Game-related ramblings.

Scratching That Itch: Time Stone

This is the first entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1704 1741 games and game-related things included in the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle just finished, raising $8,175,279.81 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions, or in this case, exactly the same size versions.

OK, here we go. With the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality just wrapped up, I — and many others — are now staring at a whopping 1704 1741 games and game-related things. Lists and recommendations are popping up everywhere, but looking through the bundle I was intrigued by just how many of the lesser-known entries seemed interesting. So I’ve decided to start selecting things from the bundle at random, trying them out, and writing short posts about them here.

First up is Time Stone, by Scared Square Games, aka Stuart Lilford. Its tagline in the Bundle reads:

Uncover the Professor’s secret and rescue him from the evil clutches of the…

before being cruelly truncated by the character limit. A quick glance at the game page suggests this is referring to the evil clutches of the Warlock. It’s always bad news when a warlock is so evil they are referred to solely as “the Warlock”. But I guess this Professor isn’t going to rescue himself. All right, Scared Square Games, I’m in.

As I suspected from the pixel art image accompanying its entry in the Bundle, Time Stone is a point and click adventure game. It’s made with Adventure Game Studio, a game making tool designed to emulate classic adventure games, with a decidedly retro aesthetic. Which is appropriate, since Scared Square Games cite classics like Day of the Tentacle and Simon the Sorcerer as inspirations. While I’ve written a little about adventure games on this blog, I’m hardly a connoisseur, and have actually never played either of these classics. I know, I know, I’ll get to them eventually. I have, however, played a lot of games made with Adventure Game Studio, mostly small freeware offerings from the 2000s. In addition to powering some of the best loved adventure games of recent years, including Unavowed and the rest of the Wadget Eye Games catalog, Adventure Game Studio is commonly used to make smaller games of all sorts. Time Stone is one of them. In fact, it was awarded the Adventure Game Studio award for Best Short Game of 2013!

Players assume the role of Elle, a young Wizard’s apprentice, who shows up for her potions lesson only to find her mentor, the Professor, in some serious trouble. It’s up to Elle to save him, using her wits and whatever she can scrounge from the Professor’s house. This isn’t how she was expecting her day to go, but she faces her circumstances with an admirable sense of humor. True to its inspirations, Time Stone manages to be quite funny over its short running time. It’s not voiced, but the text that appears when characters speak does so with a great sense of comedic timing, and Elle’s facial expressions are perfect too. I enjoyed the lighthearted banter, tales from the Unheard University of Wizardry, and Elle’s salient observations about her surroundings.

Time Stone is a small game, with only one location and a few puzzles to solve. But I was impressed with the detail that’s included within. A lot of backstory and details about the world can be found by carefully examining things, and uncovering little humorous tidbits this way is fun. There are several red herrings, possible solutions to Elle’s predicament that were acknowledged with a wink when I attempted them, before I was gently nudged in a different direction. The puzzles felt nicely judged in difficulty, never glaringly obvious but never too obscure that I couldn’t arrive at them after stopping to think for a bit. There are also some built-in hints, if players try too many incorrect things. I found myself doing wrong things on purpose just to see more funny dialogue, but these hints will be welcome to anyone who is having trouble figuring out how to proceed.

There’s not much else to say. Time Stone is short and sweet. It features original music by Mark Lovegrove. It’s funny, which honestly is a rarity in games. The ending is great. And it’s free! Although you can choose to pay some money for it if you want to. There are a few spelling and grammar mistakes, but it would be churlish to complain about such things when everything else is so nice, and offered gratis. If you like adventure games, Time Stone offers you a tasty, funny morsel for whatever you wish to pay, even if that’s nothing. Go play it.

OK, that’s one down, 1703 1740 to go!

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1 Comment

  1. Simo Vihinen

    Thanks for telling me which games to play from this megapak! Please become my human games filter.

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