The Origin of Madame Time

cover (2)

Spoilers ahoy. I recommend you play this game before you read this review.

I was looking forward to playing this. I am a big fan of Mathbrushs’ games. The blurb states that this is a sequel to The Owl Consults, a game that won 6th place entry in last years IFcomp – given that I haven’t played it, I was tempted to go back and play it first – but – 77 games in this years comp! I am hoping that OoMT stands up on its own as a playing experience.

And it does. Origin is a relatively short puzzly parser game. I played it through in about an hour, but, full disclosure – I had to go thru the walkthrough once, and I did make use of the FORE command quite extensively.

The basic premise is that, as Justine Thyme, during a visit to the Fair, a battle between super heroes and super villains kicks off – ending up with the explosion of Rex Dashing’s airship above the fair – threatening to rain down fire and destruction on everyone. But suddenly your nascent superpowers kick in, enabling you to stop time and save everyone – both hero and villain.

The whole game takes place in a frozen moment of time, and the light puzzles that enable you to save everyone are the whole of the game.

In addition to the ability to stop time, you can also see briefly into the future, and the past, using the FORE and AFTER commands. A nice addition by the author: it acts as a clever fully integrated hint system that doesn’t take you out of the moment, or the game. I liked this very much – it’s a nice way of giving helping information to the player. I used it alot!

Let’s talk about where I got stuck.

Big spoiler coming (I will try and obfuscate). So I went to the walkthru for the endgame. I was doing the correct thing – with the correct person in the correct location, but it turned out I had to be holding the person before undertaking the action. I spun around this for quite a while – It makes sense when I think about it after the fact but I wish I had been more strongly prodded by the text.

But this is a minor nitpick in a strongly implemented, well written and funny game.  Other aspects  I really enjoyed were the concise bio’s of the NPC’s in the notebook, the post ending text was very funny, and the light and humorous prose.

My one caveat is that the game, as it is, might just be a little too slight – it feels like this could have been expanded significantly – both the depth of the narrative and the extent of the gameplay. I guess it’s a compliment – I would have liked to have spent more time in this World. 8/10.


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