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July 2018

Time Recoil

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Developer: 10tons
Release Date: Aug. 10, 2017


PC Review - 'Time Recoil'

by Cody Medellin on Jan. 5, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

Time Recoil is an explosive slow motion top-down shooter where the player is given a super power: Kill to slow time.

Buy Time Recoil

10tons Ltd. knows how to make a good twin-stick shooter. Crimsonland was a straightforward shooter that allowed players to blast enemies in open spaces while unlocking some interesting perks along the way, and Neon Chrome took to more confined spaces but added some roguelike elements and procedurally generated levels. Both titles were highly enjoyable due to great action mixed in with on-point controls that overcame a lack of new mechanics. Time Recoil falls into that same kind of rhythm that other 10tons shooters display, but this time, the solid shooting is mixed with a new mechanic to keep things interesting.

In an alternate version of the past, the city of Paris has been turned into a wasteland, and the rest of the world powers have succumbed to the whims of a dictator known as Mr. Time. With no way of fighting him off in the present, a small group of rebels devised a way to fight back through the use of a stolen time machine. Unfortunately, the journey only goes in one direction, as anyone who tries to make a return trip to the present time dies in the process. Enter Alexa, a prisoner of Mr. Time's who was exposed to several time travel experiments but remains the only person who's been able to return to the present time unharmed. After freeing her from prison, the resistance has tasked Alexa with trying to change the past so the future becomes a better place.

Though the story isn't unique, it's something special for 10tons Ltd., as its lineup of twin-stick shooters thus far only serves as a backdrop for your shooting. Here, you actually get a continuous narrative as the people you talk to between levels will fill you in on your next mission and inform you of the results of your previous mission and how things have changed for the better. The story isn't gripping, and all of the story beats are told in a somewhat emotionless way, but it's a nice change of pace from the studio's previous output.

For the most part, Time Recoil takes on the corridor layouts of Neon Chrome but adds in some Hotline Miami for good measure. You don't start out every level with much besides a pistol, and it's up to you to get your weapons and ammo from dead enemies along the way. Your arsenal doesn't expand much beyond the usual, like rifles and shotguns, but almost every enemy you meet can be felled with one hit. At the same time, you can die with just one hit, so being precise and quick with your shots is the key to beating a stage. The levels are also very short, so even though you'll always start at the beginning of the stage after every death, at least you're never put so far back that beating a stage becomes frustrating.

As far as the time element goes, it starts off as nothing more than ending a level by opening a destructive time portal anywhere you want and escaping. Hit an enemy, however, and the time element becomes a bigger deal, as time around you slows down for a few seconds, usually enough to get in a second or third good shot, and the slowdown effect is prolonged with each shot that hits an enemy. As you progress, getting subsequent kills with time slowed down gives you access to some powerful moves, like a dash move that obliterates any walls and enemies standing in your path and a bomb that clears surrounding enemies.

That slowdown of time and the moves that come along with it turn the game into a top-down version of Superhot. Once you're adept with your shooting and powers, you'll find that the game becomes a ballet of death that can look very good when slowed down. It doesn't get old to see splattering bodies, slow-motion explosions and crumbling walls, and it's satisfying to string everyone together into one slow-motion run.

It's a good thing, then, that the gunplay is so tight since the objectives are so repetitive. Missions consist of either killing everyone in the stage, obtaining documents, or saving certain people. The game doesn't go beyond that, and while it is fun to bowl through a stage, it can become redundant once you notice the lack of objective variety.

Beyond a good and lengthy campaign, Time Recoil doesn't have much else to offer up for the player. There is a time trial mode for all of the completed levels, but unless you've completely mastered all of your powers, it's almost impossible to get three stars on each stage. Whereas both Neon Chrome and Crimsonland were able to change things up by offering multiplayer, Time Recoil remains a single-player affair. As a result, most people will likely stop playing the game once the end credits roll.

As far as presentation goes, it all works decently. The graphics are fine, with no real breakthroughs in lighting or the spartan character design. That is balanced out, however, with lots of particle effects, and a lack of slowdown keeps the game feeling solid even when the situation gets chaotic. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is full of energetic tracks that emphasize action while the sound effects do a good job of filling in for the game's lack of voice acting.

It really is the gunplay and time powers that make Time Recoil worth checking out. A lot of enjoyment can be had in discovering the best combo that leaves behind a slow-motion trail of destruction. At the same time, the lack of level variety and objective variance makes this a better candidate for gaming in short bursts, and the lack of multiplayer hurts as well. Even with these flaws, Time Recoil is a solid twin-stick shooter that is worth checking out.

Score: 7.5/10

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