Timeless: The Forgotten Town
As we get older we begin to develop a nostalgia for the past, and sometimes that past is not our own but something further back in time. Some folks long for the return of the 50s, some want to travel back to Victorian times, and one massively popular novel series makes folks want to travel back to Scotland around the time of Culloden. Strange, really, because most of us when faced with the actual reality of those times would head for the nearest exit, especially once they sussed out the bathroom facilities...
Where was I going with this? Oh yes, if you want to travel back to a kinder, gentler time but don't want to deal with all of the hassles (uncomfortable clothes, the societal attitudes, etc.) then perhaps you should check out Boolat Games' latest adventure/hidden object hybrid Timeless: The Forgotten Town, which takes you back to the past without having to deal with the lack of personal hygiene and dodging horse poop in the streets.
Timeless: The Forgotten Town begins with you, the hero (or heroine) on a train heading for the next destination of your lovely European vacation. As the train passes through a tunnel something strange happens when a mysterious red-cloaked figure starts cackling maniacally in your general direction and the next thing you know your fellow passengers have disappeared and you are on a train to nowhere, all alone. Mind you, the train itself has transformed into the luxurious accommodations of a private car belonging to one of the filthy rich back in the Edwardian era, so at least you won't be uncomfortable. Pretty soon you'll (hopefully) manage to stop the train and disembark at the town that time forgot, inhabited by sad or angry ghosts and the aforementioned dude in red who has targeted you as the next victim of his nefarious scheme. Aided by the ghosts and the writings of at least one other traveler who unfortunately fell victim to the plot you must explore this lovely place and piece together the clues of what happened and stop the madness before you, too, succumb to a fate worse than death.
Basically, the game is a classic point-and-click adventure with an overlay of hidden object finding, so navigating your way around the train (and later, the town) is accomplished with a click of the mouse. Timeless: The Forgotten Town features the standard changing cursor option that reveals items you can pick up (a hand), places that can be examined (a magnifying glass), and of course, places where you can travel (an arrow). Your objective, if you choose to accept it, is to wander around, pick up and examine a lot of objects, solve some mini-games and puzzles, and defeat the evil red cape guy to free this poor town (and its ghost inhabitants) from his nefarious curse. Useful information found along the way goes into a handy journal and useful items go into a bottom-screen inventory to be used later. The game also features a nice refilling hint timer that can be used both within hidden object scenes and without.
Perhaps the thing most hybrid adventure players will appreciate is the fact that Timeless: The Forgotten Town has both a skippable tutorial and two modes of play: easy for those who are newer to the genre and advanced for those who disdain hand-holding. The easy mode features a plethora of hints featuring glints, sparkles, and cascades of colored light to highlight interesting areas, as well as a quickly refilling hint timer that also doubles as a skip feature for the mini-games. The advanced mode, on the other hand, disdains all but a tiny, minor glint of light to indicate areas of interest, including the hidden object scenes, along with a hint timer that refills very slowly and a "too many clicks" penalty that last a lot longer than in the easy mode. The beginning tutorial is skippable as well once you've found your journal and hint timer. The different gameplay modes and the skippable (or not) tutorial make this a game that a wide spectrum of players can enjoy, from the amateur to the hardcore adventurer.
Analysis: Yes, yet another adventure/hidden object hybrid, and a Collector's Edition to boot. Just because the market is glutted right now with a lot of knock-offs and copycats doesn't mean that you shouldn't give a really well-designed game like Timeless: The Forgotten Town a try. In fact, you should definitely give it a whirl as it is decidedly worth the effort both in terms of visual beauty and fantastic gameplay, especially the mini-games and puzzles, which are a mix of the comfortably familiar (gear puzzles, etc.) and the wickedly original (the cunning slot machine/mini-adventure game).
The backgrounds of both the train and the town that time forgot are stunning hand-painted masterpieces that fit the time (1907) and the place (a quaint town somewhere in Europe, perhaps Germany or Switzerland, judging by the scenery). Despite the ghosts and the evil red guy the musical accompaniment is not full of blaring horns or spooky riffs, but rather light and pastoral airs that match the atmosphere of this adorable little town. Spookiness is added by the advancing storyline and the quiet yet effective incidental sounds: bird song, creaking wood, rustling leaves, that serve to emphasize the point that not only has time passed this place by but it is deserted of all human life save yours.
If there is a downside to Timeless: The Forgotten Town it is that gameplay is rather short, especially if you play in easy mode. And as is common in many Collector's Editions you don't get a satisfying ending or a complete story unless you play the "extra" adventure, which at least adds another hour to the playing time. These "extra" adventure sections should not feel like they were amputated from the end of the story, leaving those who buy the regular edition to feel cheated out of a "proper" ending. However, you still do get an ending in the regular gameplay, even it it does feel a bit rushed and doesn't answer many outstanding questions.
In this case, it is definitely worth the extra few bucks to purchase the Collector's Edition for the extra gameplay, which not only rounds out the story but adds a considerable amount of playing time to this time-traveling adventure. Gorgeous, entertaining, and fit for both the noob and the advanced adventure gamer, Timeless: The Forgotten Town is a feast of astounding visuals and amusing gameplay. Do not, however, expect an exciting roller-coaster ride of adventure in game form. Instead, enjoy a quiet and meditative stroll down avenues of the past, probably a lot more entertaining than actually being there.
A Collector's Edition is also available. It includes wallpapers, concept art, the music soundtrack, a hefty extra adventure, and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.