Time Recoil comes from 10tons, a studio which you might know due to their previous hits such as Crimsonland and Neon Chrome, amongst some other titles. Despite creating games that reach a rather wide range of genres, the studio always focused on top-down shooters and experimenting with a classic formula, and Time Recoil is the evidence of that.
In essence, Time Recoil is a top-down shooter in which the main gimmick of the game is that, with each enemy that you kill, time slows down, allowing you to take even more enemies and use abilities that unlock at a certain kill combo number, such as a dash, which allows you to dash through thin walls and kill enemies as you dash through them, a time freeze, or a psy-blast, which obliterates anything inside a small area.
Like many games in this genre, Time Recoil is a very straightforward game. While the story is clearly not the strongest part of the game, there is a rather substantial attempt in introducing some narrative, through dialogue with characters presented in text form, and also by reading some files in between missions, even though these are very scarce. Still, it falls rather short and, after beating the game, there are no interesting plot twists or any actual story progression that motivated me to keep going forward, that job was for the gameplay, which it did rather well.
Nonetheless, I feel that it’s important to explain what the story is all about, so that people can understand the gameplay loop. The game puts you in the shoes of Alexa, a woman who was a victim of a failed time manipulation experiment, which made her able to travel through time multiple times unharmed, while other people simply die on their second trip. Right in the first few minutes of the game, you learn that most of Europe has been subjugated under the rule of Mr.Time, after he destroyed Paris a few years ago. On that note, you’re rescued by an operative of a rebel group that is trying to stop Mr.Time, but in order for that to happen, they need you to go multiple times back to the past in order to learn more about his evil plans and how you can overthrow him.
This is where you can easily understand how the gameplay loop actually works. As you play the game, you keep going further and further back in time in order to try to stop Mr.Time. This is done through this hub-like area, to which you return after each mission. Here you’ll step into a wormhole, go back in time, clear a building of enemies or gather intel, and then jump back on another wormhole to come back to the present time at your HQ. Rinse and repeat. With that said, the mission structure really is quite repetitive, even though while the objectives of each mission are not exactly always the same, in the end, they all feel very alike.
The thing in which Time Recoil excels is the actual gameplay, how the game feels as a top-down shooter. When I stormed into a room full of enemies it reminded of Hotline Miami quite a lot, mostly because the enemies are very quick to respond to your presence and it’s hard to dodge their bullets in real time. It’s when you get the first kill that things get a lot more interesting, as getting subsequent kills slows down time even more and allows you to pull some pretty cool maneuvers. In terms of weapons, there is a few of them, a basic pistol, a smg, a shotgun, an assault rifle and a RPG, all with limited ammo. Probably the most interesting one of them, and my favourite, is the assault rifle because its shots can pierce through walls, thus providing some interesting tactical approaches to certain situations, especially when dealing with armoured and shielded enemies.
The thing that I think that hurts the game the most is its longevity, you can easily beat the game in less than 5 hours on the hardest difficulty. Still, if you’re into that sort of thing, the game also allows you to replay previous levels in time attack mode. However, when you consider the fact that each mission is pretty short and can be completed in less than than 3 minutes or so, the fact that everytime you die you start at the beginning of the level really works in the game’s favour.
In terms of visuals the game isn’t really anything groundbreaking, but the 70s aesthetic suits the game quite nicely and makes it stand out from other 10tons titles. Still, animations could use some more work, as walking around in whatever direction you choose to looks rather odd and unnatural. In any case, the game deserves to be praised for its soundtrack which is quite nice to listen to.
In the end, either if you’re a fan of previous 10tons games, namely top-down shooters, or if you’re just a fan of the genre, Time Recoil might be a tough one to sell. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good game and it does what it does pretty well but, ultimately, it’s short, and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table other than the slowing down time mechanic, which I’m afraid it might not be worth for some people.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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