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Gadget: Past as Future

Gadget: Invention, Travel, & Adventure is a point and click video game (though honestly more of a Visual Novel) directed by Haruhiko Shono and first released by Synergy Interactive in 1993. In 1998, a better-known remake of the game titled Gadget: Past as Future was released by Cryo Interactive.

The game is set within a Diesel Punk nation called "The Empire", ruled by dictator Paulo Orlovsky, that feels and looks similiar to that of George Orwell's 1984.

The plot is quite esoteric and ambiguous. A lot of it is left to interpretation or told only by inference. As far as anyone can tell; the nation comissioned this group of seven scientists (headed by Horselover Frost) to build a Mind-Control Device called "Sensorama" to brainwash dissidents. However, the scientists spotted at the observatory a comet approaching the earth, along with a mysterious giant spaceship, and realized the world was going to end and that the spaceship was there to rescue those who would come. So they hacked into the Sensorama so that those subjected to it would obey Horselover instead. The nation became suspicious of the scientists and has a secret agent investigate them. You take the role of that agent. Prior to the game, however, you get subjected to the Sensorama yourself, and the rest of the game is played under its influence.

You get assigned by your commanding officer, Theodore Slowslop, to investigate the scientists again. You travel around a bunch of train stations (the operative word of the game is "locomotive", imagery of them abounds in the game to a borderline fetishic degree), talking to the scientists at their secret laboratories, and under the Sensorama's influence you begin helping them, gathering gizmos to complete a small-scale spaceship called the "Ark", which, supposedly, the scientists will use to fly up to the big one. You are riddled throughout with hallucinations of what appears to be a post-apocalyptic swampland; and a creepy little boy who keeps appearing and dissappearing, never saying a word, of whom the identity and purpose of is completely unknown. By the end, very little is explained and it is left unclear exactly how much of the journey has even been real.

In appearance, the game is very similiar to Myst. However, the game is entirely linear; you cannot do anything or travel anywhere that isn't scripted. You click to move ahead and activate things; that's it. There's only one puzzle in the game; a relatively simple maze at the end when you navigate the Ark through some underground tunnels. It is therefore really more a Kinetic Novel that you play for the beautiful scenery and eerie atmosphere more than it is a Video Game.


This game provides examples of:

  • After the End: What the random scenes taking place in a swamp might be.
  • All There in the Manual: The creative team behind the game also published a book of CG art expanding on the world and characters; much of the information given — transcripts of recorded conversations, reports on Sensorama experiments, the face and name of the protagonist — cannot be found anywhere else. It also reveals that the scientists are lying through their teeth to the government, and vice versa.
  • Comet of Doom
  • Cool Plane: The player flies one at one point.
  • Cool Train: The entire point of the game is Cool Trains.
  • Creepy Child: The boy.
  • Diesel Punk
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: The beginning and end are accompanied by one.
  • Gainax Ending: The game ends with you flying the Ark into this giant mechanical structure topped with a glass dome. Inside is what looks like a giant sensorama. Slowslop, who previously was having you investigate the scientists but now seems to be working with them, tells you to give him your suitcase; then the giant sensorama activates, there's a hallucination and Slowslop dissappears. Then you come to and find the machine destroyed, you go through some doors and end up back in the hotel room you began the game in; albeit with the aforementioned swampland outside the window. There's another regular-sized sensorama which you use and see what Orlovsky planned for the empire, then the boy appears again, disappears, then you see some swirling lights outside the window; you fly out of it over the swamplands; a face rises out of a pool of water, and then the game ends. Not kidding.
  • Mind-Control Device
  • Mind Screw
  • The New Russia
  • Only Sane Man: Several characters throughout the game insist that they are this.
  • Point-and-Click Game
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Slowslop, on several occasions.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Most of the dialogue is given solely in subtitles, so it's rather unnerving to answer a ringing phone and hear Slowslop on the other end.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: What the entire game might very well be.
  • Widget Game
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