Developer & Publisher:    GTE Entertainment

Released:   1996

PC Requirements:    486DX2/66 or faster, 8MB RAM (16 recommended), 2xCD-ROM or faster, Win 3.1 (Win 95 recommended), SVGA video card (local bus recommended), 16bit 100% sound-blaster compatible video card, keyboard and mouse.





by Becky

Timelapse is an older game, reminiscent of the original "Myst." It was published in 1996, back in a golden era when gaming companies thought they could make a profit by giving the gamer dozens of hours of gameplay.  The game is huge, with knock-your-socks-off  graphics and lots of attention to detail. There are more puzzles in it than in "Myst," but in general I would not consider it to be a harder game, probably about equal in difficulty.  Timelapse has stood the test of time, and (except for its now trite back-story and lack of a 360-degree panning feature) feels quite up-to-date.

You receive a phone message as the game opens. Your anti-establishment (crazy) archaeologist buddy begs you to come to Easter Island. He has found a "missing link" between ancient civilizations. In the long, unbroken tradition of mad adventure game scientists, he plans to step through a time portal (investigate a hitherto unknown world, etc.) and wants you to be his back-up in case something goes wrong.  Of course, your buddy disappears and you have to try to rescue him.

There are a variety of puzzles in Timelapse, but the most intriguing tend be the puzzles that deal with glyphs. You find various mysterious symbols and then figure out how to organize and plug them into some other part of the game.  There is one extraordinarily difficult sliding tile puzzle, which can become a real show-stopper.  There is also a puzzle where you shoot an arrow over a canyon (it can take an embarrassing amount of effort to do this correctly).  Add to the mix a couple of sound puzzles and some reasonably easy mechanical puzzles. There is also one place where you have to reassemble a skeleton – a challenge that sometimes gives gamers trouble. (Hmm...Maybe this game IS harder than Myst.)  There are no traditional mazes although it is possible to get lost at first in these large environments

In addition to its wealth of puzzles, Timelapse is distinguished by its fascinating historical worlds -- Mayan, Anasazi, Egyptian -- each caught in a moment out of time. Everything in these worlds has a new, pristine quality about it. The Egyptian temple paintings, for instance, look as fresh as if they'd been painted yesterday. All the interiors are perfect -- not a faded pigment, chipped gold leaf, mark, worn spot or smudge anywhere.

Although each time period is gorgeous, the most fantastic, IMHO, is the Mayan world. Here you puzzle your way from white, sandy beaches -- through temples full of multi-hued artifacts -- to the stepped pyramids half hidden by lush rain forest. This game also has the most beautiful, exotically colorful and detailed caverns and underground spaces of any game I've played.

Such picture-perfect worlds are not without dangers. There is a dark aspect lurking beneath the game's pretty exterior. For example, in one location a mummy case contains an extremely nasty (ratty) surprise. And you are occasionally harassed by a strange, shadowy humanoid that spits angry threats (you meet him for real in the end game).
The crazy archaeologist buddy has kept a journal that contains clues and descriptions of what he encounters in the various worlds. If you like to read journals in games, you will enjoy this one very much.

There are also voices that echo through your travels. They give hints while breaking your concentration and immersion. (The voice acting in this game is NOT its strong point.) If you favor the spooky/mystical school of acting, then you will be impressed. The music is eerie and fits the mood of the game very well.

The game can be played entirely with the mouse. However, I found the keyboard easier to use because a directional icon appears when you use the keyboard, indicating at all times what directions you can take.  The game was quite stable.

If you make it through the sliding tile puzzle (and the rest of the historical worlds), you get to go to Atlantis. Timelapse’s version of Atlantis is quite unlike any other portrayal of the mythic city. There is intricate etched glass everywhere. Shiny, reflective, patterned floors add an ethereal quality (it would take magic or an advanced alien technology just to keep the floors unscuffed). There are Art Nouveau glass sculptures and wall paintings, plus historical motifs from Egypt, etc. Everything is enclosed by a huge glass dome, with broken-down columns and other structures on the sea floor outside. Crystalline New Age music plays in the background. The whole thing is incredibly effective.

Sometimes (like when I'm trying to draw up my top fifteen list), I think about gameworlds, and whether any of these worlds are large, elaborate, complex and beautiful enough to tempt me to take up permanent residence. Timelapse makes the very short list of gameworlds that I think I could actually live in, though I would probably scuff the floors and mark up the walls a bit to make it seem more homelike.

Final Grade:  4 BAAGS out of 5

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