Title: Time Recoil
Publisher: 10tons Ltd
Developer: 10tons Ltd
Genre: Top down shooter
Official Site: Time Recoil
Release Date: August 10, 2017
Where To Buy It: Xbox Games Store, PlayStation Store, Steam
Time travel is a theme that has garnered much traction in pop culture. From movies such as Looper and Time Cop to video games like Blinx and Singularity, there seems to be no end to the ways that the manipulation of time can be interwoven into the plot of a story. Time Recoil treads on this well-traveled territory and to its credit still finds a way to create a fresh take on harnessing the very fabric of the fourth dimension, time.
Time Recoil is a top down shooter that, while having twin stick controls, could also be considered a puzzle/strategy game. The story revolves around Alexa who gains the ability to survive the ravages of time travel, after a laboratory accident. Occurring at first in the mid-1980s, Alexa is recruited to use her powers to save Paris from being destroyed in the year 1978. What follows is Alexa jumping through time portals to uncover all of the working pieces that the evil, and appropriately named, Mr. Time assembled to destroy the French capital.
At Alexa’s disposal is a couple of super powers that can be triggered. She is a little bit like Popeye the Sailor Man except instead of getting stronger by eating Spinach, Alexa can slow down time by shooting fools with her gun. As she strings kills together, the duration of the time slowdown increases. Additional kills also charge up a dash function whereby Alexa can blast through walls destroying the environment, and her enemies along the way. The time slowing mechanic introduces a fair bit of strategy to the game as casing out what order to attack enemy soldiers in becomes a key to victory. The dash system, which increases in intensity throughout the game is also highly satisfying with Alexa destroying a large swath of drywall, electronics, and flesh when aimed and timed precisely.
There are over 50 levels in Time Recoil although none are terribly long. It turns out that is the charm of the title if not the point. The more kills that are tied together the more time the clock slows to an almost glacial pace allowing for some levels to be completed in a matter of seconds. Remeber the saying though that time is relative. A couple of seconds on the timer could be thirty or forty in real life. Because the timer is influenced so greatly by Alexa’s power there is a fair bit of replayability on each level to optimize clearing a level with the more efficient use of time. While leaderboards often feel forced or pigeonholed into a game, it is a natural fit for Time Recoil.
The presentation in Time Recoil is not very strong. The story is presented in text based captions, Alexa’s animations are bland and environments are bland and repetitive. This could perhaps all be forgiven if not for the biggest missed opportunity of all. Nowhere in any of the presentation is there any indication that the environments and the people exist in different decades. Between missions, we see a timeline that shows what year Alexa is moving to but nowhere in the world do we get a flavor for that time. The 1980s are ripe for a particular aesthetic or look but a mission in 1985 is indistinguishable from what one would expect to see in 1995, 2005 or 1978 for that matter. As I played the story I wanted to feel like I was taking a trip through the decades and unfortunately, at no time did I ever get this feeling.
This is all too bad because the story is actually rather compelling. Alexa is the only constant in the world as her actions continually alter the timeline. For example, people who were killed in the past are now alive thanks to her intervention. This leads to some reflection on the paradoxes encountered in changing the past and the possibilities with this great power afforded to her. The story also continually tasks Alexa with interesting goals such as rescuing scientists, stopping assassinations and acquiring tech to increase the number of years that she can go back at any given time. The result is a strong sense of purpose that feeds a desire to do, “just one more level” even when it is far too late in the night. I would have liked to have a few more levels to increase the depth of Time Recoil as replaying the same levels over and over to improve my time holds little appear after a while.
Verdict: Time Recoil introduces a fresh take on the top down shooter introducing a fun time bending mechanic and destructive dash. This leads to a compelling and some replayability. The game really misses the opportunity to take advantage of fleshing out the world to represent the different times Alexa travels to and could have a more polished presentation.
- Time slowing by killing mechanic deep and fun
- Dashing power destructive and satisfying
- Interesting story
- stale environments
- weak presentation