A race against boredom

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 February, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 February, 1994, 12:00am

Lost in Time For IBM compatibles PATIENCE - lots of it. That's what you need to play this new game from Coktel Vision.

The idea is to race across time to outwit a murderous fiend who plots to kill your ancestors and hence make you non-existent.

You play Doralice, a character imported from Coktel's earlier game Fascination. In the first scene you wake up with a throbbing headache in the hold of a Spanish galleon in 1840.

You explore the galleon and its secret compartments, and discover prisoners, who kindly fill you in on what's happened.

As the pieces fall into place, you are transported to the gates of a mansion you have inherited. From there you go to the year 2092 where you meet the ingenious thief who is out to shut you up.

You not only have to stay out of his clutches, but also have to find a way to defeat him to bring yourself back to the present.

In keeping with Coktel's usual style (re: Gobliiins and Gobliins 2 ) all you have to do is to point and click. And, in keeping with the Goblins series, it is extremely difficult to figure out what to use on what and in what situations.

Unlike games such as Simon the Sorcerer , where you can talk to other characters or pick things up and put them down, you're restricted to using items on each other and other interactive objects at your current location.

This makes for rather dull, tedious play, especially when you have lots of items in your inventory and have to try them in all possible combinations.

The game's digitised graphics are good, as are its digitised sounds, but it seems strange for Coktel to use these with cartoon-style graphics. For instance, the galleon is in colour animation but the prisoners are presented in video sequences; that is, they move like characters in a video or a movie.

The problem is even more noticeable at the manor. There you are confronted with digitised sequences of a horse grazing at the gate and video sequences of the manor grounds and other buildings, but all the items you have in your inventory bag are low-residence drawings, and this spoils the effect.

The game is played from a first-person perspective and there are no interactive characters other than Doralice, meaning that unlike Gobliins 2 you can not switch characters to get a new perspective.

Some of the problems are illogical and you really need to have your wits about you to solve them - or you can use one of the three jokers, if they are available where you are! For instance, to get into the manor you have to make the key drop under the floor and then get something to drag it out . . . but what? Everything you have is much too short to reach the darn key! Lost in Time presents a fascinating story of time travel and is a reasonable enough adventure. But the complicated, and often illogical puzzles and weak controls make it impossible to really get a kick out of the game.

Even if you did not give up within the first two hours, it would take you a long time to reach the end of the game and you would probably end up asking yourself if it was worth giving up 17 Mb of hard disk space to it.

MEGAHINT: To get the key through the space under the door, you need a magnet. You can get that by having a strip of metal, some wire and some electric power, so check your inventory.

MEGAHINT: The padlock at the manor gate is rusted tight. Maybe a little acid would do the trick. But remember, you need something to apply the acid with.

MEGAHINT: Doors of lighthouses that haven't been used in a long time can be stuck fast. Perhaps a rubber hose and the elevator in the vault can help you pull it open.

MEGAHINT: In the galleon, the bar of soap in the hidden cupboard can help you open a secret compartment to release a prisoner. But first you have to cut it into shavings.