"When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Words of wisdom for anyone who sets out on this adventure from GTE Entertainment. Myst-ically influenced, with a first-person perspective and still-framed graphics, Timelapse is one expedition where the ability to assimilate is an important advantage. The adventure begins when you respond to a message from a scholarly comrade, Professor Alexander Nicholas. He believes several ancient civilizations - Egyptian, Mayan and Anasazi - are somehow genetically linked to the mysterious city of Atlantis, and he needs your help to unlock the mystery. Arriving on present-day Easter Island, you embark on an adventure transcending time, space, and occasionally logic. Get ready for one heck of a history lesson.
Timelapse contains a wide variety of puzzles, ranging from simple to mind-bending. While some puzzles - like playing the lizard in a game of Simon (the colored light game) - teeter on being more bothersome than challenging, others - like matching up symbols using the three-dial Mayan calendar - are practically impossible. A few can be solved using luck rather than skill. But the majority of puzzles have been designed with some relevance to each culture, which results in a genuine feeling of immersion. You might actually believe you were looking at Egypt during the height of its empire if it weren't for the absence of intelligent inhabitants.
Fortunately you can use several objects on your expedition - the professor's journal and a camera. The camera, which can take up to 36 pictures, will provide comic relief for most players ("See, this is where I stabbed the crocodile. Cute huh?"), rather than help with the game. The journal, while lengthy and often a real chore to read, provides a fairly detailed account of the professor's discoveries of the civilizations you're exploring. If carefully read, it can offer some useful clues and background information, but you'll still need to apply some good old-fashioned brain power to successfully make it through the game.
While moving through Timelapse is often a lengthy series of point-and-clicks, some locations can be reached using a hyperlink feature which moves you multiple steps in only one click. This is especially useful when exploring the Mayan temples. Your inventory is limited to one item, so remember where you found the object that disappeared when you picked up that second item because that's where you'll find it waiting for you.
Although some of the gameplay is quirky and you'll spend a lot of time surveying each civilization looking for clues, the experience will be a visual delight. Timelapse is truly an optical masterpiece. Each world is displayed in beautifully detailed, high-res graphics that tantalize the senses. Combined with well-designed sounds and motion - like the waves pounding against the shores of Easter Island, and the creatures on the Anasazi terrain who scurry across your path - the realism is admirable. Hands down, Timelapse is one of the prettiest adventure games of the year.
Timelapse's intriguing storyline and fairly well designed collection of puzzles should bring GTE kudos for delivering an experience that will appeal to both the novice and the hard-core adventurer. And if they aren't careful, players might just come away from Timelapse learning something about several amazing ancient civilizations - or at the very least, realize how much they forgot from their high school history classes.