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Video Game / The Labyrinth of Time

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From the ancient past to the distant future. The web of history is the ultimate labyrinth.

The Labyrinth of Time was a 1993 Adventure Game made by Terra Nova Development.

You're an office worker living a dull, dreary life, but on the subway ride home one gray Friday the ghost of Daedalus suddenly pulls you out of the normal world. He explains King Minos has enslaved him to build a Labyrinth even greater than the one he built in the ancient days of Crete. This one bridges time and space, and allows Minos to invade all eras and conquer them with his supernatural powers. Daedalus begs the player to find a way to the heart of the labyrinth and destroy it before Minos can finalize his conquest.

Unfortunately for Terra Nova, they released the game at about the same time as Myst and The 7th Guest, leaving Labyrinth of Time virtually ignored. To this day only hardcore adventure fans are likely to know it even exists.

Currently freely available for Amiga, and available for purchase on all major computer platforms as well as iOS.

The Labyrinth of Time provides examples of:

  • Acme Products: Half of the items you find are Acme brand products, from tools, to paint, and even newspapers.
  • Alien Geometries:
    • The box cover shows an Escher-esque series of arches turned in varying directions, with different time periods inside each one.
    • The Surreal Maze maps roughly to the shape of a sphere despite nothing even remotely suggesting that shape.
    • Individual rooms in the Surreal Maze, however, are symmetrical and highly geometric... just not by the standard of any known geometry.
  • Ancient Tomb: The discovery of King Minos's tomb is critical to the plot. Because of the labyrinth construction, his tomb is now located in a hotel.
  • Backtracking: A heavy chunk of the endgame is this, since adding a bridge piece to the center teleports you to its location, meaning you have to retread through multiple mazes just to add the next piece.
  • Beautiful Void: Even though you enter multiple time periods via the Labyrinth, you never see anyone besides Daedalus. It gets especially jarring when you steal the Mayan Talisman from the Lunar Museum and suddenly hear an intercom voice interrupting the music, and trying to use the teleporter lands you in a jail cell.
  • Bowdlerization: The bit about the legend of the original labyrinth involving bestiality's left out of the article found in the orbital library. In-universe that part's password-locked to spare innocent minds.
  • Chekhov's Exhibit: Played with. The Mayan Talisman doesn't show up at the Lunar Museum until you change history so that Martin Garrett finds it. Then you can steal it.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Discussed for laughs. A newspaper suggests this as an explanation for your missing subway car.
  • Cliffhanger: You thwart Minos' plans by destroying the labyrinth, but are still trapped outside of reality. Since the sequel never came, we'll never know how you find your way back.
  • Cool Helmet: You can find a Roman helmet in the Medieval Maze, and wear it.
  • Dead Man Writing: In the tomb of King Minos, Cornelius Lyons scrawled "ALIVE" on a wall before dying, possibly in his own blood. King Minos wasn't as dead as expected.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Until Daedalus grabs you, everything's gray to show how bored you are with your life.
  • Developer's Foresight: When you start assembling the bridge to the Maze Center, you can see it from every other viewpoint in the labyrinth.
  • Droste Image: Shown on a keycard.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Greek mythology? Yep. Mayan sorcerers? Sure! King Arthur? That too.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Partially averted. Although the game never identifies your character's age, gender, race, or other identifying markers, the introduction pegs you as a white-collar office worker from an American city. So, at least an AFGNP.
  • 15 Puzzle: One of them acts as a door between one of the first areas in the game and one of the last.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: The answer you get if you spend all your quarters in the fortune telling game.
  • Floating Continent: The Maze Center levitates on a chunk of land in the middle of nowhere, and the majority of the game is finding out how and where to access it.
  • Fortune Teller: Morgan, inside the Mirror Maze. His "fortunes" are cryptic hints for the game proper, and they vary depending on your progress. Oh, and they cost a quarter each.
  • The Ghost: You never actually encounter Minos; the most you hear about him is a note in an orbital library after he gives the world an ultimatum.
  • Ghost Town: Revolver Springs, a Wild West town that burned to the ground in an earthquake. The labyrinth connects to it on the day before that happens, which allows you to salvage some local records.
  • Grave Humor: In addition to the comedic gravestones, if you try to "open" a grave, the game warns you that "only mad scientists and archaeologists are allowed to do that."
  • Great Big Library of Everything: Subverted. The Orbital Library is accessed through a single terminal, and because of King Minos's meddling, nearly the entire contents of the library have been deleted, except for a few articles containing clues to a major goal.
  • Hall of Mirrors: The Mirror Maze, complete with an enormous clown head as the entrance, and a sign near it that says "Enter at your own risk."
  • Hell Hotel: A seemingly deserted, unnamed hotel near the beginning of the game. Halfway in, it simply... stops.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Inverted. One of the obstacles the player faces is a road blocked by a constant fall of rocks. They can get past it once, but after that they chicken out trying to cross back without proper headgear. Fortunately, there's a durable helmet on the side they're stuck on. The pith helmet found in Minos' tomb will also let the player cross.
  • Internal Retcon: The librarian notes in his message that the few remaining entries in the Orbital Library were altered when Minos conquered Earth in all time periods using the labyrinth. One still remains in an article about the original labyrinth.
  • It's Up to You: Daedalus explains that due to his spirit being held captive, he can't refuse or leave Minos in building the Labyrinth, which is why you were brought into this in the first place.
  • Jump Scare: The Evil Laugh of the clown at the entrance to the Mirror Maze.
  • Malt Shop: There's one of these among the many incongruous locations in the game. It's sandwiched between the Medieval maze and the Hedge Maze, naturally.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Implied. The fern in the office building snarls if you try to attack it.
  • The Maze: The game is essentially one large maze. The final area, located in the center of the game map, is even called Maze Center. The re-release made this even more explicit by adding "breadcrumbs" you can follow.
  • Missing Secret:
    • Some doors can never be unlocked. Given the game's convoluted layout, this is probably intentional.
    • Useless Items are everywhere, maliciously so. In fact, roughly half the items in the game serve no purpose. The champions of this are the sword (conspicuously placed at the end of a large puzzle, possibly to distract you from the invaluable lantern nearby) and the alien belt (incredibly ornamental and interactive, does nothing).
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Minos destroys all recorded history, as seen when the player tries to access historical articles on a library in the future. But he left one thing, and the fact that it's the only article left will tip off the player to its importance. The article? The history of an ancient ruler with a magic artifact that let him destroy entire buildings...which the player finds and uses to destroy the labyrinth. Whoops.
  • Nobody Poops: If you try to use the bathtub or sink in the hotel, the game says, "This is no time to clean yourself." Although you can flush the toilet.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Spoofed with the sword in the stone. You can pull it out, but there's no use for it.
  • Patchwork World: Parts of the past, present, and future have been jammed together in chaotic ways.
  • Place Beyond Time:
    • The labyrinth appears to be expanding into a void that resembled a sunny, cloud-filled sky. Destroying the labyrinth causes time and space to unravel, leaving you stranded in this cloudy void, outside of existence.
    • The unmade sequel's title implies that this is actually Dream Land.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: Martin Garret's journal updates when you return his lucky shirt, as does a display in the Museum and several entries in the Orbital Library.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: When King Minos erases the entirety of world history and culture instantaneously, the caretaker of the New Worlds Development library is the only one who notices that something has gone awry.
  • Self-Insert Fic:
    • According to an article in a futuristic library, Terra Nova Development (the company that created the game) eventually became the space travel conglomerate New Worlds Development, which set up space stations and moon colonies and essentially controls the world. All in part because of the resounding success of Labyrinth.
    • Turns into Death by Cameo. The library article later mentions the gruesome deaths of the Terra Nova Development team at the hands of an unruly car and a botched teleportation experiment, respectively.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: A large part of the game involves altering history so an archeological expedition that historically failed succeeds instead so that it recovers a magical artifact, allowing the player to steal the artifact so they can use it to destroy the labyrinth.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The makers apparently liked The Wizard of Oz, The Maltese Falcon and the Marx Brothers.
    • There are a good number of self-shout-outs as well. Many environmental details are borrowed from some of the game's artist's earlier works, most notably Amiga Dreams, The Sentinel, and The Skull, the Dream, and the Dancer.
  • Sinister Geometry: The Maze Center building is topped with a striking pyramid fractal. Sure enough, it's the site of the keystone that holds the Labyrinth together (and it's also the game's iOS icon).
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Downplayed. There are a number of inexplicable mazes scattered throughout the game that you are required to complete multiple times. But come on, this is a game about labyrinths.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: Daedelus had to settle for entrusting his mission to stop Minos to some random office worker, who was the only person he could reach.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Used to teleport to the Lunar Museum and Orbital Library. Another, emergency telporter on the latter also links with King Minos' palace.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: In a normal playthrough (without knowing puzzle solutions ahead of time), you need to use two quarters to complete the game. You can get 13 quarters from the payphone in the diner, more than you will ever reasonably need, and still waste all of them and become stuck. To do this, you either need to open and close a money-locked door repeatedly or, after getting the quarters, trek to the other side of the labyrinth and spend them all on the fortune teller. Both options are extremely unlikely unless done intentionally.
  • Unwinnable by Design:
    • Don't use your quarter in the fortunetelling game... make a phone call. Not as bad as it might be since it's so close to the beginning of the game, and especially since the game admonishes you for wasting it.
      • Averted in the re-release. You start with two quarters now!
    • Towards the middle/end of the game, if you enter the Surreal Maze without taking a lantern hidden behind an open door from earlier in the game, you're stuck. This is especially cruel given that the confusing maze is a natural point to stop playing and resume later.
    • The detectives' office contains a key you need to let yourself out of jail after you're transported there for stealing the Sorcerer-King's wand. Without it you're stuck, and there's nothing else in the office you need. And there's no indication that the key to get into the office is where it is, or how to get it.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The ominous Maze Center, which can be seen throughout the game.
  • Walking Armory: You can find numerous weapons like a sword, axe, and six-shooter. Because the game has no enemies, though, they're either useless, or get used in an unconventional way.
  • World of Chaos: The Surreal Maze which defies your map and goes on infinitely unless you can find the one way out.