in Time (1993)
wary gamer might do best to think of Coktel’s classic Lost in Time as an early progenitor of an Arxel Tribe game.
The plot is so convoluted as to be senseless and impossible to
follow. But the style and
puzzle content generally make the game worth the effort.
Lost in Time
follows the adventures of Doralice Prunelier, a rare (for the time)
The game begins with Doralice swimming to consciousness in the
hold of an old wooden sailing ship.
After some exploration, Doralice discovers a fellow captive who
clues her in to the fact that she is no longer in the year 1992, but
has somehow been transported a hundred or so years into the past.
She eventually discovers that the ship belongs to a criminal
time hopper from the future.
A “time cop” who has conveniently stowed away aboard the
ship enlists your aid to help bring the renegade time hopper to
justice and, incidentally, help prevent him from screwing up your own
Part of the game’s unique charm lies in the fact that the
vast majority of the game is played in the past, thus allowing the
chapter that takes place in 1992 to be presented as a flashback.
It is your/Doralice’s duty to uncover the mystery of just why
she and the ship’s other prisoner have been taken captive and assure
that her grandfather survives to actually become her grandfather.
something like that.
plot becomes an incomprehensible mishmash during Chapter Three, where
it is revealed that Somebody stole Somebody Else’s wife, but then
she had a baby by So-And-So, but her new husband didn’t care because
he was really only after the Treasure of Whatever, which is some
Radioactive Thing that will screw up time traveling.
Then, there is a side plot about two shamans who Doralice has
to make fall in love so that she can gain access to the household of
(depending on which version of the story you choose to believe) her
mother or great-grandmother.
advice is the same as it was for Ring.
Forget the plot. Play the game for the style and puzzling.
first puzzle in Lost in Time
is getting the game to play. Although
it will install under Win95/98, I was unable to get it to actually
play that way. Many
trials and tribulations finally convinced me that this was because the
game had a problem with my integrated SiS sound system.
Even following the advice on various sites instructing me how
to get LIT to operate in a
DOS window ended up with it freezing at the end of the introductory
cutscene. However, the
game ran perfectly fine when I broke down and ran it in DOS.
For those of you who are using WinXP, I highly recommend
downloading DOSbox before attempting to play LIT.
You will also have more luck if you choose the AdLib soundcard
during the setup, regardless of the soundcard or motherboard you
graphics are an incredibly odd mix.
LIT is presented in
the now-traditional 2D-1st-person-perspective-slideshow
format. For the great
majority of the game, the graphics are rendered static drawings with
occasional bits of animation. The
quality is somewhere between Gabriel
Knight and The Journeyman Project. (It
is hard to believe, sometimes, that Myst
came out only a year later.) Clicking
on an object performs whatever action you need, whether examining it,
moving it or “using” it. Sometimes
clicking on an item will bring up a small inset “close-up” window,
allowing a more detailed examination while leaving the main view in
the background. The real
strangeness comes in Chapter Two, when Doralice is in the
chapter is presented in primitive Full Motion Video. The main views are static FMV “photographs,” while the
close-up insets are full FMV, showing (for example) Doralice’s hands
pulling a battery out of a tractor while the larger main view shows
the static photo of the tractor itself.
The conversational cutscenes are also presented in FMV, with
the speaking actor set against a blurred white background and no
lip-synching even attempted. The
designers avoided the lip-synch problem during Doralice’s speeches
by only showing her face from the bridge of the nose up.
despite your never getting a look at her face, the combination of
repetitive close-ups of her eyes and grainy FMV videos of her body
manage to make Doralice one of the most attractive and sexy female
protagonists in adventure gaming.
I guess the old adage is right… it’s what you don’t
interface is a generally intuitive straight point-and-click.
However, given that so much of the game depends upon combining
inventory items, this portion of the interface is unnecessarily
clunky. Rather than
selecting an item and drag/clicking it directly onto another in your
inventory, the inventory window closes once you select an item, with
your cursor now replaced by the item icon.
You must re-open your inventory window a second time to combine
that icon with another item. Since
my copy of the game came without a manual, this took me quite awhile
to discover on my own, thus making the first part of the game
frustrating in the extreme.
with most adventure games of its era, the real emphasis of Lost in Time is on its puzzles.
Once again, we are offered an inconsistent mix.
Most all of the puzzling is inventory-based.
Doralice is no moron, possessing a smattering of knowledge of
physics and chemistry. The
majority of puzzles require you to combine and use everyday objects in
unconventional ways, often making use of this knowledge.
For the most part, I found the puzzles to be tough but fair.
In fact, most of them were a delight, really putting my brain
to the test about how I could combine the items at hand to produce the
desired result. Often I
had to reuse items in a variety of ways.
But every so often, I ran across a puzzle that flew in the face
of all the scientific logic of the rest of the game.
(SPOILER AHEAD!) For
instance, would even a professional chemist know that by combining
paint thinner and sea salts he can create a gas that will first make a
parrot sick, then make it hungry?
This bit of weirdness seemed to come straight out of a Chem101
class at Wassamatta U. I also found myself stymied when confronted with the
impossibility of “plexiglass” I could fold like paper; perhaps the
word means something different in its original French.
There were a few instances in which I had to resort to the old
“try using/combining every item in the inventory” trick.
there was the problem with searching desks, drawers, wardrobes, boxes
and other containers. Whenever
you click on such an object, you get to see a close-up view of the
drawer/box/etc. in question and see the found object within it.
However….. what you don’t
know (unless you are lucky enough to find a copy of the game that
includes the manual) is that you must search the drawer/box/etc. again
and again to see if there are any more items in it that weren’t
revealed during the first examination.
combination of having left behind items because I didn’t search a
drawer enough times and having to use inventory items in completely
nonsensical ways in what was otherwise a very logical puzzle-based
game proved exasperating at times.
Yet, overall, the puzzling was several cuts above any game in
recent years. If I ever
found myself suddenly trapped in the hold of a 19th Century
ship, Doralice is exactly the person I’d want at my side!
Bad For A Chick Flick
I have to give Lost in Time
a thumbs-up. It was ahead
of its time in many ways: the use of FMV, the choice of a female
protagonist, and the convoluted Dickens-meets-Bronte-meets-Verne
romantic plot. Despite
the truly horrid acting of the rest of the cast, Doralice’s perky
British lilt was generally on target and kept me interested through
even the most tedious and ridiculous bits of exposition.
The MacGyver-like puzzles truly shine, despite the occasional
bit of illogic. The puzzling joys outnumbered the drawback of the sappy and
incomprehensible storyline. However…
I highly recommend that if you go looking for a copy of Lost in Time that you make sure to purchase a copy that includes the
manual. You’ll save
yourself an Excedrin headache.
Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
Mystery Manor Home