Labyrinth of Time




Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Terra Nova Development

Publisher:    Electronic Arts, Wyrmkeep Entertainment

Released:  1993, 2005

PC Requirements:   1993 - DOS. 2005 - download.



Additional screenshots



by Becky


I’ve always known that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.  Now I know that you shouldn’t judge a game by the first half hour of gameplay.  Lesson learned by taking time in The Labyrinth of Time.

The Labyrinth of Time was originally released in 1993, and has been recently re-released with enhancements to the music and updates that allow the game to be played in the most recent versions of Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

Labyrinth’s graphics and interface instantly declare the game’s age.  The graphics in full screen are grainy, and the only way to sharpen them up is to play the game in a smaller screen -- about half the viewing area of the monitor.  Manually setting the display resolution at 640 x 480 does not improve the quality of the graphics.

As for the mouse driven interface, you can’t just click on directional arrows within the screen to move about the game world – you must click on directional arrows within the toolbar.  Alternatively, it is possible to play the game using the keyboard for navigation.  I experimented with the keyboard at first, but found it even more difficult than using the toolbar arrows.  The toolbar is also crowded with functions for taking, moving, opening/closing, and viewing things.  If you’ve seen the streamlined interfaces used in more recent games, this one seems downright clumsy.

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your (inter)Face

Strangely, though, as I got used to the interface, the game began to meander its way into my good graces.  This occurred partly because of the many beautiful places to explore, partly because the writing in the game is unusually funny, and partly because the overall gaming experience is different and memorable.

The Labyrinth of Time -- which is played from the first person perspective -- begins on a grey morning in a nameless city.  Your life consists of a dreary slog by subway to a boring job, then slogging back home to sleep.  Repeat.

Suddenly, a bit of color enters the monochromatic world.  A phantom from the past slips through the space/time continuum and pulls you into another dimension.  Your rescuer/task master is Daedalus, he who built the Labyrinth of the Minotaur and then escaped it on handcrafted wings.  Daedalus is once again a slave to King Minos, who is forcing him to design and build a new, fantastical labyrinth.   This labyrinth will allow Minos to simultaneously enter multiple points in human history with the idea of conquering the world.  There is only one way to stop Minos – destroy the labyrinth.  And there’s only one person that Daedalus has been able to reach who just might complete the job – YOU!

If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going

You'll Probably End Up Somewhere Else

You leave the subway and find yourself suddenly in a hotel, literally in the middle of nowhere.  These bizarre shifts occur frequently as the labyrinth intersects key moments in the future and the past.  The surreal becomes almost commonplace as you turn and twist your way through time. 

There are four mazes in Labyrinth, but the three largest are not traditional mazes.  That is, you can always refer to the map and see where you are in order to find your way out.  The function of these mazes is not to get you lost.  They are designed to disorient you – you become acclimated to one place, only to find yourself in the heart of someplace completely different.

London Bridge is Falling Down (It’s All My Fault)

The puzzles in Labyrinth are mostly inventory based.  Given the oddities of the locations you visit, the contents of the inventory are unusually eclectic.  Before long you’ll find yourself carrying (among other things) a glitzy alien belt, a loose screw, a carved falcon, a Colt .45, a labrys, a bicycle pump, and an assortment of keys.  These can be used on hotspots in the game, sometimes sensibly and sometimes not -- though even the nonsensical uses display a weird logic.

There are also a handful of mechanical puzzles.  Since the entire labyrinth is interconnected (sometimes in ways that are less than obvious), a lever pulled in one reality affects things in another time and place.  This means that the mechanical puzzles require a great deal of back-and-forthing as you strive to figure out what RE-action is the result of your action.  (There is a “virtual breadcrumb” feature to speed things up, but I was only able to get it to work part of the time.)

Most of the back-and-forthing is enjoyable, as the environs are colorful and compelling.  By the end of the game, however, while preparing to tighten the screws on Minos, you do traverse the funhouse mirror maze many, many, many times.  So many times that you may feel like breaking a few mirrors on your way (despite the requisite seven years bad luck – a mere eyeblink in the labyrinth).

There is very little voice acting in the game – virtually all communication, description and story-telling is in print.  Beautiful background music plays throughout in one long loop, with varied themes.  The quality and clarity of the music is much improved from the original version of the game, and is a nice addition to the overall experience.  There are also sound effects in the game, mostly related to opening, using or otherwise disturbing things.

Morgan the Magician Says You Should Figure it Out Yourself

You will have to do more than pull a few levers and collect inventory to defeat Minos.  You will have to wrap your mind around a bit of the history that has taken place in each location in order to understand what’s going on.  The game’s backstory is one of its greatest strengths, but with a caveat.  The history is contained in a journal, a few notes, and in some museum and library entries sequestered in Space Age archives in a place even Minos can’t invade.  With the way the game flows, most of the history is presented to the player well before she can understand how it fits the environments and the challenges of the game.  Therefore, I’d suggest reading everything the first time you stumble across it, and then, after you’ve been winding your way through the game for a few hours, go back and read everything again.  You’ll understand what is going on much better if you do this.

The museum and library entries themselves are often hilarious.  You get a pretty good idea of the wacky sensibility that has led to the creation of the otherworldly labyrinth and its timeless tale.  One reminder of the game’s age:  it seems strange, in a place of such high-tech wonders, that the story is presented entirely in text, with no videos or cutscenes to heighten the interest or to help identify relationships and locations.

Go on Till You Come to the End; Then Stop

There are fifteen save slots in Labyrinth.  This was exactly the number I needed.

I discovered three places in Labyrinth where you can hit a dead end.  Two of the dead ends occur early in the game, and give you immediate hints that you’ve made a big mistake.  The last dead end may send you back to a saved game to find an item that you missed earlier – annoying, though not disastrous.

The game was stable and ran without a single glitch.  You can play the game straight from the CD, or you can choose to install it and never have to touch the CD again.  I didn’t notice any difference in performance either way.

As mentioned earlier, there are keyboard commands that can be used instead of the mouse, or in combination with the mouse.  The most helpful key for me was the “F1” key, which toggles between full screen and partial screen so you can enjoy the benefits of both.  Also -- and you will only find this little trick in the original manual -- the “Tab” key can be used to cycle through all hotspots on the screen.  I found this to be handy because the cursor doesn’t change in any way when you place it over hotspots.  (I have it on very good authority that the original game was created in such a way as to be playable entirely with the keyboard.  Perhaps the mouse was not yet considered standard equipment.)

Should All Adventure Gamers Play The Labyrinth of Time?

I would suggest adding The Labyrinth of Time to your list of games to buy if you’ve played older adventure games and enjoyed them.  It can’t compete graphically with recent adventure releases, and the interface is anything but slick.  Still, there’s plenty of depth in it to enjoy, especially if you are the sort of gamer who likes to take your time and puzzle things out while roaming through surreal environments.  There’s no other game out there that’s quite like it.

Quick List for The Labyrinth of Time

A re-release of a 1993 classic adventure game.  A vast journey through time, full of unexpected twists and turns.  Graphics are various and lovely, though grainy.  Quirky, interesting story.  Good writing.  Voice acting is nonexistent except for one emergency recording.  Expect a fair amount of reading.  The interface is overly complicated, reflecting the age of the game.

The game features inventory puzzles and simple mechanical puzzles.  One sliding tile puzzle, one maze in which you can actually lose yourself.  No sound puzzles, unless you count the scream.

No glitches.  Mouse control, with the keyboard as an alternative if you don’t favor the mouse.  First person perspective.  Fifteen saved game slots.  You can save wherever you want.  You can’t die, though you can dead-end in three places.

You won’t find The Labyrinth of Time in stores.  You can purchase the game over the internet at

Aimed at gamers who are looking for a traditional adventure, but with an unusual “attitude.”

Final Grade:  B           


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