Considering the fantastically advanced games we’re used to playing in this generation, it might be easier for an old school style side-scroller to put a smile on our faces. That’s not necessarily an easy thing to maintain, though. Sure, the style could generate a positive smirk, but easily one that could slowly die. So when this category of indie game comes out, it’s going to have offer a differentiator. That’s exactly what Capybara Games’ Super Time Force does on the Xbox One. Just what does it do? Go back in time, of course.
What Is It?
Super Time Force is a side-scrolling shooter that focuses on a lead commanded by Colonel Repeatski, a militarized scientist who created time travel and perhaps more importantly speaks in a “lulz” type manner. You’ll play as members of the eponymous Super Time Force with the default members Jean Rambois, Aimy Richochet and Shieldy Blockerson. Among 30 levels, the goal is clear: go back in time to stop bad things from happening.
You wouldn’t think a lulz-speaking Colonel would want you stopping serious issues like genocide, though, right? Nope! The Super Time Force is trying to stop boy bands, movie adaptations and the extinction of dinosaurs. Along the way, you’ll have the chance of picking up new team members and surviving various time puns and references.
It’s a simple premise and remains fun. I never found myself to be actually committing any outbursts other than a smirk, but the game clearly isn’t looking to be comedic gold. Most of the fun will come through the surprisingly challenging gameplay.
Why Should I Care?
The biggest differentiator for Super Time Force is its use of time jumping. The feature isn’t limited to simply entering different periods of time for levels; it’s a built-in and absolutely necessarily element of combat as you’re racing against the clock.
Typically, 60-120 seconds will be allotted per level and 30 “rewinds”, or timeouts, will be provided. These rewinds are used to stop the current progress and go back to a specific time-point in the level or the very beginning, spurred by either death or a new strategic chance. Rewinds effectively become a glorified, advanced life system.
Yet instead of simply getting another solo chance, you fight alongside the ghosts of your previous efforts to ease key parts of the level. It affords you the chance to try various angles of attack to burn through areas quicker. That said, you can imagine that a 60 second level won’t actually be 60 seconds.
Depending on how much difficulty you are having with a level, you could burn through all 30 timeouts over the course of 10 minutes. That has Super Time Force taking you down some strategic paths you didn’t necessarily expect to be going down. Simple running and gunning won’t work here. It’s necessary to use your timeouts as key powerups that will slow down the clock or add 10 seconds, which are only visible when rewinding. Many times, you’ll have to make decisions on just how long you want to make a current run last.
That’s part of the game’s overall learning curve. Super Time Force isn’t necessarily the easiest game to simply pick up and play; it’ll take time before really knowing how to take proper advantage of the time system. In that, you’ll also have to balance the chaos it can create. While various ghosts versions of yourself can be generally very helpful in battle, it also can cause confusion as to which character you are.
A blue arrow will point out your movements but I found it difficult to see when the action was amping up. Additionally, your characters can have charged attacks that come in handy, but if you’re overlapping with a previous version of yourself that had also been charging an attack, it’ll become difficult to know whether your current version actually is charging their attack.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
In attempt to provide full disclosure, I had a hell of a time getting through a majority of this game. Clearly, I must not be the most strategic of folks. Despite that, Super Time Force never became a drag to play. I’ve certainly played games that were difficult and provided no sort of joy to play regardless of any success within them. This, on the other hand, still manages to maintain key casual elements so that it remains a mostly inviting game. Sure, the humor is a tad juvenile and can be mostly shrugged off, but the engaging gameplay should keep you entertained and playing.