A point-and-click slideshow game that's pretty long in the tooth... Is The Labyrinth of Time worth going back to?
Picture this. An adventure game released waaaay back in 1992/93. A first person point-and-click game with slideshow navigation through a mysterious world which has been threatened by an evil genius. This is a maze-filled game that even a maze hater (like me) could like.
THE DAEDALUS ENCOUNTER
First, the set up. Your character is living a very grey life in New York City. Nothing interesting ever happens to you. Until today! What happens? Well, you're minding your own business in the subway when who should appear to you but Daedalus. You know, from mythology, the guy who built the original labyrinth. He tells you that the very fabric of space/time is in trouble due to an evil presence that only YOU can stop. Hey, it's an adventure game, right?
Suddenly your world is no longer gray. Colors everywhere! You venture off of the subway and into . . . Yes! Into The Labyrinth of Time!!
At first, the Labyrinth appears to just be a seedy old hotel. As you begin exploring, however, this quickly turns out not to be the case.
The game is in a first person, point and click format with slideshow navigation. The art is splendid throughout, and in the course of the game you get to explore such varied visual environments as a circus mirror maze, a Minoan palace, an Aztec pyramid, a wild west town, an art deco theater, and many more.
The entire game area is one huge maze, with each are being a smaller maze unto itself. Now, calm down, I said! Stay with me here . . . What makes this all palatable is the excellent mapping feature that the game designers very intelligently (and mercifully) included. This map feature expands as you explore more territory, and at any moment will show you exactly where you are in relation to the other areas you have explored.
The puzzles are pretty standard, inventory-based and mild tiddleware. This is not the area the game shines the most in, because the puzzles are not terribly logical. I'm not a fan of what I call "arbitrary" puzzle solutions, and Labyrinth is guilty of this sin to a certain extent.
However, the story, which is slowly revealed to you through a variety of library computer files, letters, journals, and museum exhibits, is pretty nifty. It's an entertaining bunch of hooey about a mad scientist (how many sane scientists have you come across in these games?) who's mad lust for power has disrupted the space time continuum. You've got to find a way to destroy his evil plans.
This game is rewarding for the patient gamer, because each new area you find, each new puzzle you solve or door you open, further opens up this, well, this labyrinthine world. Adding to the fun are teleportation devices and journals with content that changes retroactively as you make changes in the "timestream."
The Labyrinth of Time is one of those games that really benefits from having a coherent visual style that comes from a single artist. In this case it's the talented Bradley Schenck. He was the art director on the visually stunning I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and Labyrinth really benefits from his work.
Beautiful art, intriguing mystery, mazes that even a maze hater can tolerate. Okay, there's lots of mazes! Also, the puzzles at times are fairly logical, involving a lot of backtracking. Still, worth the time of the curious adventure game completist.
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