Perhaps I'm too harsh with text adventures. Perhaps - just perhaps - I'm a bit of a mengie and only read books with full-page pictures, which is why I never really got on board the whole "Go North, pick up the key" malarkey. Suddenly, 24 years too late, I realise I may have done myself a disservice.
After forcing myself to play Lords of Time (by holding my left index finger in a pair of bolt cutters and threatening to cut it off if I didn't load the game), I was surprised about the intrigue washing over me despite all my best efforts not to enjoy it. Very little in the way of instructions are given, other than the necessities of control. And, regardless of the sci-fi/fantasy theme suggested by the title, the opening surroundings are remarkably ordinary.
I find myself sat in a living room, staring at the wall. Events quickly (very quickly, which is not something that can be said of most text adventures) escalate and lead me quite organically toward a mysterious grandfather clock. Guiding players in a specific direction while still allowing them the feeling of choice is a concept modern games all promise, yet few deliver. Yet here I see it calling to me from 1983; a wonderful metaphor of the actual time-travelling events of Lords of Time.
Just like the reviewers of the early '80s, I twitch at the keyboard, desperate to tell you of the events that took me from my living room, to the cavemen then into the far reaches of the future and outer space - but I can't. This is the first time I've ever seen a text adventure comparable to a great novel, and to detail its events would be to read aloud the final chapter, and a millennium of entertainment-based courtesy prohibits me from doing so.
Suffice to say that this is not a game but an interactive novel, as well written as a published book and as intriguing as any great work of fantasy fiction; drama, action and a progressive journey await anyone who enters the Lords of Time.