Stranded: Mysteries of Time in Review – Lost in the moment…

The AppStore will soon turn 2 years old and has matured enough to see a flurry of sequels start hitting the market. One such game that has recently seen a followup is Stranded! Without A Phone – an interesting and original adventure / RPG game that I thoroughly enjoyed a few months ago. Today, I’d like to welcome Glu’s take: Stranded: Mysteries of Time.

Stranded: Mysteries of Time is a Survival Action / Adventure game with an interesting and quite original backstory. You play a scientist, assigned to a remote world. While completing your research, a mysterious machine appears in the warehouse of the base with a crazy professor claiming to be from a different time. It turns out he isn’t bluffing and you decide to help him to fix the time machine. You jump forward a couple of years in the future and find your science base deserted. Now it’s up to you to investigate the mysterious illness that will claim the lives of your fellow scientists and travel back in time millions of years to find the cure.

Gameplay in Mysteries of Time is a mix of various elements, but most of the time (pardon the pun) will be spent wandering around, collecting stuff and bringing it to various people. And most of that will be done on the planet 65 million years ago. You will collect egg and plant specimens to complete the research. Of course this ain’t easy, as the past is full of dinosaurs who have nothing better than to devour your sorry hide. To protect yourself, you’re issued and tranquilizer gun by the local black market.

The way the game deals with time is interesting. For one thing – the time machine is powered by lumber (Hello Doc Brown and Back to the Future 3), which kind of makes sense but is amusing nonetheless. You have 3 time zones available to you – 2009 (the present), 2011 (the post-disease future) and 65 mln in the past and you move through them with ease costing only a few pieces of lumber. And if you plant the seeds collected in prehistoric past in 2009 you can travel in 2011 to get the fruit/seeds from them to use in the research.

The amount of activities you’ll have to pursue in Mysteries of Time is quite astonishing. Apart from the noted dinosaur-killing and foraging for seeds, you can chop down wood and even fish. The fishing minigame requires patience. Every type of fish (and dinosaur or plant for that matter) has a specific area and time-of-day where and when it’s active – so make sure to study the info in-game. When you are at the desired spot and time of day – just bait the hook and send the line in the water. Once the fish hooks, you’ll have to reel it in, making sure not to pull when the line is red or it’ll snap.

The interface and graphics are where the game really suffers though. It’s easy to notice the game has been originally designed to be a phone game and is poorly suited for the touch screen. The portrait orientation makes it difficult to keep to thumbs on the screen to use the virtual stick and the action button, which are too small anyway. The menu system is awkward, but the graphics quality is more or less reasonable, though the platform could handle much much more.

Stranded: Mysteries of Time is an interesting concept and has quite a bit to offer both casual and die-hard gamers. Unfortunately the poor interface makes playing it a pain rather than joy. The mediocre graphics do little to help. Nevertheless, Mysteries of time has a solid and original story. Some interesting underlying mechanics make it stand out among its mediocre peers, but it won’t be a really worthwhile game until Glu can fix the controls and interface.

With this I declare Stranded: Mysteries of Time officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Stranded: Mysteries of TimeDeveloper: Glu
Reviewed Ver:1.0.1Min OS Req:2.2.1
Price:$2.99App Size:9.3 MB
  • Interesting backstory
  • Varied and original game mechanics
  • Controls very poorly optimized for the iPhone
  • Mediocre graphics

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