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Gadget - Past as Future 

Release date:1998
Developer/publisher: Synergy / Cryo


Game language: German

USK: 6 years and up



A review by   André   04th May 2003


If a game deviates from the normal and proven principle of an adventure game, it does not have to succeed always. And "Gadget" is such an unusual game. Because Cryo (that I'm not always loving) in cooperation with Synnergy Inc. presents itself very experimental. And so I was surprised very much, because the game differs in some points from normal adventures. The artistic aspect is emphasized by the following stylistic features:
Main emphasis is put on on the course of the story and plot in combination with extremely impressive pictures. The puzzles are enriching accessories rather and move into the background. Therefore I would generally call "Gadget" a mixture of adventure, interactive story and work of art. In this case I must say that the experiment quite succeeded.

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First I would like to mention I'm talking about the extended version of "Gadget - Past as Future" from 1998, which was already published in 1995. To what extent the original version was enhanced, I cannot say, since I don't know the original version. Like so often with Cryo adventures  "Gadget" is very mysterious also. At the beginning the story seems kind of confusing, since one gets to know the story bit for bit by numerous persons, who express themselves in few and quite obscure sentences.

But in the course of the game one nevertheless gets more information and a rough outline of the story can be this: You get involved in a secret agent story. From a hotel room you go directly to the railway station. From there you actually only travel with different trains again and again, which carry you to the next lcoations.

While travelling, you get to know from numerous persons that the obscure scientist Horselover Frost works on a secret machine, a kind of ark, and that the earth is threatened by a meteorite. Some work against him, consider him mad and want him to stop. Others regard him as an ingenious scientist. And so you receive always new instructions from those people, leading to the most diverse places and of course to Frost himself.

The whole game works on the one hand very restless, floating and deliriously, on the other hand however you can enjoy the game relaxed in front of the screen, since there is no time limit and no real puzzles.

You are led through a very linear plot and are rather spectator of the very artistic story. The restlessness is caused by the fact that you are constantly in motion. Strengthened by the numerous surrealistic film sequences, often showing driving steam engines, which probably never existed in this form. Thus the game works then like an intoxication or a threatening, unreal dream. The really outstanding graphics strongly support this impression.

The threatening element is reached by the following stylistic features: On the one hand by the characters, who look very rigid and sinister, e.g. when a child with adult and serious facial features appears in an otherwise deserted hall. On the other hand by the outstanding graphics, the gamers walk through by clicking. Here I must quote the blurb, which speaks of a retro futuristic world.

Retro means in this case, that the pictures often reminds me of old propaganda pictures of the Soviet time, strengthened by the red Soviet stars always appearing during the game. Possibly it reminds even of old Nazi films in Riefenstahl-style? I cannot say exactly. (To speak on my own behalf: I consider that propaganda absolutely contemptible, but one cannot deny the artistic talent of the lady.) There are also allusions to Fritz Lang's masterpiece Metropolis. So you can often see large machinery buildings and stations, looking cold, threatening and frightening unreal. Perhaps the game is the visual counterpart to the music trend Industrial of the 80s? One is also confronted again and again with strange machines. If you click on them, impressing, partly psychedelic looking film sequences run off, even more strengthening the atmosphere. This may explain, what means futuristic.

But here and there the story becomes calculable and one knows, what is expected: travel with the train, talk with passengers, step out, admire locations and sequences, enter again and on you go. The game however offers again and again new ideas nevertheless. In any case Gadget is one of those games, unfolding its atmosphere at the best in the evening and in darkness.


There are no real puzzles actually. The gamer is almost exclusively limited, to click through the locations, to address people and serve machines. The machines have some levers, but usually only few of them can be manipulated. You click on them and the rest will happen automatically.

I liked the fact that you can get along the world of Gadget by quite clear perspectives and no interlocking corridors. Likewise there is also no usable inventory. From time to time a suit-case, which we carry with us, appears automatically, and you likewise automatically take the correct object. As said, the game must be understood as interactive story. There are no time limits and also no sudden, unexpected deaths. You can also make no dialogue selections. Very linear.


Speech can be found only in the intro and in few other situations, for example during telephone calls. The dialogues run off by sub-titles. The music and sound are very impressively used. While it is unusually quiet during the normal gameplay in the halls, the movie sequences of the rolling trains or if our hero runs through the corridors, are accompanied by drum rolls or engine noises.


You should save frequently, because between the changes of the four CDs some crashes may happen. I played the game, which was meant for Windows 95 under Windows 98 and "Gadget" ran perfectly. There is a simple point&click control, but no inventory and also no at once recognizable hotspots. But it becomes evident within a short time, where you have to click and actually no puzzle can be overlooked. There are only three save slots, which one can of course overwrite. This is sufficient, because one cannot do much wrong, so that one does not have to load a saved game.


If I would have to rate the game as normal adventure and on the basis of its puzzles and possiblities of action, it would get a lower rating. But I don't have to. I look at the game rather as a marvelous, surrealistic interactive story, to lean back and enjoy the great atmosphere. And it doesn't matter, that it wasn't always clear to me, what the individual characters tried to communicate to me, because the game nevertheless continues thanks to its linearity.

I got the impression that at that time the (relative) young company Cryo aimed at creating a very progressive and experimental game with many details and art, which cannot be compared with the numerous flabby adventures of the newer phase (like the historical adventures of the company, e.g. the frustrating Odyssee). It's an really unusual, independent game with driving plot and very impressing and threatening pictures and film sequences, challenging rather emotions than intellect.  


Rating: 80 %

Adventure-Archiv rating system:

  • 80% - 100%  excellent game, very recommendable
  • 70% - 79%    good game, recommandable
  • 60% - 69%    satisfactory, restricted recommendable
  • 50% - 59%    sufficient (not very recommendable)
  • 40% - 49%    rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
  • 0%  -  39%    worst (don't put your fingers on it)


Minimal system requirements Windows 95:

  • Pentium 133 (MMX-compatible)
  • Windows 95
  • 16 MB RAM
  • 5 MB free disk space
  • 4x CDROM-drive
  • 640 x 480 Pixel HighColor 16bit graphic card 
  • 16 bit sound card
  • Quicktime für Windows Version 2.1.2 (on CD)

Minimal system requirements Power MAC:

  • Power Mac 6100, 7100, 8100
  • System 7.5.3
  • 9 MB RAM
  • 5 MB free disk space
  • 4x CDROM-drive
  • 640 x 480 Pixel HighColor 16bit graphic card 
  • 16 bit sound card
  • Quicktime for Mac Version 2.5 (on CD)

Played with:

  • Win 98
  • Pentium III
  • 64 MB RAM
  • Soundblaster Pro
  • 40x CDROM-drive

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Copyright © André for Adventure-Archiv, 04th May 2003



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