The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time
It's no surprise that this game is the sequel to The Journeyman Project, and since I haven't played the first game (my hardware wasn't up to scratch at the time of its release) I can't make any comparisons in this review. I can say, however, that the story is closely related, and the interface is similar with a relatively small game playing area and a point system to keep track of progress.
With regard to the scoring system, the manual points out that in this episode there are no point penalties related to the length of time spent exploring a location and solving puzzles. Hence, the pressure is off, you don't have to rush around madly this time. No doubt this is very good news for many adventure game players who see scoring maximum points as a challenge, but still want to spend time in exploration. I can never understand why game designers choose to penalise us for taking our time to savour their games.
In this adventure you play the character of Gage Blackwood, Agent 5, in the employ of the TSA (Temporal Security Agency). The year is 2318, and time travel is now a reality, as is the possibility of someone meddling in the past and influencing the course of history . The TSA is a covert government agency with a mandate to oversee all time travel and be sure that temporal tampering doesn't happen.
You are in your space-age apartment, basking in the glory of your last exploit when you foiled the plans of a saboteur who was intent on disrupting history and thus preventing Earth from joining the Symbiotry of Peaceful Beings. Suddenly you have a visitor, none other than yourself, Gage Blackwood, who has zapped back through time to elicit your help. (Eek, I thought it meant big trouble to meet yourself on such an excursion). Anyway, you soon learn that ten years in the future your reputation is in tatters, you have been accused of sabotage, and before you know it, you time-jump forward to begin your adventure.
The future you is imprisoned, but the present you is free to do what must be done to expose the real saboteur and restore your name. By this time space travel technology has improved and the TSA has expanded to include the DTU (Deep Time Unit), whose members travel back in time to research history. Thus there are a number of suspects who have access to time travel. Earth is now a full member of the Symbiotry of Peaceful Beings, and a conference being held to discuss the possible sharing of time travel technology with alien beings, provides a possible motive.
On starting out there is lots to do in your future apartment to gather information and make preparations for your coming adventure. Your objective is to travel to four separate time zones; the Farnstein space laboratory in the year 2282, a studio of Leonardo Da Vinci in Milan in 1488, the Chateau Gaillard in Normandy in 1204, and the Mayan city of Chichen Itza in 1050 and to collect evidence of spatial anomalies. These you must meticulously record. At one location you will pick up an electronic hitchhiker named Arthur, who will help out with the occasional hint and even solve problems for you if you are willing to sacrifice some game points.
Your search through time for spatial anomalies will involve a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, for even though they are simple to record, getting to them isn't quite so simple. Once you have travelled to a particular time zone you are then faced with the problem of opening that door or scaling that tower if you want to look around carefully. There are a number of inventory items to collect to assist, but they won't necessarily be in the location where they are needed. At Chichen Itza you will explore a Mayan pyramid, decipher Mayan writing for clues, and collect various pieces of a puzzle to access the vital location. At Da Vinci's studio there is a medieval mechanical device to assemble and at the space laboratory there is a maze of sorts to negotiate which isn't easy when you are running out of air.
Although the playing area is quite small (you get a taste of how Ned Kelly must have felt -- Aussie reference) with a window on the screen surrounded by game controls, the locations are amazingly well represented and finely detailed. The game is played in the first person perspective and mouse controlled, although there are keyboard commands for many functions such as saving and restoring. The inventory is located below the action window where there is a magnifying glass icon to call up a useful description of inventory objects. Clicking on directional arrows allows for smooth movement from one location to the next and, if the going gets too slow, there is a key function to speed matters up.
Buried in Time also has two modes of play, adventuring mode and walkthrough mode, which makes it very playable for novice adventures. In the walkthrough mode Arthur is much more helpful and some of the puzzles have been omitted or simplified. All in all a very enjoyable game with some interesting puzzles and a thought provoking storyline. Can the human race be trusted not to misuse time travel technology?
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1997.
All rights reserved.
486DX, Win 3.1 or higher, 8MB Ram, 10MB hard disk space, SVGA, Windows compatible soundcard, 2x CD-ROM, external speakers recommended.