Title: The New Adventures of the Time Machine
Genre: Action / Adventure
Big Word: Unwells
Strap: The spinning sound you can hear is HG Wells turning in his grave.
Cryo. Would you all like to stand, and join me in a "Hmmmmmmmmmm". Thank you. Please sit down again. (And no fidgeting at the back.) It isnít exactly a name to hang alongside the likes of id, Bullfrog, or Looking Glass in the Gaming Halls of Fame. It isnít even a name to hang in the toilets of said museum. Although interestingly, it is a name that should be hanged.
When it comes to track records, Cryo are less your Linford Christieís, and more your Vanessa Feltzí. Their stream of Myst-clone titles have repeatedly offended the sensibilities of your average PC adventuring gamer. Famous for that fixed-point movement, and puzzles which are barely adequately described by the word "obscure", titles like Faust and Egypt havenít quite gone down in history with the likes of Monkey Island or Sam and Max.
But is this all about to change? Cryo have been spending the last year developing a brand new engine, imaginatively named, Cryogen. Instead of the Myst-like ways of old, an original and fully 3D world has been built. Try to imagine the Tomb Raider engine, but viewed through CCTV. As you move your character about a scene, the top down view rotates to follow you, much as one of those small grey cameras adorning the streets of Britain would show your antics to the local constabulary.
But the engine is really a distraction in an adventure title. Anyone who remembers the joys of text adventures will know that no matter how much juice can be squeezed from your 3D card, it isnít going to make a blind bit of difference to the game. And oh boy, the engine doesnít make a blind bit of difference to this game.
You are HG Wells, who as we all know, didnít have a time machine. But thanks to The New Adventures of Superman, the world now thinks he did. So as Wells, you jump into your time machine, and as the old story goes, get thrown 800,000 years "away" to a desert world, and then changed into a little boy by a mysterious wave of light, thatÖ Hang on. Pardon? What? And no.
It is so agonizingly frustrating. Why havenít they learned? Cryo have put so much effort into what is nearly a brilliant engine, and then made all the same mistakes. The puzzles donít make sense; the story doesnít unfold in order, allowing you to solve puzzles before you have heard of them; and the plot is as dull as Telford.
The adventure game has once again not been saved. And in the nicest possible
way Cryo, could you just stop trying? Youíre only making things worse.
The French Horn
Cryo are a strange collection. Despite the fact that they seem only able to make appalling adventure games, they always look stunning, and have the most fantastic music. Time Machine is no exception. While not matching the remarkable soundtrack they put together for Faust, the music here is never irritating, and sometimes breathtaking. Begin your "why-oh-why-ing" now.
Verdict: Cryo have once more enforced their reputation as a company who Just Donít Get It.