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Video Game / Titanic: Adventure Out of Time

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A race to alter history on a ship OUT OF TIME.
"The past, forever locked in regret. But what if the past could be changed?"

Titanic: Adventure Out of Time is a somewhat obscure point-click adventure game from 1996 set on the Titanic. You begin the game as Frank Carlson, a disgraced British ex-secret agent currently not enjoying retirement during the London Blitz of World War II, having been fired over failing his duty to uncover a conspiracy upon the Titanic thirty years ago. As he wistfully ponders upon his failure, his apartment is hit by the blitz, and he burns to death. Oh, well.

But wait, there's more! Carlson has been given a second chance by unseen forces to travel back in time to the Titanic, on that fateful night when it sank, in order to complete his mission. Despite not understanding how he's managed to return back to the past, he must now strive to set things right and, by completing his mission properly, change the future for the better. Literally.


Set within a first-person perspective similar to that of Doom, you must navigate across the Titanic obtaining stolen items that you and your contact have been sent to recover, as well as deal with various other little objectives from both friends and mutual interests. In the end, you must escape the ship with all of your assigned objective items either intact with you or in someone else's good care, before the ship itself meets its fate. The game has a similar style to (and seems to take place in the same universe as) Dust: A Tale of the Wired West from the same company.

Because the game was released just before the 1996 miniseries, it holds the honor of being the first fictional depiction of Titanic to show the ship splitting in two before she sank.


This game provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Close inspection of the subtitle files on the first disc reveal that two scenarios were cut from the sinking levels; one where you helped the photographer get his wife onto a lifeboat, and one where you somehow manage to get a ship to reach the Titanic before it sinks.
  • Alternate History: What the game essentially becomes, as well as six of the game's endings.
  • Alternate History – Nazi Victory: 3 of the endings have Nazi Germany defeat the United Kingdom, resulting in the protagonist either being summarily executed in his house by the SS, or London being bombed with one of their nuclear devices.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The game begins in 1942, the 30th anniversary of the sinking. However, it is also stated to be the Blitz, which concluded in 1941.
    • Frank has a dinner menu in his cabin, suggesting that he's had all his meals delivered to him while he waited for his contact. However, Titanic did not have room service in the modern sense; passengers had to go to the dining saloon or the Á la Carte restaurant for lunch and dinner.
    • Willi is killed in the Turkish Bath, which was only open to men until 6pm. In fairness, Smethells does say how unusual it was to use the bath at such a late hour.
    • In a crossover with Gameplay and Story Segregation, both the player (first class) and Penny Pringle (second class) are able to access areas they would never have been allowed to. Penny is first met in the gymnasium (first class only) and the player has free access to almost everywhere on the ship, including the wireless, engine and boiler rooms, where no matter how many favors a passenger did they'd never be permitted to access.
      • And for that matter, two of those locations (the bridge wheelhouse and the wireless room) were occupied for most of the time leading up to the sinking, whereas when the player visits them they are completely deserted. This makes even less sense for the wireless room because it's stated in-game that outgoing passenger messages are backed up and yet nobody is working on the backlog.
      • In the final part of the sinking, the boat deck is nearly empty except for the remaining characters and a handful of background figures, nowhere near the 1,500 people who were still on board at that point.
    • Two of the bad endings, namely the "Nuclear Germany" and the "Communist Germany" endings.
      • In the Nuclear Germany ending, WWI never happens but Hitler still takes power in Germany after launching a successful coup against the Kaiser, and developing nuclear weapons. This is extremely implausible because without WWI Hitler would not have gone into politics, and even if he did develop his worldviews, the conservative factions and the army would stop him dead in his tracks.
      • The Communist Germany ending envisions a scenario where the Spartacists took power in Germany in a world where neither Nazism or USSR came into existence after World War I. However, it is highly unlikely that the Spartacists had a chance at taking power, and without the aftershocks of the Russian Revolution, they might have even less chance of success.
    • The painting is a real one that Hitler 1914, two years after the sinking.
    • The notebook containing the names of top Bolshevik leaders is also a case of this. The Russian government at the time was already very much aware of who Lenin and Trotsky were, and as a result they were both in exile abroad during the sinking of Titanic. Stalin, meanwhile, was only a minor party official who wouldn't rise to prominence until after the Revolution. In addition, the individual in the photograph identified as Trotsky is actually Mikhail Kalinin. Finally, the picture of a supposed Russian revolutionary being killed is actually of a Volkssturm officer from the end of World War II.
  • Artistic License – Ships: Despite much of the research that was put into the Titanic, there's still a number of artistic decisions that were made.
    • There was no control room between the turbine room and the engine room, only the watertight bulkhead.
    • The corridors on board were much narrower.
    • Sasha's cabin, A-14, is equipped with windows, even though it was an interior cabin.
    • The ship's cargo is depicted being kept in store rooms, which was not the case.
    • The Grand Staircase from D Deck to E Deck goes through a door, when the real staircase was open.
    • Lifeboats 15 and 16 (the last boats for starboard and port, respectively) are swung out during the final hours before the collision. Only Lifeboats 1 and 2 were kept swung out; this was so they could be quickly launched if someone fell overboard.
    • Collapsibles C and D were kept next to Lifeboats 1 and 2, respectively, but are absent. In addition, Collapsibles A and B do not appear to be visible on top of the officers' quarters.
    • Boiler Room 6 is not present in the game.
    • The wireless room was located in the center of the officers' deckhouse, and was not immediately accessible from the boat deck.
  • As You Know: Smethells helpfully reminds Frank that his trunk and belongings are in his cabin, where he's been for the entire voyage.
  • Avoiding the Great War: The player must recover four items from the Titanic before it sinks. Two of the items recovered prevent the Black Hand from getting funds, and thus World War I never happens. Of course, depending on if you recover the other two items, this will impact how well Hitler, the Soviets, or in one ending, Commie Nazis do thirty years later.
  • Bag of Holding:
    • Your bag, obviously.
    • The Purser also becomes this; he will store any items you want to give him. This is useful when you want to hide away any items you DON'T want stolen off you, such as the Rubaiyat.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Frank Carlson, since you're essentially changing the course of the 20th century and beyond through his actions.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Even though it’s not immediately obvious, it’s arguable that the so-called “worst” ending - I.E, where Frank utterly fails to get anything from the Titanic and history ends up proceeding as it actually did - is actually one of these. In real life, the old monarchies were overthrown, the Nazis were defeated, and the USSR eventually collapsed. Every other ending results in most of Europe in the grip of Fascism or Communism. One of them even has the Nazis dropping a nuclear bomb on London.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The two main antagonists, Zeitel and Vlad, each have their own agenda and goals. Thwarting them is key to changing history.
    • Vlad needs something to finance the Black Hand's terrorist attacks on Austria. His original plan is to exchange a painting made by a young Adolf Hitler for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam from Colonel Zeitel and sell it for the funds, but he'll settle for the Lambeth Diamonds instead if he can get his hands on them.
    • Zeitel seeks to get his hands on the painting not for its artistic value, but rather for a more practical purpose: the rear of the painting contains secret plans detailing British troop deployments and positions in northern France and the Low Countries, which would be invaluable tactical information in the event of a war breaking out.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: If you ask Smethells for help, he gives you technical information as to how the game mechanics work.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The tarot card of "La Morte" in your apartment can become this if you play for it with Buick Riviera when the Titanic is going down.
    • Also, Lady Georgia Lambeth's diamond necklace. It's a fake, but it can be swapped for the real one.
  • Commie Nazis: One ending has communists instead of the Nazis rising to power in Germany. Later on, the rest of Western Europe during the Great Depression is conquered by them, eventually resulting in the protagonist getting executed by them once they take over Britain.
  • Controllable Helplessness: If you fail to leave the ship in time (see Timed Mission).
  • Cosmic Keystone: The painting, the notebook, the Rubaiyat, and the diamond necklace are all absolutely vital in obtaining for the best ending, for the sake of the future. Each of these objects are directly linked to a major war of the 20th century.
    • Obtaining the painting prevents World War II because the painting was made by Adolf Hitler, and the following fame from his painting surviving the Titanic will encourage him to not become a bitter dictator.
    • The notebook contains a list of anti-Czarists, and as such will prevent the Russian Revolution.
    • The real necklace taken from Georgia Lambeth, if not taken back from Sascha Barbicon, will be used to fund the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, causing the First World War.
    • The Rubaiyat, if it falls into Vlad's hands, results in the funding of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the same as if the player had failed to retrieve the necklace.
  • Damsel in Distress: Lady Georgia Lambeth.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mr. Gorse-Jones. His wife tries to be one, with mixed results.
    "How are you getting on?"
    "Getting on? We used gangplanks as I remember."
    "Quick as a cow, she is."
  • Deal with the Devil: What obtaining "La Morte" is portrayed as by Riviera and the sailors.
  • Eagleland: Max Seidelmann is a mixture between the two. He's a boastful gambler, a smoker and a very rich businessman, but he's willing to help people out.
  • Emergency Temporal Shift: The game begins with disgraced British secret agent Frank Carlson finding himself on the receiving end of a bombing run during the Blitz, and apparently escaping death by a freak accident that sends him hurtling back to April 14th 1912, where he has a second chance at the mission that ruined his life - assuming he hasn't literally died and been reincarnated as his younger self or something. Should you screw up the mission this time, you won't get any second chances - you'll just get killed in the Blitz... or a takeover by the Nazis, the Communists, or an atomic bombing.
  • Evil Gloating: Colonel Zeitel just can't resist a session of monologuing on top of the smokestack.
  • Everybody Smokes: Not even counting the Smoking Room area of the ship, pretty much 1/3 of the characters you meet seem to have a cigarette glued to their hands. Truth in Television, as smoking was far more common in the 1910's
  • Exposition Fairy: Leyland Trask, who is surprisingly not a Phony Psychic and is able to give you hints about where you should go next — providing you have an item to show him for a clue.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Any male character not on a lifeboat by the end of the game calmly waits around the aft Boat Deck for the inevitable. The exception being Andrew Conkling, who panics and tries to buy his way onto a lifeboat, and gets shot and killed by Third Officer Morrow for his troubles.
  • The Fashionista: Since it's the Titanic, first class is going to have a lot of, well ... class. But the winner has to be Beatrix Conkling with her garish pheasant hat and swirling blue silk.
  • Futureshadowing: This is the entire reason Leyland Seychum Trask exists.
  • Gambit Pileup: Vlad is trying to gather funds to finance the Black Hand's terrorist attacks on Austria, Sasha plans to do the same but keep the funds for himself, Colonel Zeitel is trying to acquire troop movement plans for the German High Command, Willie plans to use the list of the Bolshevik exiles he and Zeitel are encouraging and turn them in to the Russian secret police, Charles Lambeth is trying to get revenge on his wife for her affair with Sasha and settle his debt with Andrew Conkling, Andrew Conkling is attempting to retrieve a career-ruining letter from his former maid Shailagh Hacker, Shailagh is trying to keep her baby from being stolen by Beatrix Conkling because the latter is barren, her brother Jack is trying to get $5,000 from Andrew in exchange for the letter so he and Shailagh can get a new start in the United States, and on top of that are Frank Carlton and Penny Pringle trying to complete their mission from the British Secret Service, with Frank attempting to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: How Frank originally failed his mission. He remained in his cabin for the entire voyage, waiting for a message from his contact. But Penny wasn't able to locate him until the night before the sinking. By the time she sent her message, Frank had already left to meet Georgia.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The fight with Vlad in the boiler room is nothing but straight-up pugilism, at least until after knocking him out, when you try to head back through the boiler room and he bludgeons you with a Wrench Whack.
  • Good Shepherd: Reverend Edgar Trout, returning from a religious mission in Nyasaland. He refuses to leave the ship while there are women and children on board and as such, goes down with the ship dutifully consoling the doomed passengers until the very end. He also confesses to the player that he actually bought his ticket for the Titanic by siphoning funds from the mission in Nyasaland.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Averted, for poor Haderlitz.
  • Happily Adopted: What happens to Shailagh Hacker's baby if you give him to Beatrix Conkling.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sort of. If you talk to Beatrix Conkling for a second time after retrieving baby Eddie from her, she tells you that you did the right thing in returning him to his true mother.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Smethells, the steward, is the game's guide to everything about both your interface and the Titanic's layout.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: During the sinking, Jack Hacker reveals to you that he turned down a place in a lifeboat — offered to him by no less than Captain Smith!
  • Historical Fiction: Obviously, the plot of the game never happened in real life.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Adolf Hitler receives this, if you manage to recover the painting.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: During the last chapter, Zeitel demands you hand over the painting in exchange for the antidote to save Georgia Lambeth.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: If Frank does not swap the fake diamonds for the real ones in Sacha's safe, he can use the map to teleport out of the cabin and avoid getting shot by him.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: For a colonel, Zeitel's a poor shot, as you may find out first-hand up in the smokestack. His aim improves considerably, however, if you refuse to trade the painting for the antidote to save Georgia.
  • Killed Off for Real: Aside from everybody who went down with the ship, three people don't even get that far:
    • Willie von Haderlitz is electrocuted in an electric bath after Zeitel sabotaged it.
    • Sascha Barbicon is murdered by Vlad in the boiler rooms as the ship sinks.
    • Andrew Conkling is shot and killed by Officer Morrow for attempting to bribe and force his way onto a lifeboat during the sinking.
  • Kubrick Stare: Vlad Demonic's got one, and he never lets up on it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Reverend Edgar Troutt siphoned the funds from his mission to earn passage on the Titanic. Regardless of what happens, he sinks with the ship. He fully believes that God is now punishing him for his misdeeds.
    • Beatrix and Andrew Conkling for orchestrating a dastardly plot to conceive and steal an heir through their unwitting maid Shailagh, supplying poor quality steel for the Titanic's hull, which no doubt lead to it's easy puncture via the iceberg, and generally being cruel and unpleasant people who use their money and influence to try and get anything they want, finally have their karma catch up to them when, during the sinking, Andrew is shot and killed for attempting to bribe and force his way onto a lifeboat, leaving Beatrix (who had earlier stolen Shalaigh's baby from her, giving it back up only when threatened with the letter's publication) without a baby and without a rich, influential husband to get her way through.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Buick Riviera is a character taken from Cyberflix's previous game Dust: A Tale of the Wired West. He says you look familiar and asks if he's met you before. One possible response is "Yes, we met at the Hard Drive Saloon". From an in-universe perspective, this makes no sense since Dust was set in 1882 (30 years earlier) and involved a completely different protagonist. The implication is that he recognizes the player and therefore may be aware of his status as a character in a video game.
  • MacGuffin: First the Rubaiyat, then the painting, then the notebook become this. Another item, the necklace, at first looks like a side-quest, but is absolutely vital in obtaining.
    • Neither the Rubaiyat nor the necklace need to leave the ship. Either can however be used to play a high-stakes game with Buick Riviera for the La Morte tarot card. The best ending requires you to obtain the painting, the notebook, the Rubaiyat, and the real necklace — or at least keep the last two out of the villains' hands.
  • Maybe Ever After: One of the stokers (talking with any of them brings up the same person) implies that he's in or pursuing a relationship with Shailagh Hacker, but the game endings make no mention of whether he survived the sinking and got together with her.note 
  • The Mole: Willie von Haderlitz, for Tsarist Russia. When his boss Zeitel finds out, it doesn't end well for him.
  • Motor Mouth: "But my dear it's Daisy Cashmore, don't you remember me, I simply must tell you the latest news about-OH can't talk there's the Gorse-Jones waddling away, ta-ra dear!"
  • Mrs. Exposition: Penny Pringle, your contact onboard the Titanic, relays you information on what your current objectives are.
  • Multiple Endings: The best ending is a perfect future without World War 1, 2 or the Russian Revolution. The worst ending is you drowning with the ship. With every other ending in between, you will die in your apartment from either the Blitz (again), Nazis (either their execution squads or one of their atomic bombs being dropped on London), Soviets, or Commie Nazis.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Vlad Demonic.
  • No Swastikas: In the German release, references to Adolf Hitler were removed. This proved difficult as Hitler turns out to be a crucial plot point, and several of the endings involve the Nazis conquering Europe.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Third Officer Morrow, a veteran of the Second Boer War and one of the nicest folks on the ship, right to the very end.
  • One Degree of Separation: Zeitel, Carlson's target, is working with Sascha Barbicon, who was having an affair with Georgia Lambeth, who was previously Carlson's lover before marrying Charles Lambeth. Charles owes Andrew Conkling money. Conkling employs Carlson to track down and retrieve a letter from his former maid Shailagh Hacker, who is travelling with her brother Jack, who takes care of a painting that von Haderlitz, Zeitel's travelling partner, stole from the cargo hold (if the player doesn't get there first).
  • Poison-and-Cure Gambit: Zeitel will reveal he poisoned Lady Georgia and offers to trade Carlson the antidote for the painting.
  • Red Herring:
    • Despite being quite a prevalent storyline, what happens to Shailagh Hacker's baby has absolutely no effect on what ending you get, other than a small note of what happens to the baby in the ending. However, if you don't have the painting at that point, Jack Hacker will have it, and trade you it for getting the baby back.
    • The prayer card from the Reverend Edgar Trout is only useful at one point: to get a picture from Eric Burns about Willie being up on the last smokestack, hiding his notebook. However, since you need to learn about it from Max to actually go there, it's a useless quest.
    • Carlson's secondary target, the troop movement plans. If the painting survives the sinking, Carlson will mention that the plans hidden within it would prove useless anyway because they were scrapped to cut costs shortly afterwards.
  • Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: If you escape with the painting, it's revealed that it was actually made by Adolf Hitler. Being the only artifact of significance to survive the sinking, it makes him a world-famous artist instead of a bitter fascist dictator.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Fatally averted with Andrew Conkling, who tries to bribe his way onto one of the lifeboats.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Your entire objective basically, and also the best ending of the game.
  • Shout-Out: If you meet Max Seidelmann on the A-Deck promenade before going to see Penny in the gymnasium, he'll sarcastically say "It's a night, all right. A regular night to remember."
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Frank Carlson was an actual passenger on the Titanic, but he was not a secret agent. He actually never made it onto the ship due to a delay, but his name is still in the passenger register.
    • There actually was a copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam aboard the Titanic. It wasn't "priceless," but still a very expensive special edition of the English translation decorated with gems on the leather-bound cover. It still remains lost to this day.
    • The final sinking animation was so detailed (given the graphical limitations of mid-1990s home computers) and so faithful to actual accounts of the sinking that clips from it were used in several documentaries about the Titanic.
    • Willi tells Zeitel that his telegram didn't get sent because there's a backlog. On April 13, the wireless set broke down and Operators Phillips and Bride spent several hours repairing it. This resulted in a severe backlog of messages that they were trying to clear on the night of the sinking.
    • Somewhat averted by a few errors concerning the layout of the ship, such as most of the first class public rooms in the game actually being borrowed from the Titanic's sister ship Olympic, or the fact that the control room seen in the stern did not exist. Also, the real ship's Third Officer was named Pitman, not Morrow, and survived the sinking. But considering everything else it got right, it's forgivable.
  • Sinking Ship Scenario: The last part of the game is set around trying to escape the doomed ship with all the required macguffins.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The "Nuclear Germany" ending has Nazi Germany managing to create an atomic bomb early (the late 1930s to be exact). It's also implied they've also had the means to create a bomber that can carry it and attack targets at long range, Britain included.
  • Sword Fight: At one point, you get to fence with Willie von Haderlitz.
  • Take Your Time: Played straight; until the last part of the game, time doesn't progress unless you trigger specific events. You can develop photographs, follow the trail of a mysterious letter, and even befriend a stoker, but none of this will change how you finish your main quest, except for the fact that if you take too long to reach the painting, Haderlitz will have taken it out of its frame and given it to Jack Hacker.
  • Timed Mission: In the last part of the game, you have until 2:00am to find all of the items you've been looking for, and escape the sinking Titanic upon a lifeboat. If you don't reach a boat by then, you will be left behind to eventually drown with the ship itself and everyone else still on board.
    • Not only is this rather realistic as the last lifeboat from the actual Titanic was launched around 2:00am, but also, like in the game, it took several minutes for the ship itself to actually sink after that. Just like in real life, you will drown with the ship at 2:10am. Yes, the game actually gives you full control of yourself to try and run all over the ship while waiting for your inevitable fate.
    • The sinking sequence is interspersed with short 'time is passing' cutscenes, showing that the locations of key items (whether you obtained them or not) are now inaccessible.
    • A minor one occurs before the sinking. After being told to get the painting by Penny, Frank has roughly ten minutes to get into the cargo hold before it's reclaimed.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You don't need to find and rescue Shailagh Hacker's baby or save Georgia Lambeth. But if you can get more people off this ship, why shouldn't you?
  • Wrench Whack: After knocking out Zeitel and getting the notebook, you go down the funnel only to come face-to-face with Vlad, who regained consciousness. He immediately hits you with a very large wrench, and then takes the notebook. You get knocked out and wake up back in your cabin.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • Generally averted with this game, except for the fact that no matter what you do, you will never be able to prevent the Titanic from sinking. Returning Morrow's binoculars to him will draw out a comment that he hopes Fleet has another pair up in the crow's nest. Even if you go into the bridge and turn the wheel yourself, the most that you'll do is get kicked out and the ship being put back on course.
    • This is also true for Andrew Conkling. No matter what he does, he's always doomed to die; either by being shot in the last hours or by being trapped aboard the Titanic when all the boats are gone.

Video Example(s):


Communist Germany.

In this scenario, it's the German Communists who rise to power in post-WWI Germany instead of the Nazis. Like in our world, however, the German communists decide to begin their own conquest of Europe, with the protagonist being executed by them once they conquer Britain.

How well does it match the trope?

3.33 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / CommieNazis

Media sources: