IF Comp 2013: Trapped in Time (Simon Christiansen)

Trapped in Time is an on-paper choose-your-own adventure about a Danish time traveler. It took me somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes to read through, I think. (This was in multiple sessions, so my tracking is a little more shaky than usual.)

Trapped in Time is a structurally ingenious piece. It uses the old numbered-paragraph system from classic CYOA books to create a time-loop scenario, except that it accounts for player knowledge by periodically giving a number that you can add to your current paragraph number in order to take an additional action. Thus the player goes round and round the same cycle of paragraphs, but on each pass breaks out of the constraints to see a few additional elements of the story, until the whole process reaches a successful conclusion.

Thematically, there’s not a huge amount else going on here — a small number of backstory secrets, but not a lot of character development or emotional impact, because that’s not what the story is aiming for. Mostly the point is to create the experience of a puzzle game within a format that we wouldn’t normally expect to allow for puzzle games. It’s pretty cool how it does this, but likely to appeal most to people for whom formal cleverness is a kind of art form in itself.

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