Time Recoil Review

Sometimes, games end up with names that have absolutely nothing to do with what they’re about, or what they’re like to play. And other times, the title of a game will tell you almost all that you need to know about it – a snappy couple of words that absolutely nail down a concept. Time Recoil, coming this Friday from 10tons is a game that fits into the latter category.

Time Recoil is a top down, twin stick shooter that’s about time travel. Set in a dystopian 1987, you’re an agent called Alexa who is travelling back and forth in time attempting to manipulate events to prevent the catastrophic ‘Paris Day’ from occurring back in 1978. The 80’s setting is one that persists through the game itself – the music has a distinct 80’s electronica tint, and the dialogue with NPC’s contains some nice little pop culture references to smile to yourself as you spot. There’s also plenty of neon through the course of the game.

The HQ of the shadowy organisation you’re acting on behalf of serves as a hub in which you speak to various NPC’s to progress the story forward and launch missions. Each update in story events is delivered in a comic book style popup – and the story is interesting enough in itself. What it really does though is give a reason for the mechanics of the game, as this is clearly a game where mechanics have driven narrative rather than the other way around… and this is no bad thing at all when the mechanics are as satisfying as they are here.

Chaining kills to slow down time starts as a novelty but becomes essential to success.

Each level involves you travelling back in time, generally armed with a pistol and a meagre amount of ammunition. Enemies are all one-shot kill, and so are you. As you kill enemies, time slows down which gives you an advantage that you desperately need as you’re massively outnumbered all the time. Slow down time enough, and you can unleash a move that allows you to dash forward and later launch a massive area of effect attack that obliterates everything nearby. And when we say ‘everything’, we mean ‘EVERYTHING’ – walls crumble, glass shatters, computers explode, pot plants and bodies take to the air. It’s pretty impressive.

Time Recoil

Mission structures vary from a straightforward ‘murder everything and hit the exit’ assault to ‘go here and rescue this guy’ or ‘go there and steal this folder/disk/person’ – all of them though are subjected to some solid level design that will have you sitting tight for a moment and planning a route and then going for it with all guns blazing.

And blaze those guns do. Enemies die satisfyingly messy deaths, blood exploding from them in slow motion and spattering the environment. Shooting them through thin walls, chaining shots into explosive barrels (yes, the old videogame staple strikes again!), powering up a dash attack and then slamming yourself into a room packed with baddies is seriously satisfying stuff. Ammo management is an essential part of the game – miss too many shots and you’ll run out, and if you run out you’re dead.

Difficulty wise, it’s hard but fair. We died a LOT playing this game – but at no point did we ever think that the death was the fault of anything but our own lack of talent. More importantly though, that fairness feeds into that “just one more go” feeling that’s evoked by the best games. The feeling of running a level, dying a couple of times and then spotting the right route and stringing everything together flawlessly is one of exhilaration and satfisfaction.

If you’re a fan of top down twin stick shooters, you really should pick Time Recoil up. You’ll have a lot of fun with it. At its worst it’s a decent top down shooter, and at its best it’s a ballet of well executed carnage.

Time Recoil will be available on Friday 15th September on the Xbox Store, priced at £8.95.

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