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Time Recoil Review

Time Recoil Review

Time Recoil is a top-down action game with a twist. Every time you kill an enemy, time slows down to a crawl. By carefully planning your attack one kill quickly combos into several, unlocking dash attacks, time bombs, and other special abilities. It’s a neat idea used to some decent effect, but it just can’t overcome the bland, poorly designed game underneath it all.

Aside from the time slow down mechanic Time Recoil is a pretty by the numbers affair. Players make their way through the level, finding guns and ammunition so as to clear a path through to the end of the stage. It controls fine, and the time slowing down is a neat effect, but there are issues like the ammo drops are randomized, leading to situations where the same strategy you used to get through 90% of a level might leave the player standing in a room with no options other than to get shot. In another game such randomization might add some replay value, but Time Recoil is as much a puzzle game as it is an action game, and when the layout of the puzzle suddenly changes it just comes across as unfair. It doesn’t help that the melee is completely useless, so on those runs where you find yourself lacking ammunition you basically have no recourse but to restart the level.

Also, those special abilities I mentioned earlier? There are some light puzzle solving that incorporates those, to disastrous effect. These puzzles should provide a nice change of pace from the twitch action of the rest of the game, but because these abilities are entirely reliant on chaining together a very specific number of kills, it more often than not becomes an exercise in frustration. Laser grids will bar entry to important locations, but can only be circumnavigated by the dash ability. So, if you already used up you special, or (God forbid) played too well and killed enough people to bump your special gauge past the dash attack, you have no option other than to restart. It’s the Goldilocks of game design where the player has to kill not too many, not too few, but just the right number of bad guys to progress.

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 The Time Bomb skill is pretty cool, but usless against a laser grid.

The visuals can be a problem as well. The heavy ink comic book style looks nice in stills, but in motion it can appear muddy. Enemies blend into the background, windows can be difficult to differentiate from walls, and the only real way to tell the difference between certain guns are to shoot them and see what the bullets do. You’re meant to memorize levels in time trials and such, and through sheer repetition this can become less of an issue. But the first time through is so frustrating that it’s hard to imagine players replaying the stages several times over.

It would be easier to swallow these misgivings if you could just jump into the time trial mode and refine your approach, but every time trial level is initially locked until completed in the absolutely terrible story mode. For a game where the main antagonist’s name is literally “Mr. Time” one would think that Time Recoil would have a little bit of fun and levity to its plot. Unfortunately, the plot, or the barest threads of what you could call a plot, takes itself deadly seriously. The routine goes like this: complete a mission; waste your time talking to one of several nameless, personality deprived, characters, proceed to the next mission. Sure, there are twists and turns: friends become enemies, enemies become friends, science fiction clichés are performed, but it’s all so taciturn and uninspired that it’s impossible to become invested in any of it.

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Despite being pretty good shots, the enemies aren't the smartest lot.

If you want play the time trials and can stomach, or at least ignore, the half-hearted attempt at a story then you might derive some enjoyment from Time Recoil. Still, things like the randomized ammo drops, muddy visuals, and poorly designed puzzles are needlessly frustrating, and your time and money would be better spent elsewhere.

3.50/10 3½

Time Recoil (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)

The game is unenjoyable, but it works.

If you want play the time trials and can stomach, or at least ignore, the half-hearted attempt at a story then you might derive some enjoyment from Time Recoil. Still, things like the randomized ammo drops, muddy visuals, and poorly designed puzzles are needlessly frustrating, and your time and money would be better spent elsewhere.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Réjean Lagassé

Réjean Lagassé

Staff Writer

Raised by wolves, adopted by a grizzly, and legally separated from a family of beavers.

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