Time Locker | reviews, news & interviews
Is this top-down 2D endless run & gun game a timeless classic?
Time Locker takes a simple concept first seen in Piotr Iwanicki’s 3D shooter, Superhot and repurposes it for a top-down 2D endless run & gun game. In most shooters, rapid movement and frantic aiming are the norm but in Superhot time only advances when you move. You can stand still and take in your surroundings, including the trajectory of bullets and enemies frozen in the air, and then move to dodge or intercept them. As soon as you move a millimeter, however, the clock starts ticking and everything starts moving again.
Time Locker’s version of Superhot’s 3D gun battles is an endless plain which your avatar (a bear, initially, although more characters can be unlocked as you play) must run across, dodging or shooting your way through herds of animals and other enemies which can kill you on contact. This may seem easy at first. You can move in all directions, so if there is a tricky target or group of polygonal velociraptors crowding you, just step back a few paces and take careful aim.
Alas, nothing is ever so simple. Creeping slowly up from just off the bottom of the screen is a tsunami of dark pixels that continues to advance even while the game is frozen. Take too long to think or get too elaborate or cautious with your movements and it could catch up with you, spelling instant death.
Special mention must be made of the game’s visual design. Most shoot ‘em ups fill the screen with a variety of spaceships or military threats and some pile on the projectiles to make a bullet hell for you to fly and dodge around. Time Locker has plenty of enemies too but, barring the odd helicopter and tank you are primarily harried by herds of running, flying or slithering animals from flanking flocks of dainty birds to enormous bull elephants that pound down the screen towards you. This lends the game a surreal, almost soothing aspect.
Most enemies are a shade of grey but the odd one will appear blue or green and, when shot, will transform into powerups or coins respectively. The powerups are vital to take out tougher foes while the coins can be spent on new avatars, powerups or an instant Continue if you are destroyed.
The game owes a lot to 2014’s time waster, Crossy Road, from the simple, retroish polygon visuals to its tempting offer of a Continue in exchange for virtual (or real, if you like) cash or some time spent watching an advert. The addition of extra character models will satisfy gamers who like to complete every possible objective as well as adding a bit of variety.
The urge to have just one more try is powerful and Time Locker makes it so easy to indulge that you begin to wonder if the title of the game isn’t a sly comment on the effect it is having on your life.
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