Time's Engima by Jim MacBrayne - Review

(Played on Windows - can run on Mac using Wine somehow)
This rather new game from 2020 is a very good old-school puzzlefest with minimal story and a good parser (Infocom-like, quick save/restore but no undo).
EDIT: I forgot to mention that when things are in containers, you must e.g. GET BALL FROM BOX as GET BALL will not be understood.

Following a heated discussion with your old college professor, you are pushed into his “Time Manipulator” and sent to another time an place. You are told to find some evidence of where and when you are before you return. First step is to figure out how to operate the Time Manipulator. After that, you can travel to many known more or less historical places.

All the puzzles are fair, though I needed a single hint from the author. If you type AUTHOR while playing, you will get his contact information. Jim replied very fast in a friendly manner, so you don’t need to worry about that there isn’t a Walkthrough available in case you get stuck. Many of the puzzles are about handling different mechanisms, though more traditional puzzles are present too. From a logical point of view, you may sometimes wonder, how a clue for one time period is to be found in another time period. But that isn’t really the purpose of this game. The purpose is an entertaining puzzlefest. Some might find some of the puzzles too easy but for me, they were just right. I don’t think the game can be put in an unwinnable state, except perhaps if you deliberately leave your light source behind(?)

I completed the game with 250 out of 300 points, so I might have missed something, or perhaps it is just a matter of completing the game with the right set of objects, since there is an inventory limit. As in many games with inventory limits, there is a remedy for that problem, though your inventory limit will not be infinite. While playing this is not a problem at all, as you can have your objects in a central place. But when you reach the end of the game, which objects you bring might be important - I don’t know. I did like the ending, but I was just very much in doubt what it would take to get the last 50 points, so I decided to call it a day when I had read the ending.
EDIT: With a bit more help, I managed to reach the best ending, which is a bit more interesting.

Jim’s style is such, that most location descriptions mention what was once in the location and that most of it is gone when you arrive. Thus, there will only be a few things necessary to examine in each room. Thus you don’t need to examine countless of scenery objects. I like this approach. However, you may sometimes need to look behind or under objects too.

NPC’s are extremely rare and it could have been fun with a few more NPCs, which could also be a little more active.

Nevertheless, this was an entertaining game I recommend if you like old-school puzzlefests.


Good review. Sounds like a fun game. History and brainbreaking. My kinda entertainment.
However… I downloaded it (Windows here) and my computer asks which app. Uhm, I don’t know. What app do I need to run Time’s Enigma?

The game is compressed with “.rar”, which is similar to “.zip” but Windows’ does not have a built-in “un-rar”. So to decompress the file, you need to install a program that can decompress “.rar”-files.

7-zip is quite popular and it is the one I am using: 7-Zip (7-zip.org)

Once you have decompressed the file, the folder contains a windows-executable (.exe) which can run on a Windows-machine. Just double-click on it - you might get a question if you want to proceed, as Windows is always careful when it comes to .exe-files.

BTW, if you don’t like full-screen, you can press ALT+Enter, then the game runs in a window.

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A little bit of news:

Time’s Enigma has been updated today, so that the end game is sufficiently clued. This and four other games by Jim MacBrayne can be downloaded here: Index of /uploads


That might be useful Denk as I always seem to get stuck part way through Jim’s games. I wonder if his house has a lot of broom cupboards and a system of pipes underneath it?

I have finally managed to finish Frustration and The Holy Grail wioth minimum help from the author. These are excellent old school games. I found the “getting into the castle via the drawbridge” puzzle from Holy Grail and the “bypass the vampire” puzzle from Frustration particularly elegant.

I am currently attempting an older game by Jim, Excalibur via the C64 Vice emulator. This one is a real biggie weighing in at 267 locations and two pretty nasty one-way mazes, a dark forest and a cornfield right at the beginning.

I believe he is currently working on a new game named Uncle Mortimer’s Secret which I have had a sneak peek at in its embryonic form.