We go back in time to review Buried in Time again and raise our score to 4.
iPlay updated their game Buried in Time and they have fixed a lot of the issues that we had when we originally reviewed the game.
- They updated character profiles so that hungry characters can still cook. If a player gets with all characters being hungry, anyone with the cooking skill will still continue to produce food.
- They updated character profiles so that hungry characters can continue to pick up fortune flowers. This allows players to earn additional funding so they can upgrade their camp or hire new help.
Though they have not added the feature to allow a player to start the game from a particular point in time (the game), it does remove the serious design flaw we encountered (see below). So, like Michael J. Fox and the Professor, we go back in time and raise our review to a 4.
Buried in Time is a potentially great sim game with a serious design flaw.
Editor’s Note: We just got off the phone with I-Play and they plan on updating a fix to this one particular case scenario shortly.
Truth be told, Buried in Time – the latest interactive offering from I-play — should get a failing grade. About three or four hours into the adventure, it’s possible to hit a roadblock that prohibits you from continuing the game — and leaving you no option but to start all over from the very beginning. How about that. We’ll get this serious design flaw in a moment, but let’s first highlight what’s good about this new sim.
Buried in Time introduces us to Bingham and Jack, two young archeologists determined to uncover a precious diamond buried deep within the sands of the earth. In doing so, the duo unravel an ancient tale of love, trust and betrayal. Interestingly, the events of years’ past might be foretelling the fate of today’s adventurers and some of the characters they’ll soon work with here in the desert. The story is one of the more charming elements of the game.
The game takes place at an archeological dig, challenging you to assign various tasks for the characters in your camp. Each worker will specialize in one (or more) of five main skills: surveying (looking for areas to excavate, and your dog can help here, too), excavating (digging for artifacts in the sand), brushing (carefully cleaning the items at a table), analyzing (using software and other tools to study your findings) and cooking (to keep your crew, and pet, happily fed so they have enough energy for their tasks). A clever role-playing game (RPG) element has characters increase their skills in one of these areas over time and experience, including secondary skills which are key, too, as sometimes you’ll need more than one person to perform a task.
The business part of the sim has you managing the money collected by earning grants and collecting rare white flowers. Use this cash to hire more help – and ensure you’ve got a well-rounded team – or to upgrade your camp such as enhancing your brushing or analyzing tents. The more people you hire, though, the more beds you’ll need for them to sleep in. You can manage up to 20 characters at the same time, if desired (fortunately, the interface to find characters on the map is quite easy).
On a related note, gamers will grab the wandering workers with their mouse cursor and drop them onto the spot they need to be in – because for the most part they don’t know where to go next. Unexpected events will happen, too, which is fun to try and work around, plus it’s hard not to enjoy the dialogue (including flirting) between your crew. At the end of every main mission, you can play (or skip) a semi-tough minigame that varies in type, but are usually logic-based. These puzzles could include sliding tiles around, placing objects in the correct order, deciphering clues, and much more – and all of these challenges are tied to the story.
Except for the minigame puzzles, if any of this sounds familiar then perhaps you’ve played Artist Colony – created by the same developers of Buried in Time – as it enjoys a similar gameplay mechanic, art style and interaction between characters.
OK, so what went wrong, then? It’s a tad confusing, so stick with me. A few hours into the game, I didn’t have a cook as Jack fell down the well. Thinking it would solve the problem, I scraped up enough cash to purchase a $3000 upgrade for the cooking tent. Alas, it didn’t help. Instead, I realized I had to hire another cook. But because I spent all my money on the upgrade, I couldn’t hire her. Even if I had the couple hundred dollars to hire a cook, the game told me I needed more beds to hire someone new, but the sleeping tent upgrade was $4000. Sigh. My characters became so hungry they refused to work, therefore the game was at a standstill. To make matters worse, there was no way to go back to a previous point in the game and no option to sell anything to raise enough money to hire a cook. That’s it – game over – though the game doesn’t tell you so.
Gamezebo contacted I-play to explain the problem and they did confirm our suspicions: Buried in Time has to be started all over again from the very beginning. They said they’ve never experienced this flaw in their testing.
There are other issues with the game, too, such as only one game mode (which hurts its replayability) and it can be tough to grab one of your characters who wander aimlessly around the excavation site (especially in fast-forward mode). But these minor niggles are pale in comparison to painting yourself into a corner with no recourse but to start the game again.
Hopefully the developers will find a way to address this issue – perhaps the option to restart a particular chapter in the story – and then re-release the game in a timely fashion. It’s too bad this incident marred the experience, because Buried in Time‘s clever gameplay, great story and attractive graphics should make it one of the more charming digital downloads of the season.