Moments Out of Time is the well-deserved second place winner in the 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. Although not an “original” game, Moments Out of Time has all the elements that make “traditional” Infocom-style games classics to this day: a vast, unfamiliar gameworld, fun puzzles, numerous items, rounded off with excellent writing and tons of numerous little details that make exploration a sheer joy. |
The premise of Moments Out of Time is somewhat clich้, but a well-defined one: you are a historian from the future who is tasked with travelling back in time to gather as much information as possible. Naturally, you must be careful not to tamper with the past or interfere in the course of history. One feature that I like most about the game is the cool “chip rack” interface. Similar to Circuit’s Edge and The Journeyman Project, you can select up to 5 hi-tech chips from 10 available to take on your mission to the past. Each chip has unique functions such as SCAN and DECRYPT, all of which are a lot of fun to use although very few of them are absolutely necessary to completing the game (you are told from the start which ones you really need). This makes the game highly replayable: you can take different chips with you in each session to see what they do, and how they affect the game. Most of the time they provide alternate solutions to puzzles, or additional information (especially the LIBRARY chip) that provides more detail on the story. Some of these chips’ functions are unclear at first, but reading the on-line SteamDiver manual should be enough to get you started.
The amount of detail and care that went into Moments Out of Time alone makes it a must-play for IF fans everywhere, although the game confuses me a bit by using Infocom’s *.z6 format (last seen in Shogun, Arthur, and Journey) although it has no graphics. The author does put the *.z6 extension to good use, though: there is a very helpful “menu bar” along the bottom of the screen that contains basic verbs and commands. You can customize this menu to your heart’s content by adding verbs and items to create custom menus, and it’s a good way to access the chips’ functions. The game also features sound effects via Blorb module (works fine in WinFrotz for me), although they aren’t necessary to enjoy the game.
With excellent writing, innumerable details, optional puzzles and alternate solutions, and a very high replayability, Moments Out of Time is simply a must-play for everyone who enjoys interactive fiction – especially huge, open-ended games that focus on exploration in the grand tradition of Zork. Two thumbs up, way up!
Note: WinFrotz users need to read in-game help for how to make the menu bar show up correctly.Reviewed by: Underdogs