What Makes You Tick:
A Stitch in Time takes the gamer to the quaint seaside village of
Ravenhollow. Nigel Trelawney has just learned of his father's death and
arrives in Ravenhollow to settle the estate. He finds himself bound up in
a strange way with his father's former employer, the Smith Institute for
Advanced Research. The research facility has been shuttered and the
Institute's fantastical discoveries and creations dismantled. Is Nigel's
father's death related to the abandoned Institute, or to the local Baron's
new laws that are crushing the townspeople?
Dark Secrets, No Monkeys
A Stitch in Time is an Independent production
employing a third person perspective in a style influenced by the classic
LucasArts adventure games. Graphics are hand drawn and pleasantly quirky.
The village is populated with many characters to talk to and hotspots with
which to interact. Conundrums are mostly inventory based. The
point-and-click interface is reminiscent of that used in Curse of
Monkey Island, with a pop-up medallion containing icons that allow you
to "look at/talk to/use" characters and items.
Unlike Curse of Monkey Island, though, which
celebrates (wallows in?) absurdities and charming idiocies, A Stitch in
Time has a somber tone. Nigel is in mourning, both for his father's
death and for his father's decades-long abandonment of the family. The
people of Ravenhollow are terrified by the cruel laws adopted by their
Baron and his new allies. The townsfolk are being stripped of their
livelihoods and (in some cases) their sanity. Visitors are trapped in the
town with no apparent way out.
A Stitch in Time, which can be purchased via
download from the
Lassie Games website, is the sequel to the original What Makes You
Tick? -- a freeware adventure game that can be
downloaded here. Though it introduces a new protagonist, the story in
this second game also follows the adventures of several characters from
the original freeware game. These characters appear briefly at the
beginning of A Stitch in Time, and then become more prominent later
in the game.
The story and environments in A Stitch in Time
are two of its strengths. Locations are crammed with detail and contain
frequent ambient animations. The palette is subdued, with occasional
dollops of intense color -- mostly in the characters' clothing. The
nighttime landscapes feature a starry sky and a huge glowing moon. The
background music is orchestral, varied and lovely, ranging from
contemplative to ominous.
The story starts slowly, but creates a sense of
mystery that builds toward multiple revelations. The story and the setting
work together to create an engaging mixture of fairy tale/fantasy and
Reading into Things
Though clearly a labor of love, A Stitch in Time
contains some of the issues/compromises often found in Indie titles.
The characters aren't voiced, for instance, and character animation is
The interface requires three types of comments (look
at/talk to/use) for each hotspot. Each scene contains many hotspots, and
the gameworld is fairly large. When, in addition to lengthy dialogs,
hundreds of hotspot responses also require reading, the descriptions
should be unusually compelling. Many of these aren't.
On the one hand, you'll see evocative observations,
such as: "The angry sea and the salty air have taken their toll on this
lighthouse. You can see and smell the rust." Or "Looking at melting
candles always makes me emotional. Life is but a fleeting shadow." But too
often you'll encounter comments that contribute nothing to character,
puzzle comprehension or story: "I really like ivy," or " Cool bandana," or
"It's a treehouse castle. With cardboard towers and all."
Fortunately, dialogs and descriptions can be clicked
through so you can proceed as fast as you can read. Once you've read a
dialog, if you talk to that character once more, the word "again" appears
before questions you've already asked -- indicating that you won't get a
new response. This is helpful, since there is so much dialog that it's
easy to forget what you've already discussed. I wish the game had, from
the start, indicated which dialogs were essential and nonessential,
removing the need (unless the topic interests you) to read through all
Combined, Not Stirred
Most of the puzzles in this game are inventory based,
including creative item combinations -- some requiring numerous steps.
Items are used to manipulate mechanical devices, people and other
creatures. On rare occasions, you must respond while a character is
distracted, resulting in a challenge that is mildly timed.
Switching between day and night, and going back and
forth between locations, is essential to accomplish certain tasks. Often
it isn't clear what to do next except to wander about, searching for a
missed hotspot or a character who has something new to say. Some scenes
scroll -- make sure that Nigel walks to the edge (I missed an item until I
figured this out).
A Stitch in Time contains an arcade-like
fishing game. The necessary underwater items are not difficult to
retrieve. Also, there's an option to earn money fishing if you are fast
enough (I didn't even come close to winning money, but as far as I could
tell, this made no difference in the outcome of the game).
Good and Bad Housekeeping
The game contains an interactive map that cuts down
on some (though not all) of the required back-and-forthing. Nigel's
walking pace is fairly rapid. Double-clicking on a directional arrow also
zips Nigel to the next screen.
Adobe AIR is required to play the game. I always hold
my breath when updating Direct X or Adobe, but installing AIR had no
negative effects on my computer.
Two interface oddities: releasing inventory items --
usually accomplished by right-clicking -- is accomplished here by
double-clicking. Also, the "Esc" key doesn't bring up the game menu.
Instead it puts the game into a window. On my widescreen monitor, this
sometimes made it impossible to access the main menu or inventory.
A Stitch in Time contains a mere ten save game
slots, too few for this complex, lengthy game.
Quick List for What Makes You Tick: A Stitch in
A game from a new, promising developer with a talent
for creating interlinked, multiple mysteries. Hand drawn graphics are
reminiscent of the classic LucasArts adventures. A quaint (though somewhat
serious) atmosphere. Lots of dialog and description. No voiceovers. All
text can be clicked through but, even so, a lot of reading is required.
Third person perspective, point-and-click interface.
A helpful interactive map for navigation.
Mostly inventory puzzles; many involve numerous
combinations or steps. Several challenges were difficult -- for example,
the mask puzzle and figuring out what to do with the globe. A couple of
mildly timed puzzles. No mazes, no color or sound based puzzles, no
sliding tile puzzles. You can't die.
The game is appropriate for all ages, though the
story is too sophisticated for young children. Ten save game slots. About
fifteen hours of gameplay.
No problems with installation and no glitches. Adobe
AIR must be installed before the game will run.
Aimed at fans of the classic LucasArts adventures and
anyone who craves a good story.
Final Grade: B
What I played it on:
Dell Studio XPS 8000
Windows 7 Home Premium
Intel Core i5-750 processor
6GB DDR3 SDRAM
1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220
For more information
about What Makes you Tick: A Stitch in Time, visit the
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