Beyond Time

1997 Jones & Jones Multimedia
Designed by Judith K. Jones, Jose E. Melendez, Frederic H. Jones
Reviewed 2001 May 9

Rating -5 Linearity narrow, branching
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity minimal
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance moderate
Interface 1st paned simple Real-time none

Valuable historical and artistic objects are mysteriously disappearing from the world's most prestigious universities. You investigate the matter. This leads you to time travellers and a madman. You must help stop the madman.

The story is presented in a "read notes" fashion, where you uncover the events of the past as you explore. It's an uninspired tale of time travel to the usual megalithic tourist traps. The "past" events of the time travellers are too clichéd to be gripping, with exaggerated characters, and a maniac in charge. Nothing really happens during play, just a scavenger hunt for crystals.

The challenges are easy and uncreative. The only difficulty comes from the distance between the presentation of clues and their application. The game takes notes for you, although there might be problems if you don't thoroughly explore one section before continuing on -- I didn't check if it's always possible to go back to areas where the clues are presented, but it would be tedious. There are several standalone puzzles, and these are marred by poor programming: in some cases valid solutions aren't accepted; in another the game does not present a consistent physical reality.

The presentation is a first person slide show, like Myst. The graphics are standard for this kind of game, and the sound and acting are as good as you could expect from a low budget production. The interface is the basic point and click. The inventory pops up on the side, not obscuring any of the main view; for reasons unknown, the programs closes it instead of just leaving it there. I had some small difficulty using inventory objects: the select often didn't grab the object. You don't use a lot of inventory, so it's not a big deal.

Beyond Time feels like yet another game where a graphic designer or historian or whatever discovers the joys of a computer 3D studio. The story and challenges are afterthoughts by people with no expertise and, apparently, little experience in those areas. There is little to do, and little reason to do it, and when you finally do do something, it's apt to be frustratingly buggy.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.