The Labyrinth of Time

Developer:  Terra Nova Development
Publisher:  Electronic Arts
Year Released:  1993

Review by Rosemary Young (October, 1996)
lab.jpgThis title pre-dates the time of spectacular introductions, so don't expect to be entertained by an opening video sequence. Labyrinth of Time begins simply with a few screens of large text informing you that you are just an ordinary, jaded commuter, struggling to make sense of your life in the big smoke. A quick scan of the underground, and at your train pulling into the station; the sensation of something strange happening, and you are suddenly visited by an apparition -- Daedelus, the architect of the fabled Labyrinth of the infamous King Midas.

Daedelus delivers his chilling message: Midas is up to his old tricks once again. This time he has ordered Daedelus to build a labyrinth that encompasses time and space. Hence, everywhere and everytime is in danger, and you have been randomly chosen to save the world. You must destroy the labyrinth before it's too late.

Abundant mazes and other puzzles
Now it shouldn't be surprising to anyone that, being about King Midas and with a word like labyrinth in the title, this game contains the odd maze or two. Well, it has 4 or 5 of them -- it's almost one big maze -- so don't even think about playing it if you hate negotiating mazes. Conversely, if you enjoy mazes then it is probably more to your liking, but even though I fall into this category, I thought they were overdone. Admittedly, the story is about labyrinths so they should feature strongly in the game, but the trouble is, there is quite a bit of too-ing and fro-ing necessary in the course of play, and sometimes the pathway that must be travelled again and again contains a couple of mazes. Even for me they can lose their charm after a while.

However, there is more to Labyrinth of Time than solving labyrinths. If you want to save the world you have to search the gameworld diligently to learn how, and what is necessary, to accomplish your task. In the process you must travel through time to locate various objects (what you need for one time zone is not necessarily in the same time or even in the same place) and, ultimately, you must contrive to change the course of history by tampering with the past. This part of play, gaining access to locked rooms, locating particular objects and testing what implications your actions might have in another time and place is fun and interesting, though, I must admit, to finishing the game with the feeling that there could have been more.

Dimensions of play
The idea of a labyrinth breaching time and space lends itself to lots of possibilities for inventing tricky puzzles but somehow this game doesn't sufficiently capitalise on those possibilities. Though there are some intricate puzzles requiring the manipulation of objects in different dimensions this aspect of play could have been developed further to make it more complex and involving.

This is, perhaps, one of the main problems with this game, it isn't really involving enough, or friendly enough. Even though the graphics are very good, and there are a number of environments to explore, the gameworld feels somehow sterile and empty, and this feeling is exacerbated by the lack of game characters to interact with and the number of mazes.

For want of a better word, Labyrinth of Time lacks that certain 'something' that makes a really enjoyable game. Still, whilst it will never be a classic, it does have something to offer the intrepid adventurer. The interface is very simple and is mouse controlled with the action icons allowing you to look, push, open, close and take. There are 10 save game slots as well as text prompts throughout, and an excellent map to assist navigation -- if only it could have been used for instant travel once the gameworld had been explored.

As a full price product Labyrinth of Time falls short of value for money but as a budget purchase it's worth consideration. It comes on one CD and plays directly from the disk. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1996. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
386/16 or faster, 2 MB extended memory, VGA, MS DOS 3.3 or higher, CD ROM (2xCD ROM recommended), mouse. Supported: Soundblaster and 100% compatible souncards, SVGA VESA compatible video cards (640 x 480:512K VRAM)