Given that the 2008 Olympics are in full swing, it’s fitting that new match-three puzzler Time Quest revolves around a contest featuring some of ancient Greece’s most notable names. You’ll actually compete directly against these personalities, rushing to fill boards with colored tiles before they do. Although the game follows a fairly routine formula, there’s nonetheless ample reason to give it a whirl.
Per the plotline, told through attractive animated cutscenes, you’re an explorer who stumbles upon an aeons-old secret hinted at by your father. Upon finding it, Hermes whisks you back through the ages to play against historical notables in a series of single-screen challenges based around logic and puzzle-solving.
From Hercules to Helen of Troy, each self-contained scenario is presided over by a figure from myth and legend, who smirks, grins and pouts as play progresses. Even more intriguingly, as alluded to above, it’s necessary to color in the squares of all grid-shaped boards before they do, adding constant pressure that keeps you hooked throughout.
Production values are immediately eye-catching, with varyingly-shaped boards (divided into halves, multiple sections or one interconnected whole) inhabited by brush-, ring-, comb-, mask-, coin- and other valuable object-filled tiles of distinctly bright hue and pleasing visual quality. Using your mouse to click in succession, it’s possible to swap the position of any two of these items, with one’s aim being to make horizontal or vertical rows of three or more identical pieces.
Accomplish this, and the objects disappear in a sparkling explosion while the squares they inhabited take on a golden tinge, with higher-situated pieces dropping down to fall in the holes, possibly helping you rack up big combos. And while hard-to-reach and locked pieces quickly become a nuisance, affecting the flow and pacing of on-screen action, you’ll nevertheless find base play mechanics remain much the same throughout.
Speeding the proceedings along, thankfully, is the presence of various collectible bonuses. Some power-ups randomly appear attached to objects, e.g. dynamite that lets you destroy all tiles above, below or to the left or right of its current position. Others must be earned by filling a meter, such as stars that let you destroy individual items or more fancy extras like bombs and chained lightning that incinerate multiple tiles in a spray of gee-whiz special effects.
As in like-minded rivals though, it’s still too easy to find yourself stuck with a few tiles orphaned in remote positions that take forever to reach. Along the same lines, the arsenal of tools you’re afforded isn’t particularly exciting or novel.
Bearing these points in mind, what you basically get here is an above-average outing that only deviates slightly from the common mold. We’d have liked to see more done with the one-on-one mechanic, and opponents be a bit chattier in terms of active put-downs or comments to give challenges additional emotional impact.
Still, one has to applaud the incorporation of these elements, and the overall level of panache sported by the current contender, an otherwise strictly by-the-numbers mindbender. There’s no reason, however, that more time couldn’t be invested to taking the series, and its signature aspects, to the next level of aesthetic fidelity, depth and interactivity in a possible sequel.
As such, it’s hard to imagine anyone playing for weeks on end. A few days’ worth of entertainment, though, will surely be forthcoming. Time Quest may not be especially innovative, or liable to knock your socks’ off like the best blockbusters do. Regardless, it’ll still provide solid bang for the buck, making it – at least in the common parlance of today’s IOC – a guaranteed contender for silver-medal status.