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SummaryThe Most Bizarre FPS Ever Created
The GoodIndeed, it is a rather random title to bestow upon a forgotten eleven year old game. What about this stupid old game can warrant that title, you might ask? Well, here’s my attempt to prove it to you.
Welcome to the Lonesome Killing Time Review.
The game’s plot is actually quite a solid noir horror plot: rich eccentric woman brings back ancient artifacts from Egypt to her mansion, rich eccentric woman plays with black magic and summons evil, rich eccentric woman throws party, rich eccentric woman’s guests and herself completely disappear without a trace, protagonist is sent to rich eccentric woman’s mansion to solve the mystery six decades afterwards. Sound good to you? It does to me. Not far off from early Lovecraft.
And that my friends, is where logic and reason end with this game.
The events that unfold after the initial cutscenes are so unbelievably WEIRD, that I’m unsure how well I can relate said events to you. The enemies are among the most hilarious, insane, abnormal enemies I’ve experienced in a game to this day. There are zombie bootleggers (this is during Prohibition, mind you), killer clowns, venomous beetles, nude maids with gargoyle wings, venomous beetles, floating fire-breathed skulls the size of small cars, venomous beetles, two-headed hellhounds, venomous beetles, good old reliable skeleton warriors, a gaseous green clouds that make evil faces at you in the dark, (see Episode 47 of Star Trek), and many, many more. Also included in this are loads of challenging yet wacky puzzles, find-the-key quests, dungeon crawling, corridor stalking, conversations with ghosts, and so on. The weapons early in the game are pretty standard fare (pistol, shotgun, etc), but get increasingly more strange as the game progresses (such as “Winged Vessels”, each of which contains a different random power).
All of this insanity aside, ‘Killing Time’ boasts a few characteristics that make it stand out from the mid-‘90s crowd. For one, it is surprisingly non-linear for the time it was released, when painfully linear ‘Doom’ and ‘Quake’ were the order of the day. The player wasn’t necessarily always required to do the “quests” in a strict order, and you can freely backtrack if needed. Second, the enemy AI is paltry by today’s standards, but for 1995 was pretty decent in that enemies would sometimes actually run away and hide when they were overwhelmed. It may not sound like much, but back then that was virtually revolutionary. Also, unlike just about every other FPS at the time, this game actually had a plot, something reserved only for adventures and RPGs in those days.
Probably the foremost aspect for me personally is that this is the first game I recall actually scaring me, and making me feel a sense of dread I’d not felt since first playing Eye of the Beholder. I lost count of how many times I jumped in my chair and spit took whatever I was drinking. Unlike most, I just didn’t get a similar sensation from Doom.
The BadDespite the praise I’ve showered upon this game, there are some blemishes which probably kept it from flying off the shelves.
The difficulty of this game was, well…difficult. There are quite a few areas of the game where enemies are thrown at the player Serious Sam-style, and ammo/health isn’t as plentiful as it should be in those cases.
The puzzles, while engaging and wacky, can border on illogical at times, a few of which rival Hexen for difficulty. Also, the clues in the game aren’t the most helpful of clues, and oftentimes the player may be completely stumped as to where to travel next. It took me several weeks to complete the game on the first attempt because I simply didn’t know where to go.
Speaking of which, this game requires a lot of traveling, so be prepared for a lot backpedaling...and you should probably keep a notepad handy so you don’t forget the location of some key you’ll need.
The Bottom LineKilling Time is a game from a bygone era – an era when it was ok for action games to be playful and essentially ridiculous all while maintaining an air of dignity about it, as opposed to modern times when every game in the genre has to have a deathly serious plot with a lesson at the end.
Doom too linear? Hexen not exciting enough? No One Lives Forever not evil enough? Clive Barker’s Undying too bleak? Have you ever in a moment of feverish insanity wondered what it would be like to fuse all four of these games together? Look no further, reader. If you would like a unique FPS gaming experience, hunt Killing Time down on eBay and make those gargoyle maids wish they had never been born!