The Gateway Beckons...
Mysteriously, great works of art are disappearing all over the world. Your mission... well... to go and find them, of course!
Beyond Time is actually a great adventure that has been kept undercover because of poor graphics, poor sound effects and a somewhat tacky theme. The game starts off a little rocky, but after a while, Beyond Time opens up and the true adventure comes out and envelops you. It is the plot development that truly saves this title, so if you're an adventure fan at heart, and you don't mind 2nd class graphics or sounds, Beyond Time is for you.
As I mentioned, graphics are extremely mediocre. This can be a problem since the game is centered around historical landmarks across the world. Many scenes are very well done with rich textures and excellent color coordination, but others (particularly outdoor scenes) are unrealistic at best, and that causes you to lose that immersive feeling. Compared to Riven, Beyond Time's graphics can't even come close.
Sound quality is another problem area. Again, many sounds are very well done; while others are terrible and leave you wondering what the hell they were thinking! Basically, the game lacks any sort of consistency in these areas, something that Riven and other top-of-the-line adventure games have managed to master. For the most part, there is no background music; however, there is usually some sort of environmental background noise whether it's wind blowing, birds chirping, or quiet music in select areas.
The interface and movement is very similar to Riven. In fact there is only one main difference: Beyond Time has an inventory window. Although, many puzzles require you to have some sort of object upon completion, the game is not centered around whether you can find a stupid amulet or the red key.
In Beyond Time, you go from landmark to landmark trying to find the lost masterpieces of the world. You start out in Egypt, and end up in a Spacestation. On the way, you'll visit, Tibet, the Mayan Temples, and the Ruins of Atlantis. Each landmark has specific goals and the puzzles are all mythologically and culturally related to that respective landmark. One of the best parts about Beyond Time, is how they integrated all the different types of puzzle games. For example, in some games the puzzles are strictly inventory-based. You have to run around and find things, then figure out what to do with them (throw axe at troll). Other games, like 7th Guest, or Shivers II, they're just random brain-teasers that are gratuitously placed anywhere, whether they have something to do with the story or not (which they usually don't). Beyond Time took the principles of each and worked them into ALL of their own puzzles AND made them relevant to the culture that you are visiting!!! The puzzles aren't simply put anywhere, instead they have depth and meaning, and it takes good observational skills, patience, and intellectual ingenuity to solve them. Most of the time, the answer to your question is right under your nose, you just have to expand your thinking and realize it. Some puzzles are even audio based!
Overall, Beyond Time is a good adventure game that unfortunately lacks consistency in its technical aspects. The lackluster graphics and sound are simply going to push many gamers away, but there is good substance beneath the tarnished surface. If you love adventures and puzzles that require you to think instead of getting lucky, you'll definitely enjoy Beyond Time. The requirements are very low which is an added plus for those of you who have a "less than state-of-the-art" computer. So check it out!