Man, when 10tons decides they like something, they REALLY like it. This is the third Switch title I’ve reviewed by them in recent memory, and I have the mind of a goldfish (four, I forgot they also did Sparkle 2). The company is going whole-hog into putting their titles onto the Nintendo Switch, and I can’t say I blame them. Their games have gotten some, but not all, the attention they deserve on the Steam storefront, and having a dedicated fanbase of gamers who may be experiencing their titles for the very first time means catering and really giving their all while the iron is hot. The Switch is past the half year mark, and we’re rocking towards the holidays where Switch owners are going to increase dramatically and even bigger, crazier titles are on the horizon.
But 10tons also really loves topdown shooters, and I can’t blame them for that. The twinstick interface is awesome and one of my favorite ways to play games for the newer generation. They started out with Neon Chrome, a roguelike cyberpunk option that still grabs my attention and a bit of play every few days. Then came JYDGE, which was a prequel sequel, with more progress and action, some great customization but less personality in terms of ambition scope (but some great comic book influence). Now we’re here at Time Recoil, a full departure from the previous two in terms of setting and art style, and easily one of the more hectic and tense games I’ve played.
The story, first and foremost, is campy and borders on silly. You’re a dude who’s a guinea pig for a nefarious man named Mr. Time (whose portrait looks like if MC Frontalot had just a rough week of no sleep). Mr. Time controls the future as a dictator and a mad scientist. You apparently survived the experiments and now can move freely between time without exploding, which is a big deal. Recruited by the rebellion,.you become their go-to fixer, someone who’s going to travel back to various points, try to undo some of the mess and make a better future for everyone. At the very least, hopefully Mr. Time changes his name to anything else, because that’s some PBS kids level of silly villain name.
Time Recoil already has the idea of shooting and moving down pat: 10tons has mastered the simple stuff, being quite on point with gun acquisition, accuracy and learning how to run and gun at the same time. But the time factor creates some new and fancy move contingencies that you won’t find in any other of their games. Kill one person, time begins to slow down. You’re not invincible: you simply are moving at normal speed while everyone else is in molasses. A slow bullet will still kill you. If you kill two people in a row, you gain the ability for a one-time “time dash,” which propels you at lightning speed through walls (to hell with doors!) and through people (to hell with…corporeal forms!). Dash murder becomes mandatory, and mastering it leads to crazy fast playthroughs.
The mechanics are easily the best part of Time Recoil, especially looking at it from the outside. Your character warps into wherever the resistance has sent him next. You get off one shot, suddenly he’s moving twice as fast as you. By the second shot, he’s gone. Suddenly he’s tearing through the building like a vengeful Quicksilver, fueling his speed by ripping people apart, stopping only when everyone is dead. He then either calmly walks to the elevator to go to the next level, or tears a hole in time to disappear without a trace, save for the PILE of viscera and bullet casings he’s left behind. It sounds like a tale people tell around garbage can fires in Neo Detroit.
The art style of Time Recoil is also pretty good, though the portraits and brighter colors (sharp contrast to 10tons other shooters) reminded me of Mr. Shifty, though not in a bad way. Shifty also sought to balance some comic book style art with action, and, at the time, I enjoyed it, but I have yet to go back and finish that game. Time Recoil is short enough that I burned through the entire game in one sitting, driven by the appearance, the challenges and the ridiculous but important plotlines. Add in some pretty dope and solid “time travel” music that’s all about keeping pulse and tension high, and you’ve got yourself a good time.
Hotline Miami is a game that’s all about the drive and the success with one errant blow leading to your death. Time Recoil is almost like a slightly lower stakes version of Hotline Miami. Sure, I felt the same kind of pulse, but I didn’t have the “bat to the head” difficulty until I reached later stages. Early on, I just felt like a time God, which was good, and I maintained my arrogance for about half the game. Time Recoil is damn fun, and another fine addition to the twinstick revolution that’s migrating to the Switch. I hope that 10tons is finding satisfaction and success with its ports, because I would love for them to continue the production, possibly bringing Crimsonland at some point or (gasp) an original Switch exclusive. In either case, show these guys some love: if you like unrelenting time murder, you’ll love Time Recoil.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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