Now, before you jump to all the wrong conclusions let me reassure you. Labyrinth has nothing to do with the film of the same name. There's no crooning thin white duke with a pair of clip-on ears and there's no Muppets with Franz Oz's arm stuffed up their rear portion. Labyrinth Of Time, to use its full title, is like nothing ever to grace the pages of this magazine before.
Converted from the PC by American programmers Electronic Arts, Labyrinth is strictly for the CD32. The main reason for this is the fact that the 3D images and locations you visit in this adventure title are all rendered using 256-colour ray tracing techniques. Before I go any further it's got to be said that the visual aspects of this piece of software are quite literally breathtaking. As far as a game goes these are the best graphics this reviewer has ever seen on an Amiga.
However, being the suspicious pessimistic type, and having seen software before that has had superb graphics but absolutely no depth or playability, judgement remained skeptical until a later point.
The story starts as you make your way home from work. This seems a very depressing point to start an adventure, but I suppose at least it doesn't start before work on a wet Monday morning. Leaving your office, you head through the normal motions and slip into auto-pilot as you wait for your subway train. As usual its late and when you do finally board the train you are given over to a strange sensation.
No, it's not fair dodging or some sicko trying to molest you, it's something different altogether. The next thing that you see is a stranger in very odd attire. It's at this point that you'll need to do some swolting on your Greek mythology, because among this, ancient Mayan culture and the Wild West, the story revolves.
But, mythology first, because the stranger is none other than that famous personality from Greek mythology, Daedalus. Who? I hear scream, Daedalus. Never heard of him? Well, for those of you don't know, and I have to confess he wasn't on my Christmas card list, Daedalus is the person who created the maze on Crete for King Minos.
Although he is long since dead, Daedalus is a prisoner of the king and is being force to construct a new maze which intertwines itself through the fabric of time - heavy stuff hey kids?
Daedalus goes on to tell you that King Minos is the ruler in the land of the dead, and it is his intention to return from the dead to rule over mortals once more. To achieve this unpleasant ambition Minos intends to use the labyrinth's power to reach any place and time in history. Unfortunately for Daedalus he is powerless to do anything to prevent the naughty King from achieving this goal.
This is where you come in. You must help Daedalus and stop the labyrinth's completion by destroying it. Well, beats the boredom and monotony of the old nine to five rut I suppose. So there you are in a subway-train with two exits and a massive 275 plus locations to explore.
Labyrinth must be the most psychedelic game I have ever had the good fortune to see. Not only in its artistic style, but also in the mystical plot it centers itself on and the surreal nature of the locations you visit. We can only speculate on the minds of the programmers who conceived Labyrinth and hazard a shrewd guess that they are arcane remnants of the late 60s who had that little bit too much LSD and now reside in an acid casualty ward.
For example, one moment you are walking through the lobby of an old 19th Century hotel and the next you're in a medieval maze or a cinema lounge. But all this pales into insignificance when you step into the realm of the surreal maze - acid flashback or what?
Labyrinth uses a point-and-click technique to explore the locations. At the bottom of the screen are a set of icons which are responsible for your actions. For instance you can examine items, open and close things and take and move things.
It's reminiscent of the very old school of adventure games which rather than using a party of cliched adventures, use you as the principle character and display your view on the screen. Because of the fact that Labyrinth uses you as the hero rather than a strapping band of do-gooders, there are less controls and statistics to be concerned, or rather confused about.
I have to say at this point that I found Labyrinth totally engrossing and the most involving title that I've had the good fortune to get my hands on. This surprises me to a certain extent as I never thought that this type of title could titillate me as much as it has. One of the main reasons for this is the unusual nature of the plot and some of the bizarre locations that you have to visit. The other thing that strikes you is the fact that there is little or no violence in it at all. In fact, thus far I've not encountered any nasties at all. This is quite refreshing as most adventures cram as many naff skeletons and dumb orcs in to them as possible.
One of Labyrinth's strengths is its story. At the beginning you know very little, but as you progress the plot develops in a very exciting but natural way. This is very cleverly manufactured and adds depth to the play, as the titbits you uncover acts as clues to the solving of the maze.
Also, the puzzles are extremely odd but well thought out and have a nice feel of surreal common-sense about them. At this point an example would be extremely convenient, but I know it would ruin the satisfaction you'll get when you solve them for yourself - honest it's not a lame excuse to cover up for the fact that I didn't solve any.
Graphically Labyrinth is unsurpassable, it just looks the dog's conkers and it's full of nice graphical touches. One such touch within Labyrinth is the fact that you can examine objects by zooming in close on them, revealing them in their full ray-traced glory.
Most of the haunting nature that is captured within Labyrinth is down to the sound track. It's a combination of ambient tunes and the Scotty Doo music, but it works to great effect and really helps generate that all important atmosphere that normally is missed in most games. There are also a great deal of sound effects involved, with the music Labyrinth boasts over 25Mb, even down to the sound of a toilet fusing - don't ask.
The bottom line is that Labyrinth is a superb addition to the adventure genre. It has amazing stylized graphics and a level of depth and playability seldom found in computer games these days. It's great news for punters who've put faith in Commodore and bought themselves a CD32, because this is a title which starts to truly show a little of the machine's capability.
If you own a CD32 I urge you to get down to your local computer emporium and buy this engrossing title, it'll have you grinning from ear to ear in no time.