Trapped in Time

I admit I had my doubts when I came to this one. Part of the point of doing this electronically is so that one doesn't have to do all that physical flipping back and forth through the pages -- the computer jumps from paragraph to appropriate paragraph for you. As I got deeper into the story, though, the reason for the format began to make itself clear, and I must say that I think it quite clever.

See, part of the problem I have with online bookstores and reference resources is that one no longer has the option of idle browsing. You can't put down a book and pick up another one at random, nor can you just move on to the next alphabetically listed encyclopaedia entry. You can't really find things unless you're looking for them.

"Trapped in Time" allows you to browse. Since the story exists in a sort of neverending loop -- most branches simply lead back to the first paragraph -- you can actually jump to another paragraph, skipping sections that you don't care to reread, without consequences. There are no stats to track, so your experience of any one paragraph is not going to change no matter how much new information you may have gathered elsewhere.

Speaking of new information, the game handles this by telling you that you can use it by adding amounts to paragraph numbers. Add 10 to the paragraph number when next you meet this NPC if you want to use this new information there. Or add 20. And so on. And if you happen to remember the relevant paragraph number, you can go there right now and add whatever to go to a previously inaccessible paragraph. It's as though every passage were a savegame that somehow, inexplicably, progresses with you, in defiance of all definitions of the term "savegame".

It's very clever and it made me sit back in surprise. Points for that.

The story itself is similar in flavour to a lot of the science-fiction CYOA books. There is that sense of wonder, of being in a place that most of your peers could only dream of. I did enjoy the twists and developments; and it's nice to see this sort of story in a setting that isn't British or North American. The most impressive thing, though, is that the entirety of the story -- twists and turns and all -- could be compacted into a mere 73 sections. And some of those sections weren't even available as part of the story proper!

As a breakfast, this would be lunch. Lunch in a small little bento box, efficient and surprisingly filling.