The Time Machine -
The New Adventures
Release date CD-version: 2000
Release date DVD-version: 2001
12 years and up
Download demo 72 MB
The main menu
A review by slydos 24th December 2001
In the last months Modern Games offered a set of Cryo games as DVD-versions at low budget price. They can be acquired in shops between 10 and 15 DM (5 to 8 Euro). These DVD-versions came out in each case multilingual and under the English title - so also "Die Zeitmaschine - Die neuen Abenteuer" as "Time Machine - The New Adventures".
The following language versions are contained on the DVD: German, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch.
Installation and menu
The installation (between 60 and 400 MB on hard disk) does not make problems, however you must abort the intro again and again, if you restart after a playing break and after that arrive at the main menu, which has the form of a clock. Here you can - with the mouse or the keyboard as input instrument - load, save, quit, play the intro again or call a configuration-option menu.
There are 12 save-slots, to which you can add a text description and which are stored with the current picture. In the option menu one can adjust resolution, use of a 3D-card, volume and key allocation. In the manual an option "Display Score" is described, which isn't actually existing in the menu. During the game you can access the main menu with the escape-key.
The story is nominal based on H. G. Wells novel "The Time Machine", has however nothing to do with the model. In the manual to the game our leading actor is defined however as Herbert George Wells, while he weirdly mutated in the game to "Wales", but as short spoken as "Wells".
In the scarce intro we experience, how Wells/Wales starts his time machine in his London laboratory in the year 1893. Before he leaves, a strange object appears out of the nonentity, and Wells/Wales takes the spiral shell, called Nautilus. He lands in the future - from where Wells/Wales exactly knows that it is the year 800,000, will remain his little secret, because his time machine disappears in a flash immediately after his arrival.
So his return home is blocked and Wells/Wales must willy nilly make himself familiar with this other world and its different customs and regulations. Our hero enters an oriental looking desert city, which could thus have looked just as well 500 B.C. or also 1000 A.C..
He tries to talk to some of the running around inhabitants but most do not have time to argue with this estray and so he runs around trying to orientate. Wells/Wales must try to attain further information, to get at all the chance that he could sometime return into his time.
In the course of the game Wells/Wales receives information about the world in which he is. There are the sand people, who are afflicted again and again by time waves in the city of the sandglass. On the one hand they lose their memory by this waves, on the other hand they are transformed into another age level. Only inaugurated people, like the Shekandar monks, have the means to oppose the memory loss by the wave of the God Khronos. Our hero will also attain such magic charms and spells during the game - they give him magic abilities and let him stand the numerous fights.
First the gamer is confused some time and errs clumsily around the city of the sandglass. After some time Wells/Wales finds some interlocutors, who will tell him a bit more. First you become lavished with a quantity of new vocables, e.g. Adhamid, Shekandar, Mothripode or Effahid. For this purpose however there is the small Dictionary of the Sand in the manual and you slowly learn, what the people are telling you.
Together with Wells/Wales one becomes acquainted with this people and the secrets of the wave. I'm sorry - but this time travel story did not impress me at all. Too complicated through foreign words, too lacerated by constant fighting and dying, too complicated by the pedantic controls, it not even excited me, to reach the next level, simply because only heavier opponents and still more deaths waited there for me.
I only found the freedom to explore the environment in very few places and I could hardly identify myself with my hero, since I learned nothing personal of him and he appeared to me more like a feelingless robot in his different embodiments.
The game is controlled exclusively with the keyboard. In the initial phase the gamer should first make himself/herself familiar with the controls, since it is vital afterwards to be able to hit the correct keys fast and suitably. Our hero, whom we can almost exclusively watch from some distance in the 3rd-person-perspective, is controlled by the arrow keys. As known from other games, simultaneouly pressing the shift key lets him run. The key allocation is various and complicated. Here some key allocations - which can be also assigned by the gamer to other keys:
Jump back: Alt+down arrow, bend down: Alt+up arrow, side step to left or right: Alt+left/right arrow, push an object: keep spacebar and up arrow pressed, turn a steering wheel to the right: keep spacebar and right arrow pressed, fighting and conjuring: Strg etc. - the keys and combination of keys are described relatively scarcely and incompletely in the manual.
Wells/Wales acts mainly with spacebar, hereby he can take up e.g. objects or address characters, climb or jump. Since you have to shift frequently between walking and other actions back and forth, it was extremely disturbing with the circumstantial controls, that just when it depends on splits of seconds, there was always a delay, until the next keystroke was executed. So I very often had to hit the action key twice after using the movement key, in order to switch e.g. to climbing.
Spells, that you learn during the game, can be recalled in the chronomantic menu, opened with the key "c". Here you must click laboriously through the icons again with the arrow keys (here you can use mouse or keyboard) until you can select a spell. Exactly the same with the inventory, which you can open with the key "i" and which likewise extends over the entire screen. In order to be able to keep up later in fights and with time-dependent sequences at all, it is recommendable to store spells and inventory items on the shortcut keys 1 to 9.
In order to use an object from the inventory, Wells/Wales must first take it into his hand. Then you must leave the inventory and press spacebar, in order to use the item. you must remove the object again from the hand with the "0"-key, if you want to execute another action with spacebar, e.g. jumping. A matter, which I often forgot in the eagerness of combat, what often resulted in immediate death. Likewise with spells and fights - both are executed with the Strg-key. If you select a spell and at the same time carry a weapon, the Strg-key always executes the spell. If you want to fire the weapon, you must press the Return-key, in order to remove the spell. Since you'll always need a spell again immediately, this must be loaded again, then executed with the Strg-key and unloaded again. It can't be worse!
As it was already reminiscent, "Time Machine" is not an adventure game, but an action-adventure, in some parts a pure action game. The title "The New Adventures" is only misleading here. The game consists of 10 sections with a action portion of 80%. Only 2 sections give the gamer ease to examine the environment, without bringing him each second in danger of death. Fans of the classical adventure genre are hereby thus warned - here fewer brain than finger acrobatics is required. The relatively simple puzzles often consist of finding and using an object or spell. You simply have to press the spacebar everywhere on suspicion, because an indication of hotspots does not exist. Usable objects usually differ from their environment by a glint of the edge pixels.
Some machines must be handled in a certain order, one should be at the correct place at the right time and speak with the correct persons (already a puzzle itself, because the individual characters very much resemble each other). There are often acoustic puzzles, sequence puzzles and one must find out, which spell or magic item provides the best assistence under certain circumstances.
Here and there crates must be shifted to the correct places - in well-known Sokoban manner - what usually turns out as difficult, if one is under continuous bombardment. Here you can lose your life and points of magic so fast that you have really no time to take a breath. Often the logic behind a puzzle was missing to me: Why am I to repair the machine beside the well, which doesn't look defective and the old, ill lady asks me only for assistance against her pain. Here an artificial connection was designed and lets us only shake our heads.
Life and magic points are displayed at the bottom left corner of the screen by gleaming points in the Nautilus. Each spell reduces the points of magic. Likewise during each game save a half point of magic is taken off. So it can be, that the hero still lives but neither could defend himself with a spell nor save the game, because his magic level is zero. Then only loading of an already saved game helps.
If Wells/Wales is attacked and hit, he loses points of life, and depending upon strength of the opponents so fast, that the long-winded "Game Over" sequence becomes the continuous display. Life and magic strength can be increased however by certain objects during the game again, additionally the level is repaired after a time wave automatically.
In the entire game, however particularly with fights, you have to place the leading actor exactly, in order to be able to execute actions. Like his opponents he couldn't shoot upward or down, but must face them and look them straight into the eyes keeping a certain angle and distance, in order to hit.
If you move to close to your opponent, you sometimes cannot hit him and you get captured in a continuous loop - and only loading a saved game helps here. The Time Machine contains a large number of dead ends. If you did not receive e.g. a certain object or a spell in one chapter, then it can be that you do not get ahead without it two chapters later.
In combination with the small number of save slots it's another attack on game fun and motivation. It is positive that puzzles or fights can often be concerned and solved in different ways. Like that it is also possible to obviate one or another fight - unfortunately much too seldom.
The 3D-background-graphics are indistinct and rough and our 3D-character Wells/Wales often disappears in a wall or runs into things. The environment in the year 800,000 is not designed very imaginative and could be also at every other time in an oriental country. A number of equal looking NPCs moves e.g. through the city, whereby I actually could differentiate only by the voices whether it is a man or woman.
There is a large vagueness by the fast changing camera angles. When you just found your orientation, our hero is shown in the plan view from another corner, so you get puzzled where to run. A particular unpleasant situation occurs, if Wells/Wales is attacked, and one can detect however the aggressor only if Wells/Wales moves to the correct spot, where the scene is shown from another view angle. It is unnecessary to say that you can die here usually very fast. The mobile characters have rough edges and are often unrecognizable. There are no close-ups, so that it was also not necessary, to think at all about the mimic. Also the gesturing of our leading actor is missing almost completely. Even the cutscenes don't attract attention by their graphics quality.
Some quite fitting oriental music themes accompany the game and the few noises e.g. steps in the sand are not very synchronous with the movements. Wells'/Wales' adult voice appears to me quite well done, while his child's voice sounded really peeping, the same as his childlike fellows. Overall speech appeared to me not so professional than in other Cryo games and I had the impression that young girls spoke male characters and boys female ones. Or a Lemur in a sphere ball had the same voice, as the priest before it.
The often pathetic texts run automatically in the dialogues. You press the spacebar until a character begins to repeat the texts. There are no dialogue selections. It is also not possible e.g. to simply ask people what the place is called and where to go. You always get the same response: "No time."
In order to be honest - I tormented myself (over weeks) with this game and was often facing a frustrated surrender. For me the help of a walkthrough was necessary, in order to master the action parts, what was no fun. Lack in graphics and occasional crashes back to the "blue screen" could have been endured. But here the demands of an adventure gamer were easily ignored. Under the coat of the Legends-label unsuspecting adventure lovers are enticed to purchase an action game that will surely leave frustration for those, expecting an adventure in the well-known Cryo style. You can't find here the freedom of investigation or mental quarreling with a puzzle. One is driven from one "Game Over" to the next, must weather through a multiplicity of deadly fights and even must sacrifice life points when solving puzzles.
I can imagine that the inaccurate controls, the torn story, some dead ends and occasional crashes will also enrage some action gamers too.
I cannot recommend this game with clear consciences (even if it is available for approximately 10 DM now) -
therefore my rating: 35%
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Minimal system requirements:
- Windows 95/98
- 32 MB RAM
- Video card 2 MB, 3D video card
- Sound card (DirectX 6 compatible)
- 60 MB free space on hard disk
- Pentium III 850
- 128 MB RAM
- Sound- and graphic card DirectX-compatible
- Toshiba DVD-ROM
The city of the sandglass
In the temple
In the shpere you can learn spells
This woman wants to trade
Riding on the Three-Leg
In the monastery
The menu of the spells
Character details are not very marked
Wells/Wales gets imprisoned