Lost In Time

Developer/Publisher:  Coktel Vision
Year Released:  1993

Review by Rosemary Young (March, 1998)
lit.jpgWhen I first played this game back in 1994 I'm sure there were promises of more games in the series. They haven't materialised so I imagine that Lost in Time wasn't a huge financial success. Pointedly, the term 'success' only bears a direct relationship to finances; it isn't necessarily the last word on the quality of a game. So even though Lost in Time might not have succeeded in this respect it was (and still is) a most enjoyable game.

Back in time
It's a first-person perspective adventure, with third-person interludes presented in video sequences, and is one of the rare adventures that has a female protagonist.

In this game you play the character of Doralice Prunelier who, with your help, is an extremely resourceful individual and can get out of any scrape. The puzzles are of the 'find the object' variety and rely more on common sense than an inventive imagination to resolve them. By this I mean you will find familiar objects in the game environment that can be put to good use rather than grappling with weird and wonderful solutions to wacky problems. Doralice is the female counterpart to McGyver, and she's very good at improvisation.

Back and forth
You (or Doralice) begin this adventure as you regain consciousness on an old sailing ship. The mystery begins immediately as you don't know where you are. All you know is that you were visiting the manor that you had just inherited and somehow you landed yourself in another place ... and another time.

There's nothing for it but to begin exploring and this initial exploration sets some interesting problems such as escaping your prison, opening a locked chest and draining water from the ship's hold. Soon you will meet a couple of prisoners; a slave and another time-traveller like yourself, and things slowly begin to fall into place as you learn about an intrigue of 'timely' proportions and your relevance to it. Of course, you'll want to talk about your experience with your fellow time-traveller, so after finding a way to free him, the next part of the game zaps you back to 1992 to tell/re-live your visit to the old manor.

At the manor there is another sequence of puzzles to solve and improvisation is once more the name of the game. Here there is an interesting variation on the old 'get the key from behind the locked door' trick. After completing this flashback (or should that be flashforward?) sequence you (the player) have learned of the events leading up to Doralice finding herself on a sailing ship in 1840. Then it's back to the ship and time for more exploration to fit more pieces of the puzzle together. Eventually you will make your way to St Christobald where you complete your quest.

Great for its time
Even at the 'advanced' age of four to five years Lost in Time is still a fascinating game. The problems are not too difficult, but then neither are they a total 'walk-over'. I still reached for a walkthrough several times on this repeat playing. If you do get stuck there's a bit of help in the game itself in the form of three 'Jokers', but once you've used them up, that's it. Along with the Jokers it also has a handy diary that keeps track of proceedings, as well as a map for instant travel.

The game is mouse controlled with a drop down inventory that sits at the top of the screen along with other menus. Hotspots are identified by text descriptions and a 'left click' will allow you to pick up or operate an item or sometimes the area selected will appear in a small window as you zoom in on it. If this is the case you will either find a useful item or be warned that there is something more to do in that location. It's an interesting technique and takes no time at all to get used to.

The graphics are still quite acceptable if you don't mind seeing a pixel or two though I must admit, the final section of the game is, and always was, disappointing. It didn't impress me when I first played it and it hasn't improved with age. Fortunately, it's the shortest section of the game so it's not too damaging. Also, there are a lot of text translations and some of the dialogue and commentary is odd because it is a translation from the original French. This is easily excusable, but for players who rely on text, be warned, there is no text for the video sequences and this is where the tangled story is revealed.

Lost in Time hails from the French Company, Coktel Vision who also gave us Ween: The Prophecy and Woodruff and the Schnibble, amongst other games. Sadly, Coktel (who were eventually taken under the wing of Sierra) seem to have joined the long list of developers of adventure games who have either disappeared or turned away from the genre. This seems to be an increasing trend at the moment so adventure games are in relatively short supply. The good news here for newer players is that there really is a whole treasury of old games to choose from, and Lost in Time is one that's well worth chasing up.

Note - There is a patch for this game put out by Sierra that addresses some of the video and soundblaster compatibility issues. Quandary has archived it here for you. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1998. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
286/16 (386 recommended), 640K RAM min, VGA, Soundcard, CD ROM Drive.