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Moments Out of Time

by L. Ross Raszewski

Episode 1 of Moments Out of Time
Time Travel

(based on 12 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

"Note: requires a Z6-capable interpreter, preferably with Blorb sound support." [--blurb from Competition Aught-One]

Game Details


2nd Place - 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2001)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

A poking-and-searching game about historical research via time travel. You have a limited time to explore an ordinary home in the days just before a major war turns nuclear. Your main objective is revelatory documents, not so much about the political situation, which is well-known, but about how people lived. After your return, you are quizzed on your findings and evaluated. Loads of backstory, often given through large infodumps. Good degree of detail in the environment, with the aim of giving a sense of the absent characters. Decent prose, but no particular dramatic structure - the story is part of the setting, rather than vice versa. Many, many locked doors and hidden keys. One optional puzzle is rendered unsolvable by a bug, but I notied no bugs beyond that.

Exploration is aided by a variety of gadgets, including an automapper and a hint dispenser, but you can only bring a few of them with you in a given session. Which tools you choose to bring will affect what parts of the game you can see, and it'll probably take you multiple sessions with different loadouts to get a satisfactoy picture of the family. It's possible to get a favorable evaluation at the end with most loadouts, but some tools make it a lot easier. (Perfectionists take note: A perfect mission is impossible. Even the author says he's never gotten a mission evaluation above 93% or so.)

Features an ambitious extension of the user interface, adding an elaborate system of nested menus to the bottom of the screen. This does not work properly on some interpreters, and can be disabled without affecting gameplay through the command "MENU OFF". I personally liked the "compass" option, which turns the menu into a list of exits, but didn't use it for anything else.

-- Carl Muckenhoupt


The writing is good throughout the game, but the best-written parts are in the first person and take the voices of the characters; call me easily persuaded, but I was convinced. I found no false notes in the voices of the characters when they set their own thoughts down on paper -- some unappealing aspects, maybe, but very much true to life.

That itís difficult to give a story/exploration-based game any sort of pace or direction is not news, of course, and I donít blame Moments for resorting to puzzles to achieve some sort of structure, keep the game from becoming a big lump of facts.
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

[T]here are the bones of an amazing game here. The plot revolves around a future time-travel agency, and the world-building evident in the details of this is just wonderful. Also, some of the things that make it inappropriate for the competition don't necessarily make it a bad game. Quite the contrary, in fact -- the number of options available makes for an incredibly rich gameworld...

All in all, a very worthy effort, but I wish it wasn't a competition game. Releasing this game outside the competition would have accrued several benefits. It would have allowed more time to fix those nasty details of implementation and documentation. Players could have approached it as something they could spend a significant amount of time on, rather than having to rush through it to see as much as possible while not giving short shrift to the other 51 games awaiting their attention. And it wouldn't have been presented for formal judging in a not-completely-functional state. Would have, would have, would have. If only real time travel were possible.

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Have Stream, Will Travel
One of your goals, I suppose, is to get a high score on your evaluation at the end of the game. And if you asked the PC about his motives, he say that's his main goal. From the player's point of view, though, replaying the game wouldn't be much fun if boosting your score were the only objective. In my case, what drove me to play the game again and again was the challenge of piecing together the game's fragmentary story, using multiple sets of tools during multiple playthroughs, until, gradually, the bits of the story began to come together.

What's especially compelling, though, is that these two goals are synergistic. Whether you're playing to gain knowledge or just to get a high score, you'll surely end up getting both. This makes the game all the more rewarding. For this and other reasons, if you're looking for a game with a lot of replay value, this is it.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A replay-often time travel game with customizable inventory, February 3, 2016

I played this game because Adam Cadre cited it as one of his favorite games ever. You play as a time traveller who is investigating an old house.

Due to time travel limitations, you can only bring a limited amount of items with you. However, you need pretty much all of the items at one time or another to see the whole story. Thus, you have to replay it over and over to see more and more.

There's no real one big goal. It's a lot of fun to slowly unravel the story, though.

This game used some fancy window techniques, which didn't work for my game. So I just played without them.

I was discovering big, shocking things even on the fourth or fifth play through.

Excellent game.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
~1600 words on Moments Out of Time, October 21, 2015
by Adam Cadre (Albany, California)

I kept up with interactive fiction up until the end of 2001, then played virtually none for the next fourteen years. This may be my favorite IF piece from before that hiatus. More here: http://adamcadre.ac/calendar/15/15232.html

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