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Killing Time is a horror-themed FPS video game with Full-Motion Video components, developed by Studio 3DO. Though meant at first as an exclusive for their 3DO Interactive Multiplayer console, it was later ported (extremely different version) to the Windows 95 PC platform in 1996 by Intrepid Software and to the Macintosh when the 3DO system failed to meet sales expectations.
The player controls an Ex-Egyptology Student, trapped on a fictional 1930's version of Matinicus Isle, Maine, within the estate of wealthy heiress Tess Conway. In 1932, during the night of the Summer Solstice. Tess, while attempting to use a mystical Ancient Egyptian Water-Clock which purportedly grants eternal life, vanished, along with many of her society friends. The player's objective is to find, and destroy, the Water-Clock, and discover the secrets of the estate, all while beating back the many horrors that now occupy the island from beyond the grave.
Killing Time despite its general first-person shooter gameplay is unique, especially for its time. Throughout the game the plot is slowly revealed to the player through numerous ghostly cut scenes, all of them performed by a cast of professional actors. Unlike other games that deal in the mythology of other cultures, the producers of Killing Time relayed accurate knowledge of Egyptian lore in the story. Also unique for its time, the game even includes several songs written exclusively for the game along with an impressive sound track.
In Killing Time, the main character is an ex-Egyptology student out to discover the mystery behind a missing Egyptian artifact. The ancient "Water-Clock of Thoth" had been discovered by his professor of Egyptology, Dr. Hargrove, but the artifact went missing soon after a visit by the expedition's patron, Tess Conway. Tess is the rich inheritor of her family's estate on Matinicus Isle, where she keeps her friends, and pawns close by so that she might gain the true power of the Water-Clock. As the game progresses, the player finds out that Tess, has used a number of people to gain what she desires, but at a price. Something went horribly wrong, transforming everyone on the entire isle into either restless ghosts, demons or the undead.
Taken directly from the game's introduction movie:
" I'm off the rocky coast of Maine, heading toward the Island of Matinicus, alone. My Egyptology professor, Dr. Hargrove, was always recounting his trips to Northern Africa, in the 1930's, and his search for a mystical Water-Clock, from the dynasty of the Pharaoh Ramses. The Clock supposedly, had powers to grant everlasting life. Claimed he found it once, but whatever Hargrove found, mysteriously disapeared after a visit by the expedition's patron, Tess Conway. I've picked-up the trail where Hargrove left-off, it has lead me to heiress Tess Conway's island estate. Tess was obsessed with the occult, and her greed drew her towards Duncan DeVries, a debonaire two-bit smuggler. In its heyday the Conway estate hosted wild, extravagant parties. It has been deserted for decades. Tess and her "society friends", disapeared in 1932, on the night of the summer solstice. I'm just getting my first glimpse of the house. The weather's getting worse, but I'm almost ashore. I fear my life may be in danger, but I have come prepared. (sound of shotgun being cocked) Hmmm, that's strange, my watch has stopped. "
The gameplay follows the standard set by most first-person shooters with the player using an assortment of weapons. These include a crowbar, dual-pistols, a shotgun, a Thompson submachine gun (Tommy-gun), Molotov cocktails, a flamethrower, and a magical Ankh which can be used to wipe out many enemies at a time. The game does not come with any form of multiplay. To beat the game one must collect a number of vases spread throughout Matinicus Isle, each containing a symbolic part of Tess Conway's spirit. Unlike other old first-person shooter games, Killing Time 's gameplay requires you to strafe, crouch and jump when necessary.
When Killing Time was released for the 3do the game came as a red CD that read the words "Killing Time" Not long after the release players found a glitch in the game that happens in the clown stage. The camera will become pixalated and obscure the view of the entire area. The company that made Killing Time allowed purchasers to mail them their red copy for a new black copy of the disk. The black version has corrected the glitch but since so little of the purchasers bothered sending in their copy the black version of Killing Time is rare.
- "Tess Conway" (played by actress Lise Bruneau): Inheritor of her parent's wealth as well as The Conway Estate, Tess will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Obsessed with being young and beautiful forever, Tess Conway acquires the ancient Egyptian Water-Clock in the hopes of using it to stop time itself. Tess keeps her most useful pawns close to her on the isle nurturing them with food and drink long enough to gain her truest ambitions. When at last she has the power of the Water-Clock within her grasp, she is murdered, and subsequently activates the Water-Clock too soon, in order to save her life, and curse her killer. This action ends-up trapping all the people on the island, and the timing causes the experiment to go horribly wrong. Tess and her friends become restless spirits while the rest are turned into mindless zombies.
- "Duncan DeVries": Tess' associate, and key to the black market. Duncan is an ambitious bootlegger trying to make a name for himself in the world of crime. His goal to marry Tess in order to acquire her property and wealth, Duncan does whatever Tess asks, in order to gain her favor. With a short temper and a broad mean streak, it's no wonder how quickly he turns to murder when he finds out that Tess has no mind for marriage. With her dying breath, Tess curses Duncan, and possesses his body with the vengeful spirit of Set (Seth).
- "Byron": Tess' Archaeologist friend, Byron falls hopelessly in love with Tess, while helping her to decipher the instructions for the Water-Clock. All his efforts to woo Tess however, are futile of course, and the lonely Byron is reduced to nothing but another hapless pawn in the long run of things. More clever than anyone else however, he knows the true power of the Water-Clock, and keeps it to himself, carefully observing Tess' attempt for immortality so that he might learn from her mistakes.
- "Mike": Duncan's rent-a-cop body guard, Mike follows Duncan around and makes sure everything goes smoothly. Officially the "guard" of the estate, Mike finds himself without much of a job to do most of the time. He appears only once by himself in the game to offer a quick warning to beware of both Duncan and Tess.
- "Robert": Robert has been the Conway's official butler for years, and even goes as far as to reminisce over Tess and Lydia's adolescence together. Perhaps one of the game's only "truly innocent" characters, Robert laments over Tess' transformation after the death of her parents, and keeps a wary eye on Duncan, who he openly distrusts. He is Byron's only friend, and appears often, to offer friendly advice on how to navigate the Conway estate. Robert dislikes what is going on but remains a loyal servant out of honor for the dying memory of the Conway family.
- "Lydia Tweksbury": Tess' childhood friend, Lydia is kept on the isle for mysterious reasons though it would seem as though Tess gains confidence from being two steps ahead of Lydia at all times. Lydia confesses later in the game that she is sick of being in the shadow of Tess and works to bring her whole establishment down from the inside by leaking as much information as she can to Duncan. Both Duncan and Mike grow fond of Lydia during the course of the game primarily because she is physically attractive. All the same she remains miserably trapped on the isle, and spends most of her time drowning her worries in gin.
- "Angela Conway": Tess' niece, this ghost of a young girl appears often in the game to spout cryptic poems, particularly in junctions in the hedge maze. Seemingly wise beyond her years, she understands what must be done and where to go, if one deciphers her riddles.