Past Present is a beautiful game written by Jim Nelson that pulls on the heartstrings. You start alone in a simple house where your marriage has fallen apart, the place is packed up, and you have one hour to pick up your things. Not a lot of time, but she’s coming for her stuff and wants you gone before she gets there. The rooms in this game are deserted and sparse, and you have to wander around a bit before figuring out what is going on. But, it doesn’t take long until you start finding pieces of your life.
The game has an interesting mechanic where you can flip between past and present, hence the name, but it took me a while before I knew what was going on. When you make it to the past, the house is decorated, and you’ll find a few movable objects. As you unlock new things, you get pieces of the story that culminates when you find the final object.
This game is challenging without hints, but I did finish it on my own. It came without a walkthrough or tips to point you in the right direction. So when I got stuck, all I could do was walk away. Also, the layout of the house felt overly simplified. It served the game very well but didn’t feel like it tried to model an actual home.
This game was fun to play through, and I hope it shines some light on TADS. It was written for Winter TADS Jam 2022, and even though it’s the only game released, hopefully, there will be some more fruit from this competition. There are another six games that were being written for it. Maybe some will end up in the IF Comp.
This game is a great example of what TADS can do. It handled most of the stuff I threw at it. But at its core, there’s a story here that needs unfolding. It’s a sad story that I hope is not taken from the author’s life. It makes for a wonderful game the way it’s been implemented. I had fun trying to piece back together his life.