surroundings (buildings, objects and so forth) are only there for visual aesthetics and the fact that you can't interact with them really takes away from what could have been a very good game.

The action and events in the game are very guided and, although not always apparent, most times it's certainly not too difficult to figure out that you must go to a specific location or pick up an item that looks entirely out of place in its immediate surroundings. The game has excellent visuals, a promising storyline, very good graphics and a good soundtrack. These aspects prove interesting in the short term but, after a while, the game gets tiresome from the long periods of time spent trying to determine exactly what actions need to be performed.

Graphics: The game includes some eye catching, original graphics with a good theme and image of a distant future. The camera's constant movements can be annoying at times but also very necessary for maneuvering in the environment.

Sound: The original score of the game consists of very mysterious electronic music that has a Mid-East feel that complements the game's image. Character voices are done well and sound effects are decently detailed right down to the sound your feet make in the sand.

Enjoyment: Although the mystery of Wale's predicament makes you want to discover the depths of the World of Sand, the game is slow moving. Since little to no instruction is given on where you should go, it takes a while to figure out how to get there. In fact, it's difficult enough just to find your way around what should be a small town.

Replay Value: Once you've solved the mystery and beaten the game, there is no good reason for a replay. The fun factor isn't strong enough to warrant repeating the same journey.


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