Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Being a sucker for a twin-stick shooter, I was quite happy to see that developer 10tons had continued their Nintendo Switch onslaught of releases by bringing their time-bending shooter Time Recoil to the system. Granted, it’s been available on multiple platforms for some time, but the sheer convenience of being able to play it on the go was a major plus to me.
It didn’t take long to realise that it was more than just another twin-stick shooter though; it requires more than just quick-paced reactions and instead a lot more strategic thought. It helps the game stand out amongst the crowd, plus it just so happens to be a lot of fun to play too.
Time Recoil puts you in the shoes of Alexa, a female spy who’s part of a mysterious group known as the ‘Recoilers’. It’s your job to take down a mad scientist known as Mr. Time who, of course, has plans of utter destruction that would cause untold chaos across the world. This means travelling through time (thanks to some nifty wormholes) and taking on a myriad of different missions as you foil his plans and ensure the world is going to be safe for a little while longer.
From the outside, it’d be easy to see Time Recoil as just another twin-stick shooter. However, whilst a lot of the shooting and exploration mechanics might feel familiar, the game actually allows the player to slow down time by killing enemies. This means that actually taking down some foes will give you the upper hand whilst you move on to the next bunch, with those extra few seconds proving vital to surviving some of the game’s trickier set pieces.
It adds a unique element to the game that makes it stand out amongst the crowd. I’ve played so many twin-stick shooters where it feels like a case of simply clearing out room after room of enemies with no real hook or strategy, but Time Recoil actually encourages you to think each kill through and try to use it to your advantage as you move onto the next. It also happens to be a lot of fun to pull off too, which is always a good thing.
There’s actually a surprising amount of strategy required when taking on most missions in the game. Whilst it’d be easy to see the simple side of Time Recoil’s mechanics, some clever level layouts and smart enemies mean that if you go in with no plan, you’ll quickly find your time in the game coming to an end. You’ll need awareness of enemy positions, numbers, where they’re facing, what weapons they have – seriously, there’s a level of depth here that might not be apparent at first, but will certainly show its face as you progress further through the game. It ensures the game doesn’t get boring though and prevents it from simply focusing purely on just twisting sticks and mashing buttons to provide its thrills.
Whilst there’s a lot of strategy to the game though, it’s certainly not short of action. The sheer volume of enemies found through each level ensures bullets are constantly flying everywhere, whilst the environment themself will be blasting to pieces throughout all of the gunfire too (you can actually earn a dash attack by quickly killing enemies that’ll allow you to smash through walls, which always proves effective when trying to surprise your enemies). Time Recoil will certainly have you feeling like a badass as you leave a trail of corpses behind you during missions, though that’s not to say they won’t do the same to you; it’s a tough little game and with a one-hit kill approach to showdowns, you’ll definitely suffer plenty of deaths of your own along the way.
Visually, Time Recoil just looks ok. It’s not ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but its myriad of corridor-based laboratories or offices don’t really offer much from an aesthetic standpoint. There’s certainly nothing here you wouldn’t have seen before and whilst the vivid colour palette does look pretty, it’s just not very creative. At least the music adds enough excitement to keep you pumped up as your blasting through enemies, with each tune fitting in perfectly with both the time-bending action and the espionage vibe of the story.
Time Recoil has a fairly decent length, with the game clocking in at around five hours from start to finish (though that could vary depending on how often you die). Those who haven’t had enough time-bending action though can hit the Time Attack mode, challenging you to get through the game as quickly as possible. These kind of game modes aren’t really for me, but it does add a bit more to the package for players who enjoy the challenge of blitzing through levels as quickly as possible.
Time Recoil’s blend of strategic action and top-down shooting makes for a tight and refined experience that really is a lot of fun to play. Whilst it’s innovations are fairly simple in design, they do enough to make what is a well-trodden genre feel a bit fresher and a bit more unique.
The overall presentation of the game is just competent with a lack of character to be found across the fairly bland environments, but overall Time Recoil is an easy title to recommend and another enjoyable addition to the Nintendo Switch’s ever-growing catalogue of releases.