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A jam submission

The Time Machine v1.0View game page

Submitted by Bill Maya — 3 days, 7 hours before the deadline
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The Time Machine v1.0's page


CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Writing (General Quality)#34.0424.042
Help, Hints and/or Instructions#43.9173.917
Presentation (Text, Graphics & Sound)#53.5423.542
Story (Plot, Setting & Objective)#53.7083.708
Overall Rating#63.5833.583

Ranked from 24 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Overview of Game
This eponymous game is a sequel to H.G. Wells' The Time Machine— his Victorian science fiction novella. Can you solve the mystery of your friend’s delusions or will you be confined to the asylum with him?

Requirements to Play
Game file can be played in-browser or downloaded and played with compatible software (see web page for details).

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Spoiler-free review

A short game with fantastic writing and an evocative world. I know nothing about the original novel and probably missed a bunch of references, but I sure liked what I saw.

Contains psychiatric violence, with the worst of it in the intro and some mentions later.

Most of the plot is set in an ordinary house, which I think was the wrong choice: it’s the most overdone IF setting, and pales in contrast to the gorgeously described future.

The game is full of red herrings, and Cruel on the Zarfian scale. It’s not only possible, but slyly encouraged, to get stuck permanently. I keep waffling on whether that’s a good or a bad thing: I think some tricks feel like part of the world and make the game deeper, but others feel artificial and frustrating.

The hints are very complete, and help alleviate this. I really appreciated them.

The implementation is somewhat buggy (and no testers are listed in the credits). I assume the author ran out of time — I wish ParserComp deadlines were longer.

Detailed feedback with spoilers

Softlock & red herrings

I don’t mind the possibility of getting stuck, but the two causes of it seem unfair. Mrs Watchett suggests that we put the watch on the desk. Once this is done, it becomes fixed in place, even though there’s no reason we couldn’t pick it back up. The default “That’s hardly portable.” message is also inappropriate here.

Even if we could go back to fetch the watch, the fuse burns out after one round trip. This is more justified, but still, fuses can be bought (even in 1895), or we could even short it with the metal key in a pinch. This problem would work fine as a puzzle, but as a permanent lockout condition, it’s unrealistic.

I very much enjoyed the tunnels and the chandelier, those feel like natural parts of the world and they’re fun to explore. The controls in the machine are in the middle: they’re interesting scenery, but it’s frustrating to try to guess the verb and realise that everything except one button is decorative.


It’s possible to take the coals out of the fire. They’re listed in the inventory as “a coals”. The description still says they provide light, but they don’t.

The river-things are missing a description.

Unimplemented objects:

  • horses drawing the ambulance
  • dome/portico/building/column
  • people/figures seen from the balcony
  • bushes on the river bank

Unimplemented actions:

  • push/pull panel
  • press switch
  • hit [something] with [something]: the action exists but the response is empty
  • going up from the top of the shaft: should be synonymous with going out


  • unclosed quote in description of the player
  • “Imperceptabley”
  • “That really woudn’ accomplish anything productive.”
  • “I don’ see”
  • “The entrace”
  • “Wells” story”
  • “prescence”
Developer (1 edit) (+1)

Hawkbyte -

Thank you for taking the time to play and review "The Time Machine."

I'd be interested in hearing more about what tricks "feel like part of the world and make the game deeper," which "feel artificial and frustrating," and which you feel are "red herrings." This is my first game and I'm trying to learn. Please feel free to email me about this topic at instead of posting here (I don't want to spoil the game for anyone who hasn't played it yet).

I am working at making Wells' house less "ordinary" since he is supposed to be an inventor of somewhat eclectic pursuits (the orrery was a start and I have other devices planned). I chose the house because, quite simply, I had to start it somewhere and I felt dropping the player directly into the world of 802,701 would be too jarring and confusing.

I did have two rounds of beta testers and multiple beta testers in each round (7 in round 1; 5 in round 2). The games is as good as it is because of their efforts. Forgetting to mention them in some sort of game credits was an unfortunate omission, one that I will rectify in the next release (I did thank them personally and in my beta post on the IF forum, but not by name since I didn't want to break their anonymity without permission).

Putting the watch on the desk and not being able to take it again. My fault, caused by a last minute change that I didn't adequately test. Having Mrs. Watchett suggest you put the watch on the desk was unintentional, not me trying to be cruel.

I've removed the fuse-burning-out logic. I had reasons in there for putting it in initially, mainly to get the game to its end state, but now I realize that it would be better for the game to remove this constraint (but I may reintroduce it since, as you wrote, coming up with a substitute fuse might be an interesting puzzle).

I worked and reworked the controls in the time machine several times and I'm not 100% satisfied with the result that appears in the game. I had to let the player travel forward to 802,701 but I couldn't give them free reign to wander through the eons. I will have to rework this to make things clearer.

I plan on publishing a post-ParserComp version soon after the contest ends and I've added your list of unimplemented objects and actions to my To Do list. I've already fixed the typos you mentioned thought I couldn't find 'The entrace' and 'Wells" story' (I will keep searching for those two).

Thank you again for your kind words.


I really enjoyed this.  It's a very vivid, compelling world that drew me in and left me wanting more.

Is it possible to download this game or can it only be played on the itch site?


Clicking the “Run game” link takes you to an Inform-generated site that has a download link.

coooooooool. thx!