One of the most underrated IF titles ever made, t-zero is a great pun-filled game of epic proportions. Long before the advent of Inform and TADS, two popular modern-day IF authoring languages, t-zero featured a powerful and versatile parser that understood hundreds of words. It understands even sophisticated verbs not commonly seen in IF, such as FIND, WHERE, and IMAGINE, the latter which allows you to visualize objects and locations you have not encountered.
The beginning premise of the game recalls Trinity and Curses, two of my favorite pieces of IF, in its ‘twilight-zone’ mood and basic objective. Said objective is to locate six objects "scattered across ages and landscapes", which are to be transported "somehow... to progressively more future time zones where they can right the troubled times.” But before you can say “oh no, not another time-travel game!”, you will soon find t-zero different from any you have played before. It is a heady, literate mixture whose locations seem inspired by Lewis Carroll, premise by H.G. Wells, and puzzles by Terry Pratchett. The result is a wonderful experience you will not easily forget. The puzzles are not hard, but anyone who is not familiar with English idioms or Western pop culture will have a more difficult time than others. The turn-the-stones puzzle and getting across the suspension bridge puzzle in particular are simply ingenious. In short, underdogs in the genre don’t get any better than this, folks. And yes, the game refers to itself as t-zero, without capital letters, apparently to fit in with the many references to T.S. Elliott poems. A must-have!
Note: The game was released in 1991 as shareware, but identical to the registered version, so I took the liberty of labeling it “freeware” here for the sake of consistency.Reviewed by: Underdogs