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The Origin of Madame Time

by Mathbrush profile

Episode 2 of The Owl Consults Extended Universe

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Number of Ratings: 19
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1-19 of 19

- kierlani, May 9, 2020

- Zape, February 29, 2020

- loudcat, December 9, 2019

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), August 10, 2019

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Emminently likeable, July 10, 2019
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
I’m not a fan of superheroes. Perhaps you need to be at least a little bit sympathetic to the American libertarian/frontier mentality to enjoy fictions about this one guy who can go and solve problems that society as a whole can’t fix! Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t grow up with superhero comics. My childhood was defined by the Flemish comic Suske & Wiske, in which one of the good guys, Jerom, is as preternaturally strong as any superhero. But the writer ends up devising ever more complicated ways of getting Jerom out of the story, because his entrance solves every possible problem immediately. Boring. That’s why superheroes need supervillains, I guess, but then why bother going to the level of super?

Also: why bother with this introduction? Well, only to point out that it is entirely irrelevant to my appreciation of The Origin of Madame Time, since MathBrush’s effort is not in fact a superheroes game. Of course, it looks like one. It’s chock full of superheroes! But they’re all frozen in time, so they’re not doing anything; and you yourself do not have any special powers that you can use to solve the problems you are confronted with. Admittedly, you have the power to unfreeze time, which is spectacular enough. But you can only use it after solving the problems, not in order to solve them. So we end up with a very human puzzle game, even if it is set in colourful surroundings and uses a plethora of what are, for all means and purposes, magic items. There is not a single action sequence – we are light years removed from the Earth and Sky series.

The Origin of Madame Time ends up being a game that I find very easy to like. The puzzles aren’t trivial, but they won’t stump a seasoned adventurer. The setting and the set of characters are memorable. The implementation is top notch, and the humour is light but effective. It doesn’t break new ground, but it makes me smile. Since I assume that that is precisely its main purpose, I would declare it a clear success.

- necromancer, December 5, 2018

- mrfrobozzo, December 4, 2018

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fun bit of IF adventure., November 27, 2018
If you are/were a kid who likes comic books, this is the game for you. Also if you are an IF novice--the game has a little of everything that goes into IF puzzles, including doing interesting things with strange objects. I would recommend it heartily to beginners who want to get into short IF games. I thought the game was fun--my one problem was that I read a little too much into the mission--(Spoiler - click to show)at first, I thought I had to get the heroes into a state where they could defeat the villains the instant I released them--but when you get your mind on the right track, it should be quite easy to figure out. I rationalized it this way, in a nutshell--(Spoiler - click to show)All heroes need their nemeses, their opposites, so you cannot save one without also saving the other, perhaps the best possible ending! Still, I wished that the game were a little longer, or somehow involved more of the heroes'/nemeses' personalities more (although obviously they were frozen), so I gave it 4 stars.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short, Clever and Great Fun, November 23, 2018
by J. J. Guest (London, England)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2018
In this short, puzzle-centric game, we play as a young woman with a newly acquired superpower - the ability to stop time. Our job is to save a group of superheroes (and villains) from a nuclear explosion which we have put into a state of stasis.

As with all of Mathbrush's games, The Origin of Madame Time is clever, well implemented and fun to play. The action-packed superhero genre is a tough one to pull off in IF, but Mathbrush achieves it here by presenting the action just as it appears in a comic book - as a series of static vignettes. The puzzle mechanic is also clever; we must utilise the powers of the different characters in order to get them to safety.

Where it is less successful is in its sense of priorities. The exploding airship, which ought to have been front and centre, is not seen until some way into the game. In some of the descriptions, important details and bits of biographical trivia are given equal weight, which robs the setting of some of its drama.

The Origin of Madame Time was written as a sequel to The Owl Consults, but it is not necessary to have played the earlier game in order to enjoy this one. Both games are great fun, and highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, bite-sized puzzler, November 21, 2018
Last year Mathbrush donated "A short (~30 minute) game based on the author's work" to the IFComp prize pool. I was hoping to get this prize, but it was chosen by the authors of the game that came in one place higher than mine. :) (Instead, I ended up choosing custom artwork, which is excellent and that I love. I've had it framed, and it is now hanging prominently on my office wall.)

Still, I have to thank Thomas Mack, Nick Mathewson, and Cidney Hamilton for choosing Mathbrush's prize. If they hadn't, then none of us would have this fun, bite-sized puzzler to enjoy.

Picking up at the end of the events of The Owl Consults, high school student Justine Thyme is caught in an abandoned amusement park witnessing a battle between several superheros and supervillains when Rex Dashing's nuclear-powered airship explodes. The cataclysm triggers her latent powers, and she inadvertently freezes the entire amusement park area in time.

The gameplay consists of using the frozen superheros' and supervillains' powers to solve a series of puzzles. It's a fun concept that's akin to having a set of magical powers. (Also, watch for a guest appearance by one of the characters from The Owl Consults.)

Mathbrush knows how to write games that head off player frustration, and this is in evidence once again with Madame Time. There aren't too many puzzles in this game (it's rather short), but there's plenty of cluing. There's also a wonderful hint system in the form of the FORESIGHT and AFTERSIGHT commands - a system that actually makes sense within the context of the story and so doesn't break your feeling of immersion in the game.

The understated and somewhat sly sense of humor present in Absence of Law shows up here as well. I got a big chuckle out of what amounts to a "For your amusement" option after completing the game.

I'm also impressed that Mathbrush managed to get this much game into 12K words in Inform.

My one critique is that the game feels a bit short. On the other hand, it's supposed to be short: That was, after all, the promise in the statement of the prize Mathbrush was offering. Still, I would love to see the story and gameplay in Madame Time extended; it would make it even more fun.

Overall, a fun, short puzzle game that you should play.

- E.K., November 20, 2018

- AKheon (Finland), November 20, 2018

- Denk, November 19, 2018

- The Xenographer, November 19, 2018


I struggled with something I was enjoying in the beginning. I wanted to like this game, but I have to be honest with myself and not score the game higher...I will say, it does have some good puzzles that did work. But because at it's core it has only one meta puzzle, and that puzzle felt broken for me, the game scored lower than it should.
Score: 7

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McT's Interactive Fiction Reviews

[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.

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- BrettW (Canberra, Australia), November 6, 2018

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), November 3, 2018

- Jacob MacDonald, October 27, 2018

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