The Origin of Madame Time by Mathbrush
(IF Comp entry, IFDB)
If you’d like to see the other games reviewed this year, or understand my approach, head to the main page.
The Origin of Madame Time is a short puzzle game set in the Golden Age of comic books. You are Madame Time (real name: Justine Thyme, natch) who discovers she has the ability to stop time. Just as well, since a nuclear bomb is about to go off.
Your job is to wander a time-frozen fun park, gathering up heroes and villains to save from the explosion, using their powers to your advantage. It reminds me of that special effects marvel Frozen Heist, although much, much cheaper to achieve through text. You get to meet heroes like The Alchemist, Squid Kid and The Lenswarden, and there is a neat character notebook that gives you backstory to each character if you look them up. Given there are about a dozen characters in this game, I enjoyed this elaboration.
This is a sequel to another game, but you don’t need to have played it at all. The characters and setting suggest the deep history you might get from a long-running comic book shared universe, but without you needing to have done any homework.
All-in-all there aren’t a huge number of puzzles, but they are mostly fair. If you need help there are two hint systems:
FORESIGHT peeks into the future to give you a hint to the solution state, and
AFTERSIGHT gives a vignette of the current location but in the past, as another indirect hint. This is a great system, with well-written but oblique hints.
My only concerns with the puzzles were the goofy carrying limits, and gathering each and every character at the end is almost busy work. But the writing is charming, the setting is enjoyable, and the polish makes this short romp well worth your time.