Time Gate: Knight's Chase
You are William Tibbs, an American student with some seriously un-American sideburns who has come to Paris to speak in a booming voice in restaurants, order Coke with all your meals despite there being an ample supply of alternative beverages available, and ridicule the titchy French automobiles with their pathetic lack of chrome and their seats made of straw. In your spare time you set about studying international law, in the hope that one day you will be able to make some serious money from an environmental disaster. Within minutes of landing at the airport, you have acquired a beautiful French chick by the name of Juliette Gascogne as your girlfriend, largely thanks to the supply of genuine nylon stockings and American cigarettes that you have dangling on the inside of your coat on little pieces of string. What's more, as soon as she realises that you wash every day and change your underwear on a regular basis, she proposes marriage - and you readily accept mainly because she doesn't chew gum while having sex and has armpits so hairy that she looks like a poodle smuggler. You've always been a sucker for hairy women. (Literally.)
One evening, however, your idyllic new lifestyle is shattered, right in the middle of learning the French term for nuclear-free zone: a large man wearing medieval armour and brandishing a sword crashes through the window of your bedroom, seemingly determined to turn you into a chump chop. Fortunately, for some reason known only to himself, the man-in-armour announced his entrance by throwing a battle axe through the window first, and you, showing the resourcefulness that has made America the greatest country the universe has ever known pick up the axe and hurl it into the intruder's chest. Much to your surprise, he disappears with a spark and a puff of smoke. You're just about to congratulate yourself on your Starsky and Hutch-style handiness in a scrap, when you hear a disembodied, slightly scary voice with a French accent telling you that your beloved Juliette has been kidnapped. Before you can say, "A kidnapped girlie - what an unusual way to start an adventure game," the voice goes on to explain that she was nabbed on the way to the snappily-named Museum of the History and Tradition of The Middle Ages, where she was training to be an archaeologist, and that she's been secreted in that very same Museum.
They call me Mister Tibbs
Next morning, after a good sleep and a nice breakfast, off you hurry to the Museum to save your love. And off you go into another Alone In The Dark style adventure, during the course of which you'll be plunged back in time to the 1300s, the days of the Knights Templar — for you are the reincarnation of one of the original nine Templars. The disembodied voice is that of the evil Wolfram, an old enemy who you've fought down the ages in your various incarnations, and who, since this is the first of a three-part series, you will probably be fighting again in Parts Two and Three. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rescue that chick...
Sudden, violent death
As you can probably see from the screenshots. Time Gate really doesn't look much different to the three Alone In The Dark games. That's because it isn't. Claims of great advances in the graphics department have been made - light sourcing on all the sets and guru shading on the characters - but the effects don't exactly transform the thing. You can see the differences; the characters look a bit more rounded, but it's hardly a quantum leap from AITD. So let's move onto the gameplay.
Here, too, nothing very much has changed. There are still rooms to be explored, objects to find, obscure and sometimes baffling puzzles to solve, enemies to fight and multiple camera angles that frame all the action. Given the number of people who loved AITD, this will be good news for them. The controls for fighting, picking up and using objects wilf also be familiar to anyone who's played any of the first series, as will the fact that Time Gate is punctuated at frequent intervals by a sudden, violent death: yours. Your adventures, no matter whether they are in the past or the present day, have a nasty habit of coming to an abrupt halt. This leads to a peculiar style of playing, encouraging a morbid obsession with saving the game every time you achieve anything (like walking round a corner without getting a crossbow bolt in the kidneys).
But just as these very characteristics can appeal to aficionados, so they can also frustrate. Fighting has always been a pain - it's sometimes difficult to line your victim up (although it's easier to sword-fight than it used to be to shoot) and it can be unnecessarily difficult to pick things up. Even if you know just where you should be standing (you've done it before, just before you were shot in the head) you sometimes have to adjust position to grab things. While there are times when you just walk up to something and pick it up, at others (when it's part of the 'gameplay' to find it) you have to search for the bugger. Occasionally you find something that isn't even visible, which makes you start worrying that you've missed things elsewhere. And you have to hold the spacebar down long enough to ensure you've actually started searching.
There are also inconsistencies that will infuriate you: on the roof beams, for example, quite near the start of the game, sudden death is very common if you take a wrong turn. You either get crossbowed, or fall to your death if you go too near the edge - unless, that is, you're at the one place where it's been decided that you can jump down.
There are times when only mind-bending trial and error will get you out of a spot, and others when the puzzles will weigh on your mind until you find yourself spitting at babies in the street. There are also many times when you'll do the right thing to solve a puzzle but not stand in the right place, and so it doesn't work. None of this is news, of course - the AITD series had all of this, and people still love them. What we're saying is basically that if you liked the Alone In The Dark games, you'll like this, because it's almost exactly the same.
This lack of progression is one reason why Time Gate gets a lower mark than its predecessors. The other is that if you haven't seen any of the others and fancy a go, you can buy the original three-game trilogy for the same price as this, without really missing out on much.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode