Time Recoil (Xbox One Review)
It has never occurred to me before but Twinstick Shooters are a rather generous and forgiving genre. Player health is usually plentiful and ammo reserves are near infinite. It wasn’t until I played Time Recoil that I realised I’d taken those limitless health pools and bottomless magazines for granted. Now I needed to make every shot count, one miss fire from my itchy trigger finger would see me undone for as my own character was as fragile as a glass vase, one touch and i’d be one the floor in pieces.
In Time Recoil you play as a member of a rebel force known as the “Recoilers”, a small group of brainiacs and militants that seek to see Mr. Time — our main antagonist– thrown from the seat of power he sits on over the entirety of Europe. Using wormhole technology, you are tasked with traveling back in time and stopping Mr. Time before he becomes the omnipotent leader he is today. Since you are the only one who can travel through these wormholes without dying, a mystery left unresolved, it’s upto you and you alone to see this mission through.
Time Recoil is at heart a relatively simple Twinstick Shooter. Stages are very small and concise, enemy varieties are plentiful but merely impactful, and the story can be thrown away as it never really draws you in the way a story should – run and gun as fast as you can, and you’ll do well. What separates Time Recoil apart from any other Twinstick Shooter, if you haven’t guessed already, is that you have the ability to control time. Upon killing an enemy the player enters bullet time for a few seconds and can be chained as long as the killing spree continues.
Chaining kills is Time Recoil’s means of creating a challenge. Stages normally encourage the player to play how they like, not bothering with chaining kills to slow time or making use of shortcuts to cut down on time. However, from time to time –no pun intended– the player will be asked to chain together a group of enemies to unlock new abilities to further progress through a stage. Chaining 2 kills allows the player to Time Dash, killing enemies and breaking through walls. A combo of 4 creates Time Blast, a shockwave that can eviscerate an entire room of troops. Chaining 6 kills generates a Time Pulse that kills enemies through scenery that you don’t have a direct line of sight to and finally an 8 combo stops time altogether, allowing you to set up bullet traps and tear down enemies with ease.
The plethora of powers at the player’s disposal make most stages a cake walk. Enemies can range from simple baton wielding soldiers to heavily armoured rocketeers that take several shots to down. All of them don’t stand much of a chance when faced with our protagonists time powers and personal armory ,making them feel more like target dummies than any real threat, diminishing the need for multiple types of enemies. Making them all feel like they’ve been pulled from the same pot, just with various different coats of paint. And that might be more accurate than I mean it to be, as graphically speaking Time Recoil isn’t anything stellar. Stage design is consistent across the board whether you are on stage 1 or stage 30, all levels look and feel the same; especially the last chapter which reuses the exact same stage multiple times, altering the starting position. Colours are rather bland and basic and animations come of rather robotic at times. All of this combined makes Time Recoil feel more like a Mobile game than one suited for a Console or PC.
With all that said Time Recoil is still a solid game. It may not look nice on the eyes but the gameplay feels great, it’s bite sized levels give the player a quick shot of adrenaline as they mow down goon after goon, then bolting to the exit for a fast time. With 5 chapters covering 50 stages, more or less, these bite sized levels will soon pass you by. That’s why developer 10tons Ltd have implemented a few difficulty levels to up the replay value along with a star rating system for time completion to challenge your friends and fellow Recoilers on the world leaderboards. Although, the repetitive levels still don’t settle in any better the more you play them.
Time Recoil is short and precise. It’s an action packed romp utilising a much loved bullet time mechanic that creates a stylish persona for a rather bland looking game. Although stages don’t differ much from one another you won’t be sticking around in them long enough to care all that much. In essence, Time Recoil is a “burner game” as I like to put it. You can pick it up easily and have fun, it does the job it says it does. But once you’ve finished it — which won’t take long– you’ll be discarding it as fast you got it.