Release Date: October 26, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (eShop), PC (Steam), Playstation 4 (Playstation Store), Xbox One (Microsoft Store)
Price: $13.99 USD
The small developer/publisher 10tons is at it again and has released yet another top down shooter. After reviewing their last outing, JYDGE, and even Neon Chrome, one might think enough is enough, give us something new! Yet you would be surprised that not only does Time Recoil feel fresh, it’s pretty damn enjoyable, and is a welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch’s library.
In Time Recoil, you play as an unnamed character who starts out in confinement. A wormhole suddenly appears, and after speaking with a man, you jump in to discover that it takes you through time. After getting acquainted with your new friends and team, you learn your mission is to stop Mr. Time, a time manipulating mad scientist turned evil dictator. With the help of your new comrades, you have the ability to travel back and forth in time and potentially change the outcome of current events and stop evil plans before they occur. It may not be the most thrilling and original story out there, but it’s nice that it gives some context to the experience and provides short and quick dialogue through each mission.
Like in JYDGE however, the story will take a bit of a back seat. Even if the game has you play through story segments and offers some cut scenes in between in forms of still art. The real appeal of Time Recoil sets in when you get into the thick of things. Once you start mowing down enemies and slowing down time and utilizing all the abilities to your disposal does the appeal of the game show. Oh, and blowing up things also helps make a case for Time Recoil.
Time Recoil controls no different than any other top down shooter. The left analog stick controls movement and the right analog stick is used to aim. You fire with the right trigger, and the left shoulder button executes melee attacks. The left trigger allows you to execute special abilities, based on your kill streak. For a game requiring you to use guns, there is no reload button and instead you simply collect ammo that is dropped from enemies or lying around in stages. The game I guess takes the more realistic approach and your character can only carry one gun with one ammo clip at a time. This makes managing ammo essential and carelessly firing shots can have repercussions deeper into some levels.
Time Recoil’s game play can be quite basic. There is no customization of weapons or abilities, but it takes a central mechanic and exploits it throughout the game. This unique mechanic is the ability to slow down time. Whenever you land a kill, time slows ever so slightly, giving you an advantage in seeing and dodging incoming fire and being able to move faster than enemies. Along with the ability to slow down time, the higher your kill streak reaches, you gain abilities that you can use against your enemies, such as dashing in a straight line or causing a huge explosion in a given area.
It may not sound like there’s a whole lot there going for the game play, but trust me, it’s pretty freakin’ fun! The time slowing mechanic is a rush. Upon getting your first kill, the game makes you want to keep up your kill streak and prolong the slowing of time. You end up rushing forward taking out enemies as quickly as possible. Since dying can be a common occurrence, you quickly start learning the layout of each stage, which makes getting kill streaks a much more easy and satisfying feat to achieve.
Even if the game play does not sound varied enough to you, the stages more than make up for it. You’ll be thrown into all sorts of different environments that force you to learn your surroundings and enemy placements to be able to execute your mission and use your abilities effectively. Stages come in the form of large rooms, to narrow corridors and all present different challenges to the player. I never felt there was a dull moment with the stages presented to me.
The stages also throw different objectives your way from time to time. In one stage, you’ll need to kill all the guards, while in others, you’ll need to steal secret documents, or talk to your contact. It all helps mix things up a bit in addition to the well designed stages. As you complete your objective, you spawn a wormhole anywhere around you and hop right in back to your base in the future.
What makes the stages extra special is that they feel almost entirely destructible. You’ll learn early on, that making things go BOOM is not only an easy way to get the job done, but is quite a spectacle. Firing at explosive tanks and witness the carnage as literally every wall infront of you crumbles is really something. You can perform your dash ability through walls to surprise and take out unsuspecting enemies in one swift blow. Even spawning your wormhole is great because it is just as destructive as normal explosions. I always make a point to place it where the most numbers of things will crumble.
From a visual stand point, the graphics used from a technical point of view appear primitive. From an artistic point of view, the visuals are designed pretty nice. The colours used even if they are repetitive, are very vibrant and the overall look is bright and does away with using generic grey and brown tones. It’s quite pleasing to see and the stages mix up their visual aesthetic from time to time to add some variety.
Where Time Recoil impresses visually is when effects are used. When you initially start to build up your kill streak and time slows down, the effect used is neat and helps add this sense of speed you gain from being able to move lightning fast while everything around you moves slow. The game uses a blur like effect around the border of the screen to achieve this. Certain abilities also lend a bit of flare to the scene when used. What is most impressive for me are the explosions and destructible environments. Blowing up gas tanks and watching them start a domino effect with other near by gas tanks as they cause a huge chain of explosions and watching the bits of rubble from walls and furniture fly all over the place is pretty damn impressive, and oh so satisfying. Other details like the over exaggerated blood splatter and abilities that literally rip your enemies to shreds all help add to the chaos. The rule of Time Recoil? If it exists, it can probably be turned into itty little bits. The visual elements used in Time Recoil here directly make you want to keep up the destruction and mayhem all for the visual rewards you get to see after the fact. I’m not a violent guy at all, but this games makes me want to kill and blow things up.
I played Time Recoil mostly on handheld mode, which looks and runs great this way. Enemies and your character are just big enough to see clearly on the small screen. However, once you blow it up on the big screen, it looks even better and I wondered why I waited so long to prop the Switch up in the dock. It’s quite a visual treat to see just how big everything became. The game also runs without a hitch majority of the time, except for those rare moments when absurd amounts of explosions and particles are being generated which causes a small dip in frame rate. Nothing game breaking by any means and still very playable.
Like the visual effects, the sound design of Time Recoil also helps to add to the immense amount of satisfaction felt from all the mayhem. Guns shots and explosions sound good, but when time is slowed down, it’s a completely different experience. Sounds are muffled and slowed down to match the effect of time slowing down. Hearing gun shots this way really stand out, but what really takes the cake is when you kill enemies. Hearing the slowed down grunts as they take bullets, and blood splatters as they fall to the ground is unreal. Like the visual effects, this really drives me forward to just keep killing. Did I mention I’m not a violent guy?
The music is also pretty damn awesome, which is primarily composed by NightStop. I highly recommend checking them out. I’m not expert in the genre’s used, but I’d wager to say it’s retro inspired using melodies and effects like synths from the past, but also implores some modern effects for that extra heavy feel. It’s all very pleasing to the ears from the opening moments when you hear the first song on the main menu. As you progress through each stage, the music continues to deliver and really helps fit the action on screen. Given the game is set back in the 80s, the music perfectly lends to that feel. I highly recommend playing Time Recoil with a good pair of headphones, or in docked mode with some kick ass speakers. Here are a few tracks that stood out to me.
Even though Time Recoil’s mechanic is quite simple and easy to pick up, it’s certainly not an easy game by any means. In most stages, you’ll easily die over and over again and have to retry them. It doesn’t become a frustrating affair thankfully, as you can get back into the action almost instantly. It also helps you map out the stage and enemy placements in your mind. This leads to great moments as you quickly turn corners and take out enemies with ease, or even try out completely different routes to see how they fair. There’s quite a few different possibilities in how you can take on challenges in Time Recoil, that it always feels exciting.
Time Recoil has three difficulties to choose from, which are Normal, Hardcore and Murderous mode, which you unlock after completing the main story. I took on hardcore mode from the start, and it’s loads of fun. Now the differences between Normal and Hardcore mode based on the descriptions are minuscule, so anyone thinking Normal mode may be a breeze will be dead wrong. Any attack from enemies will kill you in one shot. So any small mistake could cost you your progress and have you restart the stage. I would not advise players turned off by highly challenging games to take on Time Recoil, as it may put you in a high state of stress. Otherwise, if you are looking for a brutally challenging game, look no further.
Although the main story falls kind of short at at most five hours, there’s plenty of reason to keep jumping back into Time Recoil. For those seeking further challenge, you can take on the games Murderous mode for one. The game also has a Time Attack mode which lets you show off your best time on the online leader boards. I haven’t jumped deep into this yet, but I’ll tell you, even rushing through the regular stages as fast as you can is quite a spectacle if you are able to pull it off. I felt really good being able to take out enemies in succession very quickly and building up my kill streak to unleash some brutal kills using my most devastating abilities.
I’ll admit, I was very skeptical of Time Recoil when I first approached it. Given that it looks very similar to 10tons previous two top down shooter releases, I was wondering how this could be any different. Turns out that skepticism was unmet, and the game, at least compared to JYDGE, feels completely different and fresh. From it’s visuals, sound design and time slowing mechanic, everything is very well thought out to make Time Recoil a unique experience. It delivers an ultra satisfying experience that encourages endless destruction that never gets old and has a fun feeling of brutality that makes even the most anti-violent people like me become killing maniacs. I highly recommend anyone seeking a destructive and challenging game, especially at it’s very reasonable price point. There’s much reason to play and continue coming back to Time Recoil, even if it’s just for the pure amusement you get from all the carnage.
Disclaimer: This review was done using a Nintendo Switch copy of Time Recoil provided by the games publisher/developer, 10tons. Please be assured that this did not affect my opinion of the game, and that my criticisms are an honest and true representation of my thoughts on the game.