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Trapped in Time

by Simon Christiansen profile

Science Fiction

Web Site

(based on 24 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

A Science Fiction adventure where YOU are the hero!

Game Details


11th Place - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)

Nominee, Best Novella - 2013 Niels Klim Awards

Winner, Best Implementation; Nominee, Best Use of Innovation - 2013 XYZZY Awards


For people who read Danish, Trapped in Time has been published in an anthology of Danish science fiction stories, available at http://www.sciencefiction.dk/udgivelser/boger/naer-og-fjern.html.

This was actually out about two weeks before the IFComp. The organizers approved it because it was unlikely that any of the judges would have heard about it.
Reported by Simon Christiansen (updated on December 27, 2013) | History | Edit | Delete
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Pleasantly surprising (5 Stars), November 12, 2013
by Mrs. Info-adventurer (The world)
Related reviews: If Comp 2013

I have to say, this game surprised me.

When I began to play Trapped in Time, my first thought was, "What is this? This isn't interactive fiction!" The game, in itself, looks more like a stylized Choose Your Own Adventure book than a text adventure game. Once I got into the swing of things, I realized how well this format works for this game (specifically), especially compared to some other formats. (Spoiler - click to show) What I'm trying to say is that the way that the game is formatted contributes to the game as much as the characters and items combined. The thing that I liked most about the format was how it was implemented. (Spoiler - click to show) For example, when I discovered that I was sub-consciencally time traveling or how, when you re-start the game, you realize that you haven't escaped your fate.

The way you play the game is simple. It's a lot like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, only not everything is immediately revealed to you. As you gain knowledge and items, you acquire the ability to add certain numbers to use a new action. This presents a small problem, because if you add incorrectly (as I once did), you end up reading ahead a little bit. Not to worry, there's a walkthrough on the last two pages in case you need to re-check your math skills. I also liked how, unlike a Choose Your Own Adventure book, I didn't need to write down page numbers (or doggy ear pages :P) to help me remember that there's another branch of the story that I left unexplored. I was able to return to the main path quickly and easily; for, when I seemed to stray a bit, the game reminded me which page number I needed to return to in order to go back. I completed Trapped in Time in one glorious, one and a half hour sitting.

On a side note, I rather enjoyed the author's writing style. If his style was a little different, the game would have felt more like a CYOA book and less like an IF game. The only issue that I have concerns the _________ (your name here) that appears three times throughout the story. I think that the author should remove it and give the main character a name, as it disrupts the natural flow of reading.

All in all, I loved this game. It's a little unique, well written, and I highly recommend that you play it. It also gives me hope, because if I write in this format, I may finally be able to write interactive fiction... Sort of... e-o (I can't program to save my life) Thank you Simon for the awesome game; I hope that everyone will play it.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting printed game with parser-like elements, February 3, 2016

Trapped in Time is a classic "Turn to page 20"-style CYOA work. You are a Chrononaut experimenting with a time machine. Things start to go wrong. The game invites many replays, being a 'replay'-style game where you just try to get it write.

The real innovation here is something that is beyond Twine's basic capabilities (although it could be implemented if someone worked hard at it). The game starts giving you mathematical formulas so that you can use a limited set of commands (something like, "To examine a room, add 50 to the first page that you enter the room in.") this makes the game both fun and challenging, because you can't easily reverse engineer the game, and you have to keep track of all the formulas.

The game includes a variety of bonus material and is fun. The story is not quite as exciting as most good Twine games, but the novelty of the presentation really made this game enjoyable for me.

Recommended due to fun factor.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
No computer required for this time travel game that looks forward and back., November 12, 2021
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: science fiction, IFComp 2013

(This review originally appeared as a blog post of mine during IFComp 2013.)

Trapped in Time is a fun and novel CYOA game which operates not on a computer but on paper, either real paper if you print out the PDF file which comprises the game or on the virtual pages of the PDF itself. It is divided up into numbered paragraphs as per a Fighting Fantasy gamebook, and whenever you make a decision you will be told to turn to a particular paragraph. I played the game just by paging back and forth through the document in a PDF reader, a method which had the added convenience of enabling me to take notes by copying and pasting chunks of prose into a TextEdit document. Unless you have a very good memory you'll need notes to stay abreast of the game's trickery, and that trickery leads to an outcome I found strangely moving.

While Trapped in Time's prose has the clear, enthusiastic and kid-friendly style of one of the original Choose Your Own Adventure books, four-letter words and a bit of violence do make appearances later in the game.

Spoilers ahead.

In Trapped in Time you play a newly minted Chrononaut, a time travel test pilot, the best in Denmark, and you're about to enter the Copenhagen Institute of Chronology for your first time trip. After you step into the time machine, sparks fly and you find yourself back at the start of the day, standing outside the Copenhagen Institute of Chronology again and actually reading the same numbered paragraphs as before. The difference this time is that you've been informed that you can tell people about your strange experience by adding 30 to the number of the paragraph in which you first speak to them, and reading that paragraph instead. This is the first of a good number of such math-powered mechanisms for taking new actions you'll acquire during Trapped in Time, hence the need to take notes.

These addition / subtraction / multiplication tricks were used by the authors of various Fighting Fantasy game books throughout the 1980s. For instance in Phantoms of Fear (1987) if you saw an asterisk at the start of a paragraph, you could move into a dream state by adding a certain amount to the paragraph number. However, the Fighting Fantasy books were much larger than Trapped in Time and had many other mechanisms at work. Trapped exclusively uses the maths tricks, and uses them more than than any other individual gamebook has before. Of course, it's also fairly novel in using them in the service of a time traveller's loop.

The time travel concept and the overturning of staples of CYOA are played out on many levels here in a way that speaks to adults like myself who grew up on these gamebooks. The earlier stages of Trapped in Time treat you more like a child reader and occasionally invite you to write your name in the book. But as your time stream becomes more messed up and your character becomes more stressed, he starts swearing and opportunities for violence arise. The more exciting of the two endings to the game declares that your ability to travel in time is a form of cheating (I.E. reading paragraphs you weren't told to read) and that you really could have turned to any of the paragraphs at any time, and can do so now. You can use this power to find easter egg endings which are never referenced in the text of the main story.

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The following polls include votes for Trapped in Time:

Games about Time Travel by Estrong157
more specifically, games with time travel as a gameplay element.

Games centered around a "groundhog day" loop by Merk
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There were a lot of great games released in 2013, and now that the XYZZYs are coming up, it seems like a very good idea to take a poll of all the games from last year people would like to see nominated. The management has asked that we...

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This is version 15 of this page, edited by Duffadash on 11 December 2020 at 3:28am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page