Developer: Urnique Studio
Release Date: May 21st 2020
We got the chance to speak to Parimeth Wongsatayanon, Creative Director at Urnique Studio, about their upcoming time-bending stealth puzzler Timelie:
How would you describe Timelie to someone who had never heard of the game?
Timelie is a stealth-based puzzle game starting a mysterious girl and cat where that features a precognition mechanic that lets you see the future and use it to plan your escape from a strange and surreal world you’re trapped in.
The big feature of Timelie is the ability to control time, with the player able to rewind and fast-forward the timeline freely. How exactly does this work in-game and how does it tie into the puzzling?
We give the player a time that bar that’s pretty similar to what you see in a typical media player. You can click on any point on the time bar to access that specific point in time. You can also drag the time point, allowing the player to be able to rewind or fast forward time. So, with this feature, the player can effectively watch their own future. This gives you the chance to know what’s going to happen, take a look at enemy routes, and then put together a strategy on how you’re going to move and exit the level without being seen. We think it adds a fun and challenging stealth element to a puzzle game.
Interestingly, players get to control two characters within this timeline, which has been described as ‘a coop gameplay experience in a single-player game like never before’. What exactly makes this mechanic so unique in Timelie?
Because players have access to any point in time in a level, almost as if they’re watching a video, they’re able to switch to any character and plans out their actions simultaneously with the other to help each other. For example, you can move the girl to Point A while distracting an enemy robot with the cat so that she’s doesn’t get caught. But you can also do more complex moves than that, and therein lies the challenge in the game. You can sometimes get away with that in a normal single player game, but the AI has to be really good. In Timelie we give that control over to you so you’re in complete control of your strategy. It’s a co-op game, but the other player is yourself.
I love cats, so it’s great to see that I’ll get to play as one in Timelie alongside the young girl. What different abilities do the cat and the girl bring when trying to solve the game’s puzzles?
The girl possesses the ability to manipulate time around certain objects. For example, she can rewind time around a fallen bridge to fix it or press a door switch to open up a path to progress. The cat is more of a traversal type character. It’s small and agile and can move a lot faster than the girl can, which is helpful when avoiding enemies. It can also meow, which distracts enemies and lure them to a specific location.
I’m particularly fond of Timelie’s world, with its vibrant and abstract environments looking fantastic in some of the game’s early footage and screenshots. Was there anything in particular that inspired you when crafting these locales?
That’s an interesting question. When we started this project we didn’t have a concept artist. It might not sound too exciting, but we originally set a loose goal for ourselves to create an indie-style, low-poly looking game. Then, I created the concept, the story and the game world a mentally pictured something that was like a cross between Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2, Playdead’s Inside, and Square Enix’s Go series. But then we had a concept artist, who is incredibly talented, join our team. So, I let him go crazy with the concept that we already had and worked closely with him, as well as with a technical artist we have on our team. The three of us shared ideas between each other about what we thought was great, what we should add, etc. We tried a lot of things and we’re fortunate that the art is really blossomed into this beautiful and vivid part of the game.
You haven’t revealed too many details about Timelie’s narrative yet, so it’s pretty unclear why the girl and her cat are stuck in this strange world and being pursued by peculiar robots. Are you ready to share some story details or is this something players are going to have to uncover themselves when they get their hands on the game?
Unfortunately, I can’t divulge much about the story as I’d like for players to experience it for themselves. I think that most of their questions will be answered in the end and maybe even a few new questions will come up!
When is Timelie releasing and on what platforms?
Timelie will be released on PC this Spring. (Note: The developer has since confirmed a May 21st release date since this interview took place.)
Finally, can you tell us something about the game that no one outside of the development team knows?
I’m embarrassed to say that I’m the actor who plays the girl in every cutscene. I used my phone and a trip to record myself acting like a little girl playing with an invisible cat in my office. I then gave the clip to our animator as reference. I really didn’t want to reveal this, but I guess the secret is out. So just remember that whenever you see the girl in a cutscene…that’s me.