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First Things First

by J. Robinson Wheeler profile

Time Travel
2001

Web Site

(based on 18 ratings)
3 member reviews

About the Story

You’ve just arrived at home from your nightly visit to the science and invention section of the local public library, where you spend each night dreaming your dreamy dreams of one day inventing a time travel machine. Tonight, for some reason, you’re especially fatigued, and can’t wait to get inside and go right to bed. Seems like a good plan, but somehow you have a premonition it’s not going to be that easy...

Game Details

Language: English (en-US)
Current Version: 3.0
License: Freeware
Development System: TADS 2
Forgiveness Rating: Tough
Baf's Guide ID: 1788
IFID: 259BCBB6-E865-BC73-95F3-C28052CF8492
TUID: p4dlfwy4yg6pzdba

Awards

Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Story; Winner, Best Puzzles - 2001 XYZZY Awards

Editorial Reviews

IF-Review
First Reviews First
Puzzly though the game is, I was able to solve the whole thing without resorting to external walkthroughs or hints, which is something I almost never do. I had to ask someone after the fact for some information since I won with less than the optimal number of points, but the fact that I got that far at all is a testament to the fact that the game is designed, if not forgivingly, at least with an eye to being comprehensible. There are many points at which you can lock yourself out of victory. On the other hand, there were few puzzles that left me scratching my head and wondering how I was supposed to have read the author's mind. The game is also developed to provide hints; not only can you ask NPCs about topics and get useful nudges, but they will even occasionally volunteer things unsolicited about problems that you've been bashing your head against. The realism of this effect may vary, but as a piece of game design it's excellent, a sort of in-game adaptive hint system woven into the story.
-- Emily Short
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SPAG
It is refreshing to actually be able to do something about the past instead of being told to accept it for what it is. My only real complaint is that the ending leaves a few loose ends, and I think the environmental tone is a bit too obvious. [...] Anybody who wants a good old-fashioned puzzle-filled IF experience, and has some time on their hands should give this one a try.
-- Adam Myrow
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(9)
4 star:
(8)
3 star:
(1)
2 star:
(0)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The IF time-travel game that most resembles Day of the Tentacle, May 30, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
It continues to surprise me that apparently so relatively few people have played First Things First. It seemingly has everything most players want: a good writer and coder (Wheeler), a fun premise (time travel mechanics), and lots of old-school (but fair) puzzles. It's not overly long or overly cruel. It even starts out like Curses! with some putzing around the house. It's about the most perfect game I've ever played.

The time travel mechanic is just lovely. You get to move between five different time periods over a fifty year period and tinker with things in each time period and see the ripple effects. Puzzles involve messing around with nature and seeing what happens, messing with your house and seeing what happens, messing with the bank and seeing what happens, and finally messing with people and seeing what happens.

There are two separate endings to your messing with the universe. The first one is more of a neutral ending and I was able to complete this path without a walkthrough and I'm a walkthrough kind of guy. The second one is much tougher and has more walking dead situations, but also much more rewarding. And if you just save on the regular, you should never have to replay too many portions as long as you keep going through the time machine and checking your work.

A must-play for those who enjoyed A Mind Forever Voyaging but wanted more agency, or for those who enjoyed LucasArts' Day of the Tentacle but wanted a more serious plot, or for those who just like any time travel game they can get their hands on.

Explore a mid-size map over 5 decades. Well-crafted, great puzzles, May 8, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
First Things First was nominated for an XYZZY award for Best Game, and won Best Puzzles, among others.

In this game that starts out very slowly, you quickly progress to an interesting situation similar to A Mind Forever Voyaging or Lost New York, where you can investigate a mid-size map over 50 years using a time machine. Your actions in certain time periods strongly affect the future in interesting ways.

This is definitely the best long-form time travel I have played, as I felt Lost New York (which explores New York over a century or two) and Time: All Things Come to an End (which explores many epochs in a linear fashion) had relatively unfair puzzles.

IFDB has version 3.0, but the walkthrough is for 1.1, so it didn't work in places. I am a walkthrough junkie, so it was hard for me to beat it, but I was able to guess from the walkthrough what I should try next, and eventually worked my way through it.

The game has good characters, beautiful settings, and a bit of a confused plot, which is natural given the main gameplay mechanic.

For simulation fans, it has an interesting money/bank account/investment system.

Strongly recommended for everyone. (Note: the first area seems incredibly boring, but it gets better and better. I started to like the game as soon as I made it into (Spoiler - click to show)the garage.)

Excellent game, January 11, 2015
Good story, good puzzles, good implementation of verbs, hints are given when appropriate.
Actually, I only have a very small criticism to make: in at least two situations, we can get definitely stuck without knowing it. The first case is when trying to take (Spoiler - click to show)the miracle-grow jugs in the worksheet one by one, then the game only says "you should have done this when you had the chance", but lets you continue, which is ambiguous. More generally, one object is essential to the game, and should not be disposed off too early in the game, which is not very clear at first ((Spoiler - click to show)the wheelbarrow). The second case is when (Spoiler - click to show)you jump into the window without anticipating on how to get out after that. I think it would have been nice if the game had said something like "you should have thought of this before doing that, now you seem to be stuck".

If you enjoyed First Things First...

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Recommended Lists

First Things First appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Big, non-linear adventure games with score system by MathBrush
These are classic-style games, where you have to collect a large variety of objects while exploring a cave or building. My favorite way to play these games is to start playing without hints, mapping out the world and seeing what all I...

Forgotten Treasures of IFDB by MathBrush
These are games that are great, either in my opinion or in many others, but which have been forgotten. By forgotten, I mean it satisfies the following: 1. Not an IfComp or XYZZY Best Game winner, 2. Not in Best 50 Interactive Fiction...

Games of Infocom quality and length (or better) by MathBrush
These are games that are as long as an Infocom game (i.e. Shade would be too short) and are as good quality (so Colossal Cave Adventure, though fun, is out). By quality, I mean the kind of things accomplished by numerous testers: few...

See all lists mentioning this game

Polls

The following polls include votes for First Things First:

Games centered around a "groundhog day" loop by Merk
Two that come to mind, which I haven't played in years and may be remembering wrong, are Moebius and All Things Devours. Games with fail states, by their nature, fit the bill from a mechanical level, but I'm curious about games where...

Games about Time Travel by Estrong157
more specifically, games with time travel as a gameplay element.

forgotten gems by Marius Müller
I'm looking for games that don't show up in the IF histories or recommended lists, for what reason whatsover. Old games that maybe weren't boundary-pushing or noteworthy, but still give you a fun play experience. If you ever thought...

See all polls with votes for this game

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This is version 7 of this page, edited by Edward Lacey on 20 April 2013 at 4:25am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item