Adventure games. Apparently they’re coming back into favour in the mainstream (ish) market, what with LucasArts releasing it’s back catalogue (at least in part) on Steam this week and a remake of Monkey Island inbound from Telltale Games. In the darker corners of the internet, however, you’ll find that adventure games never died; and that people have been creating little gems of pc gaming. People like Zombie Cow Studios, who have been working fervently to make top notch stories for the likes of us, in the form of the free and brilliantly named Ben There, Dan That and their new release; the £2.99 sequel Time Gentlemen, Please which is the focus of this review. Hence the title.
Now, for the amount of times I bang on about adventure games (admittedly mostly in the form of Grim Fandango), I’m still willing to admit that I am fairly terrible at them. I’ll love every moment I’m playing them, but by god I’ll often not find a blindingly obvious solution until I’ve rubbed every item in my inventory against the offending obstacle but one. Even in Grim Fandango, which had some inspired puzzles that even I got, I sometimes got stuck at a point which I would later look back at and wonder if my brain was actually present for that section of my life. I’m (somewhat oddly) very pleased to say that Time Gentlemen, Please is no different in this respect – I managed to get stuck for a couple of days on what would later turn out to be the most logical puzzle I can now think of present in the game, and I’m also pleased to say I enjoyed every moment of it.
The puzzles in TGP are almost uniformly a joy to solve, harking back to the days in Grim Fandango where I would sit back from the computer having solved a problem and just laugh at what I had just done. And even Grim didn’t have me laughing at murmuring “I did what with the hand covered with bloody stool?”. There are the traditional combine x with y puzzles, time travel puzzles, text adventure puzzles, adventure game within an adventure game puzzles, and pretty much everything you could expect from an adventure game. While some puzzles are slightly convoluted, all of them are worthy of being included – if the puzzles seem like padding, that’s because they’ve been designed to be padding, and the game characters even joke about it.
It seems nowadays that adventure games are hardly adventure games without humour. I guess the classic era of Tim Schafer/Dave Grossman writing at LucasArts has something to do with that, but whatever the reason TGP carries on the tradition with great relish. It might not be quite as… ‘refined’… comedy as found in the classic LucasArts games (to say that the options menu has a ‘Racism’ slider might give an indication of what you’re in store for), but it’s always well constructed and very rarely fell flat or missed its mark. It’s also extremely self referential in a way that I found extremely amusing.
So, Time Gentlemen, Please has actually funny comedy, needlessly intricate and ingenious puzzles, and a plot featuring both Nazis and dinosaurs – surely such a game is exempt from any criticism one might place upon it? Well, I can’t really say because I honestly can’t think of any real criticism to aim at it. The graphics are perfect for the style Zombie Cow Studios were going for, and to be honest you can’t really criticise an adventure game for poor graphics anyway, the functionality of the interface is largely flawless (although I did find myself becoming slightly annoyed with the inventory disappearing when I moved my mouse too far from it), and the game has a almost perfect ending. The verdict? Buy It. Or at least Try The Demo.