I’ve always had an unhealthy obsession with time travel stories; if time travel is mentioned I’ll usually blindly throw myself into it. You want me to give you my credit card details? Are you absolutely insa- Oh it’s to do with time travel? Oh boy yeah here you go. You want my kidneys too? Bit weird… but yeah sure, go ahead buddy! Anything for a spot of time travel goodness. Yeah I like time travel so when I saw Time Recoil by 10ton it obviously drew me right in, but the fast paced fluid gunfights ending up being my highlight.
You play as Alexa, a woman imprisoned in 1981 who is thrown across time to try and prevent an evil scientist called ‘Mr Time’ from achieving world domination. Fantastic name by the way. A bunch of crazy scientists created time traveling wormholes which come with disastrous results. Alexa is immune to the pitfalls of time travel, while everyone else who renters a timeline they exist in gets pulverised into a fiery oblivion, you’re free to dart between timelines escalating the messy repercussions of time travel. You slowly begin to realise the more you’re sent back in time the more damage it does to the future or characters will vanish from existence or not recognise you. The story and dialogue is quirky and fun but at times very confusing. The story is told mainly through dialogue and scripted events within game. The scripted events in levels feel much more engaging than talking to the NPC’s which begin to feel like a slog after a while. The barrage of dialogue becomes a little distracting after a while especially with the time travel technology jargon and complex descriptions of your objective. After a while I’d start frantically jamming the X button just to jump back into the action. The jumps between time also make the narrative feel a bit jarring as you struggle to comprehend what happened in what timeline and which timeline you exist in and it makes you think ‘where am I? What am I doing? Who am I?’ (cue existential meltdown). However, paying attention to the story isn’t integral to an enjoyable experience, in parts the story does engage you but it’s a shame the majority of it is scientists explaining your objective in a complicated way.
The visuals and music gel quite well to create a dystopian futuristic atmosphere with a foggy dull backdrop of disembodied skyscrapers lending to this. As the action escalates the music follows adding tension to those nail biting close encounters with death. The levels themselves are short little segments which will roughly take a minute or two to plough through. They place you in an isolated playground of destructible objects and enemies usually in offices or labs and you exit via a door or a wormhole you can create. This wormhole is a nice little exit as placing one destroys everything in the small bubble you place it in. Watching things crumble and people explode into a mass of blood and guts will always be entertaining. What I liked about this use of destructible environment was the different avenues it gave you to tackle enemies. This can be used to your advantage and at times disadvantage. Abilities and weapons can be used to destroy walls allowing you to skip locked doors or to land a surprise attack on the unsuspecting guards but sometimes allow the enemies a sneaky shot from the opening you made. The level designs are quite a treat to play through placing you in rooms rigged to explode or a maze of small locked doors to navigate through by finding the control panels.
With a handful of different weapons and time bending super powers drip fed to you as you progress the chapters, your character seems to progress and become more powerful. The game is a top down shooter so fans of the older GTA’s and Hotline Miami know the sort of gameplay to expect. For those of you not so enlightened by the aerial viewpoint it plays a little like this. From the top down perspective it grants you wider peripherals meaning you can view the level as if you were flying overhead allowing you to devise a murderous plan to tear through those generic guards. The controls are very simplistic; you move with the left stick, aim with the right stick, shoot with R2 and use your crazy powers with L2. Literally no learning curve but that doesn’t mean this games a walk in the park. Yeah sure, at first you can effortlessly cut down enemies (normal mode) but as you progress the game throws curveballs in the form of various obstacles (lasers or gas for example) which force you to stop and think about what approach to take. Some levels often feel like a puzzle as you come unstuck at a locked door and have to find the control panel but usually don’t require much lateral thinking which I think works in its favour because at its core, this game shines in the combat. There’s usually several paths to take for each level which helps the levels feel much less repetitive if you find yourself dying every restart at one part. You can run and gun and hope for the best, you can sneak past guards if the objective permits barely skimming what the level has to offer.
Time Recoils most enjoyable mechanic is its bullet time effect which causes time to slow down for a couple of seconds after each kill. Meaning you can dance around enemies pumping them with bullets as you glide across the room. This adds a level of momentum to the gameplay as you rack up combos, the slow motion makes the combat flow while simulating intense levels of action, with bullets whizzing past you and explosions. The combos earn you power-ups which aid you in executing devastating rampages of destruction. Pulling off long chains is immensely satisfying and fluid echoing the Quicksilver scenes in the X-men franchise. There’s something incredibly satisfying about plotting a route of enemies to kill and dashing between rooms to keep your streak going as pools of blood splatter around the levels. As you play you’ll naturally become more adept at pulling off these combos coupled with the abilities you’ll start to feel like an all-powerful god dashing and exploding anything in your path. Explosive gas canisters are another fun addition which usually result in a kill activating the slow-motion effect. This effect really engrosses you in the chaos as you stroll through flying debris and litres of blood splattering around the place and it just feels so damn cool navigating through it. The slow down effect is your best friend in this game when surrounded by enemies. A few times I stupidly ran into a room full of guards with an almost empty gun weaving in and out of the line of fire screaming at my television somehow managing to get to safety in slow-mo feeling like I’d been touched by the gaming gods. By the later levels, once you feel overconfident and overly powerful, the game will throw enemies with multiple lives or shield which shakes up the gameplay a bit and once again forces you to reconsider your approach.
Due to the confusing narrative the game encourages you to replay which comes in handy with 3 difficulties being offered. Normal and hard unlocked from the get go and the murderous difficulty locked until you beat the game. So if you’re feeling brave and like a challenge give that a go. For me, I played through normal which seemed easy enough at first until the later levels drove me close to the brink of insanity. My controller almost took a beating as slews of enemies and obstacles wore me down with every attempt. You quickly realise that there is little room for error in the levels as one bullet mows you down. Having one life makes every attempt feel intense as one lapse in judgement will zap you back to the start.
The 56 levels will take you between 3-4 hours to blast through which was a little disappointing, but there is a mission archive mode which allows you to replay any level as a time attack and an online leader board adding another layer of replay ability besides the difficulties. Perfectionists will find themselves in their element as each level has a 2-3-star rating to earn by completing levels in lightning fast time. When I say lightning fast I mean it. I played through the 2nd level in this mode numerous times managing to get just shy of 2 stars. To gain the 3-star time you’ll need perfect reactions and accuracy to pull off so there’s plenty to do after the first credits roll.
Overall Time Recoil is a brief fun, fast flowing top down shooter that’s easy to pick up but difficult to master. Coupled with an entertaining story mode about the pitfalls of time travel. The story is brief lasting only 3-4 hours, but is redeemed if you’re up for a challenge with a time attack mode and 3 levels of intense difficulty. For those looking for a challenge this game is perfect for you; for those deterred by difficult games, don’t run away it’s more fun than frustrating. The gameplay is an absolute blast to play through there were many moments which made me cheer with joy which made up for the moments of frustration. At the time of writing the game stands at £11.49 on the PS store. This isn’t too bad but for those who are likely to only play once ignoring time attacks and harder modes you’re only going to be getting 3-4 hours of gameplay. I had a great ride but I can’t help feeling a multiplayer mode could’ve boosted my playtime with chain kills giving you killstreak powers.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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