Haven’t we all grown tired of the Atlantis, Egypt, and Mayan adventures? They’ve been done and trodden into the ground. Yes, they are fascinating mysteries of our past, but enough, already! Now here I want to say, “Just wait a minute!” How many of those have been done well? Far too few for my liking – but now I found one that does it in style! Timelapse treats all these areas well, beautifully and fairly, and adds one more to boot – the Anasazi culture.
The story begins on Easter Island, ho-hum, right? Wrong, even the brief time spent there was done beautifully. We are summoned to Easter Island by Professor Nichols to help him in his somewhat dubious pursuit of the connections between the Mayans, Anasazi, Egyptians, and the Atlanteans, and their receipt of assistance from what can only be outer space. He has been scorned by his colleagues, and only we can help. We wander along the paths of Easter Island, find his journal, his campsite, and with a few needed items, begin our journey. Stories translated from the former natives indicate that the aliens seemed to come from the rocky hills. Time to explore. When we enter the cave we find, we see a fascinating device of unknown materials, certainly not something that was constructed by an ancient peoples. A globe-like device brings up a channel to our lost professor, where he implores us to hurry to meet him. The device below it brings us to a different world in time and space. By choosing the symbol, we are transported to ancient Egypt, the Mayan civilization, the Anasazi culture, and finally to Atlantis.
Each culture and era we visit is rich in detail and we learn some of its lore. Each area is strangely devoid of people, as if they suddenly vanished, leaving meals half prepared, other work still in progress. This absence is unexplained, but perhaps it can be understood that if you interacted with someone in the past, you could perhaps change the future in unpredictable ways – the paradox of time travel. You might, for instance prevent the meeting of your parents, then how could you be born to travel back in time? Each area presents us with different challenges to tax our minds. In Egypt we must enter the temples, but first we have to get there – by boat. We need to identify the sacred gods by their symbols. We have many puzzles to solve here before we receive the round stone we need in order to proceed. There are two brief action scenes here that can be solved quickly, but could cause death.
In the Mayan culture are the game’s most difficult puzzles: the Mayan calendar puzzle, the ill-fated slider puzzle (this was programmed, apparently without the parity check which would enable a solve from any random generation of the puzzle; unfortunately, about half the time the puzzle is insoluble), and the skeleton puzzle. I personally had no trouble with either the slider or the skeleton, but they each have a devious twist to them – be forewarned. With the calendar puzzle, all the info you need is readily available. My most difficult time was in the Anasazi area. Even using a map, I was hopelessly lost here. There is one difficult puzzle in this area, where one must shoot an arrow through a hole in a rock spire. If really stuck, however, there is a cheat to get one past this part.
The final area, Atlantis is bright, futuristic and lovely. There is a serenity found here that is almost palpable. The only bad spot, near the end, is a timed sequence which requires you to shoot a robot, before he kills you. There are apparently three different endings, and you can choose which to select if you glance at a walkthrough for this area.
This game is a visual delight, a puzzle-lovers fantasy, and a fun game to play. The puzzles range from medium difficult to extremely difficult to solve. The puzzles were totally integrated into the environments. There was never the sense that you needed to stop what you were doing to solve a puzzle. Nearly every sound and graphic display provided clues to assist you in your goal. Birds and animals in the areas gave you direction. Nothing was wasted in this game. Each little piece had its place. Everything was significant, and well fitted into the whole. And because it was so well designed, the whole was much greater than the sum of its parts.
There wasn’t much music, but what there was, was well done and appropriate to the surroundings. Sound effects were perfect for the individual areas; water sounds were especially well done. In fact the sound effects needed to be done well. There are times when the background sounds of the weather or the local wildlife are actually parts of a puzzle! This is another example of the seamless integration of puzzles and environment I mentioned earlier. You play in the first person perspective, in worlds empty of people, for the most part. You have a few videos to watch for information, which are short, and can be bypassed. The interface is node based 2D preformed backgrounds with point and click movement. With the exception of the Anasazi area, which was maze-like for me, navigation was easy and intuitive.
This game ran well for me on my Win98SE, having been released in 1996. It did require a bit of disc swapping, and you needed to start the game with the first CD, then switch to the appropriate one for the area you were in. There were a few issues: the slider puzzle may give an insoluble layout; there were a few puzzles that gave no immediate feedback as to whether the solution had been reached (one was a stopper for me in the Anasazi area); and there are three short action sequences, which required a quick response or death occurred. If you died, you had to restore from a game save – fortunately you can save at any time, and as many times as you like.
Timelapse was a very well designed game, with gorgeous graphics, and a zillion puzzles. While there were a few problems as mentioned, this is one of my all-time favorite games, easily finding a place in my top five. By all means, if you can find this game, do so, it is a long, beautiful journey, and a very enjoyable one.
Pentium 100MHz processor
16 MB of RAM
4X CD-ROM drive
Super VGA graphics card
90 MB Hard drive space
A special thanks to my editorial partner, BJ
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