First Things First

Author: J. Robinson Wheeler
Year: 2001
Development System: TADS
Cruelty Rating: Tough
Length Of Play: 4-6 hours

My Rating: 10

Awards: Best Puzzles — 2001 XYZZY Awards

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.

2 thoughts on “First Things First”

  1. I have to get back to this. I think this is the one I started. Must play on desktop, playing these text games on phone has been too cumbersome.

    1. Phone is okay for short or simple games but yeah it’s a bear for the hardcore games, especially if you want to make a map.

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