Written by  :  Jeanne (76599)
Written on  :  May 19, 2002
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

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I felt like Alice in science fiction Wonderland

The Good

Chronomaster is a point-and-click adventure game which tries to mix science fiction with fairy tales. The result has all the weirdness of an “Outer Limits” episode.

Six unique planetary systems make up the “pocket” universes, all frozen in time “stasis” by an unknown perpetrator. Some of the planets are truly bizarre while others are more realistic. There are a myriad of characters including unicorns, plants that talk, pigs that fly, witches, sprites, belly dancers, soldiers, gamblers and more.

The game appears to be aimed at the science fiction audience, and it starts out that way (on a space ship with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos at your disposal), but it turns out to be more whimsical fantasy than the purist sci-fi fan might like. Although set in the future, the planetary worlds you visit were created with altered physics, making magic possible. This lends itself to creative imagination, often to the extreme.

Your quest is to restore each world to normality, such that it is, by locating its “world key” and positioning it on the planet’s “magnetic north” with the aid of a “resonance tracer”. Nothing can be transferred between the worlds and your adventure is confined to that location once you land upon it. You are able to move about freely, even though everything else is still, because of the “bottled time” you carry with you and surrounds you as you explore. Walking too closely to a frozen person or object can release it, sometimes causing unexpected results, so you need to be on your toes all the time.

With a little practice, I was comfortable with the interface after only a few minutes. Action icons for look, talk, open, take, use etc. appear on the menu bar at the top of the screen, but also can be accessed by a right mouse click. A right click also lets you scroll through your object inventory, which can become quite large as you progress.

The locations are richly detailed and visually interesting and there are various types of puzzles to solve, some on the hard side. You’ll find numerous conversation-based puzzles (i.e., help him and he’ll help you), one of the most annoying mazes I’ve ever seen, plus other traditional puzzle types. Some of the puzzles can be considered really imaginative, while others are just obstacles in your path.

The game has several possible endings depending upon actions you have (or have not) taken. In most instances you can choose to act aggressively or peacefully to solve the same situation, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Many times you will die because you chose the wrong conversation option.

The Bad

Besides the obnoxious maze, there are a few other things I didn’t like about Chronomaster.

Although graphical atmosphere is really good and interesting, the characters themselves are stiff and unlifelike. Korda’s purple suit and jerky, puppet-like movements didn’t endear me to him in the least. And he walked so painfully slow sometimes that I wished I could figure out a way to make him run! There is quite a lot of dialog to read and listen to, but it was written badly with improper grammar and spoken badly without emotion or appropriate inflections. I agree with another reviewer who said that the voice of Ron Perlman made the main character sound “as though he would rather be somewhere else.”

I honestly didn’t mind dying (and I did, often!) but wished I could have been warned. I learned to save..save..save.

The Bottom Line

As adventure games go, this one is only fair. The alternative puzzle solutions and varied endings were not enough to make me want to replay it. Blending futuristic technology with fairy tales made the gaming experience strange. Some parts were wonderfully done, while others were so abstract that I almost threw it in the trash. It is not the worst game I’ve ever played – but it comes close.