Review by Kateet
Beyond Time is based on the novel 'Obelisk' by Dr. Judith Kaye Jones, produced by Jones and Jone Multimedia (Dr. Judith Jones and her husband Dr. Frederick Jones) and published by Prima Publishing. It so happens, I have the book and I did read it.
About 500 years in Earth's future there is a 'Great Cataclysm' when virtually all life on Earth is destroyed. By this time, however, mankind has spread out to the stars but much of mankind's historical artifacts perished in the Cataclysm. Although they tried to replicate these artifacts, a new and worthy goal arose when an archeologist, Dr. John Howard, exploited the development of a new technology, a time gate. Through the use of this time gate, Dr. Howard and his followers could visit the sites of ancient cultures and gather up those priceless artifacts, transporting them into the future for safekeeping.
You enter the story in our present, sent to determine why these same artifacts have suddenly begun to disappear from museums and archeological digs around the world. "Even the most advanced security systems did not detect a single intrusion," you learn.
And so you travel to present day Abydos where a gold, Seti I statuette reappeared, half buried in the sand, after having disappeared from it's locked case in the Cairo Museum. While you explore the site, you approach a magnificent stone statue and a bright light flares from the statue, nearly blinding you. As the brillance fades, you look around and find yourself not in the ancient, archeological dig but in a city as new and as lovely as the day it was built.
The Bad News:
Your field of view is narrow and directly ahead with a small view screen. By going to 480X600 pixels although keeping it to 16 bit, you can improve the situation with a larger screen. I found it alittle claustrophobic but I got used to it.
I didn't have any lag or sound problems with the game. However, there are frequent video sequences at some points in the game and, for me, the problem was a tendency for them to pause for long moments, hang permanently, or crash to the desktop but I could restart the game and the same sequence might play through without any problems....or not.
In addition, the narrative tended towards either overly melodramatic in an obviously sophmoric way or incredibly stilted with little or no use of contractions. Since the narration contained the same style of speaking and emphasis of words, it was saved only by the fact that the actors themselves were engaging. It becomes obvious that the writing and directing of the narration was the primary problem. The actors were fine.
Only one puzzle complaint, aside from there not being enough, is that there were two puzzles of the same type for which there was more than one solution but the game would accept ONLY one solution. That was especially confusing when I solved the first one, or thought I did, but didn't give the only acceptable solution.
Another complaint is that some of what was required crossed not only culture and language but also technology at inappropriate instances. Somehow, I do not think a single Egyptian would have made it into his version of "heaven" should he be faced with inputting a number from a language not even invented yet into an electronic device completely beyond his imagination much less understanding.
The Good News:
Navigation is point and click and you tend to move reasonable distances most of the time. You can almost always look around. Reasonably thorough exploration and attention to your surroundings tends to suffice well enough in finding clues and objects. Everything you need is provided, even though some kinds of information are found in places that make little sense. Well, they had to put it SOMEWHERE!
The cursor doesn't ALWAYS change to indicate interaction which was actually confusing only once but the clues given for that particular puzzle were more solution than hint so it only took some patience and perseverance.
The game carries the plot which you can learn about, virtually in it's entirety, from the booklet that comes with the game. You might, therefore, wonder what the game has to tell you. What it does, primarily, is give the story a more personal touch from those who were involved. It lacks a feeling of involvement on your part, more a picking up of the pieces, but it has it's interesting moments to be sure.
There is no character interaction and the story seems to end with abrupt finality only to add a sort of video postscript that seems not only gothically melodramatic but also more of a tacked on promise of a possible sequence.
MAZES: I identified three of these.
The Labyrinth~ A maze mostly by virture of the "view with blinders on" but actually isn't anymore of a maze than any floor of a modern office block. Its that tunnel vision sense that makes it so difficult.
Tikal~ A sort of "mini maze" but you don't need a map and there isn't much here to do anyway. Hint: Remember where you parked!
Atlantis~ Underwater, somekind of sub? You press crystals forward, left, right, and turn around. It's a maze because you have no "path". If you weren't paying attention, you won't even know why you are there. It isn't especially difficult but it does take some patience.
Beyond Time is a nice game with only a couple of difficult mathematics puzzles. For those who like solitary exploration, a story that keeps to the premise of the game throughout, some pretty nice scenary to look at not to mention an actress you should recognize if you played Timelapse and background music I did not find the least bit intrusive (actually that was well done), this is for you.
If you're looking for excitement...look elsewhere.