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Video Game / Killing Time

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Way to show some backbone there, fella.

Killing Time is a horror-themed FPS video game with Full Motion Video components, developed by Studio 3DO and released in 1995 for their 3DO Interactive Multiplayer console.

It was initially meant to stay as an exclusive, but was later ported (with substantial changes) to Windows 95 PC platform in 1996 by Intrepid Software and to Macintosh when the 3DO system failed to meet sales expectations. The PC version has significantly improved level design and controls as well as higher resolution weapons, but the FMVs are significantly more compressed and pixelated, and the enemy sprites are also much simpler (comparable in quality to Doom or Duke Nukem 3D) in contrast to the high-resolution live-action sprites of the 3DO version.

The player controls an ex-Egyptology Student, trapped on a fictional 1930s version of Matinicus Isle, Maine, within the estate of wealthy heiress Tess Conway. In 1932, during the night of the Summer Solstice, Tess, while attempting to use a mystical Ancient Egyptian Water-Clock which purportedly grants eternal life, vanished, along with many of her society friends. The player's objective is to find, and destroy, the Water-Clock, and discover the secrets of the estate, all while beating back the many horrors that now occupy the island from beyond the grave.

Killing Time, despite its general first-person shooter gameplay is unique, especially for its time. It was one of the first FPS games to feature interconnected levels forming a continuous open world, rather than a simple set of linear levels. Throughout the game the plot is slowly revealed to the player through numerous ghostly Cutscenes which are integrated into the game level geometry, all of them performed by a cast of professional actors. Unlike other games that deal in the mythology of other cultures, the producers of Killing Time relayed accurate knowledge of Egyptian lore in the story. Also unique for its time, the game even includes several songs written exclusively for the game along with an impressive sound track.

The PC version of the game was only available via digital distribution on the obscure Zoom Platform website for a couple years, but as of November 2016 is now available on and Steam as well. A PlayStation port was planned for release by Acclaim in 1997, but was cancelled (the beta image was eventually leaked online).

This Video Game contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Subverted; the mansion does have a rather extensive network of sewers, yes, but the ceilings in it are low, you can't avoid Mucking in the Mud, the network is a veritable labyrinth, and hordes of mutated beetles and toads await to fling dung and spit toxic grime at you at every turn. As in much of the rest of the island, having a lot of space around you doesn't mean you'll have much room to maneuver; woe to you if you happen to be claustrophobic.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Most of the story is told through live action FMV flashbacks of past events that occur at specific points on the map, marked by a blue ghost of Tess saying "help me". In the second half of the game, after you've gotten most of the keys from the cellar/sewers/temple of Isis path, the FMVs will start to turn into the ghosts of the island actually communicating with you rather than simply recordings of the past.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Definitely comes into play with some of the UpperClassTwits here.
    • Duncan esteemed himself a "businessman" and yet was little better than a Nouveau Riche petty arms smuggler and bootlegger.
    • Tess, with all her money, was constantly having wild and sordid parties and casually using people and tossing them aside, including Duncan. She also stole the water clock, and was using it to achieve her megalomaniacal purpose of attaining godlike immortality at the end.
  • Badass Bookworm: The Player Character, a former Egyptology student who also knows a thing or two about blasting monsters with a shotgun.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Wielding the revolver shows your character apparently opted to visit the abandoned estate while wearing a nice pinstripe suit.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: You get this a Game-Over Man kind of way, if you get the Downer Ending; might count as Have a Nice Death, or as A Fate Worse Than Death depending on how you interpret it.
    • It's also worth noting that this ending is unavoidable in the 3DO version no matter what you do. The later PC and Macintosh versions of the game allows you to avoid it though. It was possibly meant to be a cliffhanger ending in the first iteration, with the good ending added to the ports when it became obvious that a sequel was unlikely.
  • Big Bad: Tess Conway.
  • Boss Banter: Duncan, the Avatar of Set, will leer at your futile attempts at putting him down.
    Set: "You cannot kill ME, mortal!"
    Set: "It was I who slew the souls on this cursed island, and I will laugh as you die before me!"
  • Bottomless Magazines: Like most games from the early era of FPS, weapons don't need to be reloaded and can be fired continuously until you run out of ammo. Particularly noticeable on the revolver you start the game with, especially since most enemies require several bullets to kill.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: The final boss, Tess as the goddess Isis, is immune to the Ankh, thanks to being an Egyptian god themselves. In fact if you try to use it on them they'll just laugh at your grand and intoxicating naivety.
  • Curse: A classic textbook Egyptian iteration of this trope is the byproduct of Tess attempting to harness the power of the Water-Clock of Thoth for her own gain.
    • She also uses it to punish Duncan. He ends up having a curse directly put on him by Tess forcing him to become an avatar of Set to drive him into insanity for fatally wounding her.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: In the PC version, the final boss, Tess as the goddess Isis, is this, capable of soaking way more damage than any other enemy in the game and essentially being a typical FPS final boss fight. She can tank your entire carried stockpile of tommy gun and shotgun ammo and keep going, though about half your total reserve of flamethrower fuel can vaporize her.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: Undead man's, anyway. When killed, the 3DO version's gangster zombies continue spraying fire from their Tommy guns as they spin and collapse.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons are a common enemy you'll find in underground areas and the Mausoleum/Cemetary. They fling fireballs and are generally annoying.
  • Double-Meaning Title: At first, the game being named "Killing Time" seems like just a general "trying to be badass" name that a lot of "Doom Clones" came up with at the time, such as "Gloom", "Chasm", or "Powerslave". However, the plot involves an island being trapped in time because of a curse that has broken the flow of time on the island, literally "killing time".
  • Dual Wielding: Finding a second revolver allows you to dual wield them, doubling your rate of fire. They're still a little slower-firing than the tommy gun, but the flip side of that is you have more control over your ammo usage.
  • Easy Logistics: For all the Resources Management Gameplay you'll be doing, there sure is an awful lot of ammunition lying around. The story justifies this somewhat as Duncan is shown to have been using the mansion and the island as a storage space for all the weapons caches his arms-smuggling associates were shipping to him. He likewise ordered
  • Emergency Weapon: You have a crowbar for if you run out of ammo for everything you're carrying. You can manage to kill a few enemies with it, but you take too much damage trying to melee enemies in this game to use it as a primary weapon.
  • French Maid: In the PC version, Tess' manor has plenty of sexy French maids running around, though they've been turned into succubus-like demons. There are also a lot of portly zombie Scullery Maids running around also (the 3DO version only seems to have the portly zombie Scullery Maids).
  • Game Mod: A community patch has been developed that allows the game to be played with true mouse look as well as in Direct3D render (via Dgvoodoo). The effects on the graphics is minimum due to not using effects like texture filtering (like GZDoom or EDuke32 do), but true mouse look makes the game much smoother as otherwise you can't strafe and turn with the mouse at the same time.
  • Giant Mook: The PC version has giant bruisers that appear alongside the regular tommygun-wielding undead gangsters. They're larger than normal and can take about 2-3 times as much damage as most standard enemies, but are armed only with their fists.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Tess wanted to use the water clock to put Matinicus Island into a time bubble so she and her friends could party for eternity. However, when Duncan stabbed her in a fit of jealousy, she activates the clock prematurely, trapping the island's inhabitants into a ghostly purgatory.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The goal of the game is to assemble all the magic Winged Vessels hidden throughout the island, which when assembled will allow you to open the endgame doors to where the water clock pieces are.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The key to the dining room found in the 1st floor East Wing is surrounded by pillars that block your access. One of the pillars is a pushwall you need to interact with; at almost no other point in the game are there hidden pushwalls, so the idea that one of the pillars would be one would not naturally occur to you.
    • The riddles in the hedge maze can be hard to solve, as the pictures depicting the solutions are so low resolution it can be hard to tell exactly what they are supposed to represent. Fortunately, in the PC version, there's no punishment for just brute forcing the solutions other than some wasted time.
    • The Winged Vessel in the Topiary is extremely well hidden, and is probably one of the hardest to find. The switch that opens the trapdoor to the area it's in is well hidden behind a bush, and the actual trapdoor is hidden inside a fountain.
    • To progress to the endgame area from Tess' bedroom, you need to select the portrait of the character who is responsible for her murder. However, not only are you not provided enough information to know this for certain at this pointnote , the game doesn't even indicate to you in any way that this is what you're supposed to be doing. You can at least brute force the solution by saving and loading.
  • Guns Akimbo: It is possible to wield two revolvers simultaneously in the PC and Macintosh versions of the game. You can accomplish this by finding the secret room in the dock building at the start of the game or entering in either Chow Yun Fat or John Woo as your name when starting a new game.
  • Implacable Man: At the very end of the game, you end up releasing Duncan, now transformed into the Avatar of Set. A handful of shotgun blasts will put him down, but nothing you can do will keep him down for very long. The climax of the game involves him chasing you throughout the mansion as you try to find an alternative method of getting rid of him.
  • Kill It with Fire: A fairly good tactic if you can find the flamethrower and keep it fueled. There are also molotov cocktails you can throw. Both are also effective against the Final Boss, who can otherwise tank your entire ammo reserve of shotgun and tommy gun bullets and keep going.
  • Large Ham: Duncan as the Avatar of Set in the PC and Macintosh version. "MORTAL! I AM THE AVATAR OF SET! RULER OF THE NIGHT! YOUR SOUL BELONGS TO ME!
  • MacGuffin: The Water-Clock of Thoth is both a huge motivating force behind the events that led to the island being locked in a time limbo as well as an invaluable item you have locate in order to escape the island.
  • Monster Clown: A number of them appear as enemies inside the mansion. Apparently Tess hired them as entertainment for the big Summer Solstice party. The 3DO version's look more like ordinary clowns, but have a very unnerving habit of sticking their hands right in your face to attack you.
  • Mooks, but no Bosses: The 3DO version has no real boss fights, other than the final chase with Set at the end, and even he can be (temporarily) taken down with just a handful of shotgun blasts. The PC version adds a Final Boss battle with Tess transformed into the goddess Isis.
  • More Dakka: The Tommy gun tends to get good results if you can keep it trained on the enemy.
  • Multiple Endings: Only in the PC and Macintosh versions. As mentioned before, the 3DO version only has a Downer Ending.
  • Not Hyperbole: In one of the ghost flashbacks Tess jokes about locking up the Women's Temperance League (anti-alcohol activists) in the wine cellar if they try to crash her party. When you go into the wine cellar, you'll find it full of angry old Temperance League spinsters trying to kill you. Their fate also doubles as an Ironic Hell for them.
  • Poison Mushroom: When killed, enemies will sometimes drop red orbs instead of the blue orbs that restore your health. The red orbs instead damage you and can even kill you if your health is low enough.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: There's a finite amount of ammo and health on the island, and it's entirely possible to completely use it all up through excessively reckless gameplay. Since you can backtrack to previously explored areas it's a good idea to save some pickups for later use rather than spend them all at once, and also not to waste pickups by "topping up" when you're almost at max capacity anyway.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Killing Time has monster in-fighting similar to Doom, where enemies of different types may attack each other if they accidentally harm each other with friendly fire.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The shotgun is arguably your best friend throughout this game. Ammo for it is plentiful and it kills most enemies with just a solid hit or two provided you can get close enough.
  • Shown Their Work: This game shows very accurate knowledge of Egyptian lore.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: At the end of the game, the only way to defeat Set is to summon Tess Conway, now the Avatar of Isis. She blows Set/Duncan away with a (presumably god-empowered) tommy gun, then decides to reward you for all your hard work... by having you join her army of the dead. In the PC and Macintosh version, you can politely decline her offer with a few dozen grenades to the face.
  • This Cannot Be!: Tess Conway, as the avatar of Isis if you defeat her in her boss fight.
    Tess: "I am immortal! I AM IMMORTAL!"
  • Too Awesome to Use:
    • Ankhs summon lightning that smites every enemy on the screen, but they're incredibly rare and typically only found hidden in out-of-the-way secret areas.
    • Winged Vessel powers can only be used once, and then they're gone. Winged Vessels can be recharged by picking up a white Rejuvenation Vessel, but these are extremely rare (there are only about two or so in the entire game, one of which is in an extremely hard to find secret area).
  • Universal Ammunition: The Colt Peacemaker revolver and the Tommy Gun both share the same ammo; the devs were apparently unaware that the .45 Colt used by the Peacemaker and the .45 ACP used by the Tommy Gun are not the same round (same diameter bullet, but totally different cartridge).
  • Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Averted. The flamethrower acts more like the Doom plasma gun and a single burst is enough to kill most enemies in the game, and can even take out groups of enemies if they're clustered together. Ammo for it is reasonably available as well. The only real problem with it is that it has trouble firing through level geometry such as over tables or through windows.