Also On: Xbox 360
Publisher: Capybara Games
Developer: Capybara Games
At first glance you might dismiss Super Time Force as another 2D indie action/platformer, something that’s not in short supply on various platforms. But in Capybara we trust, and that talented development team has created a very unique, addictive, and oftentimes difficult experience that’s not easily comparable to anything I’ve ever played before. This is a gorgeously rendered, beautifully animated, entertaining romp through alternate timelines across the future, past and present.
At the onset of the game, you’ll take on the role of one of three members of Super Time Force, a time traveling crew of do-gooders that are out to correct past wrongs and undo future travesties. The introductory stage serves as a much-needed tutorial, displaying the various time-manipulating mechanics that will see you through the end of the wildly themed worlds experienced within.
While the core concept here is traditional 2D run-and-gun action, controlling time is certainly the most important tool at your disposal. At any point during the game you can pause time, and rewind back through the entire stage. This allows you to pinpoint a specific area where more firepower would be useful, where you can then drop in another character to play while the “ghost” of your previous user-controlled character still exists. This function becomes useful in a number of places, notably on boss fights with high armor and multiple weak-points to exploit.
Time manipulation is also useful for preventing death, which you’ll encounter a lot in Super Time Force. It’s not unusual to stumble blindly into a new area of a stage and encounter immediate enemy fire, but with the time rewind ability, you can plan and adjust your attacks accordingly. If you manage to get killed, rewind time, and then save your previous ghost, you’ll be able to merge both characters into one. This bumps up the number of hits your character can sustain, and adds additional firepower to your somewhat meager arsenal of attacks.
Both of these these concepts are used frequently to surpass most of the challenges seen in any given stage. Super Time Force is tough as hell to complete, even with time manipulation and stacking multiple characters to increase firepower. There’s a time limit on every stage, so not only do you need to overcome tough bosses and occasionally cheap deaths, you’ll need to do so quickly. Essentially you’ll end up replaying stages over and over again, by rewinding time, improving as you begin to learn more about what surprises are in store just off-screen.
There’s a feeling that I had while playing which felt very similar to something like Dark Souls, in that this is a game that you’re not meant to breeze through, instead you need to learn and replay sections over and over again in order to just squeeze through tough sections. It’s a very rewarding experience to master an insane section of a stage or an annoyingly aggravating boss encounter, a feeling that few games are able to deliver as well as Super Time Force does.
That said, it can take some getting used to. I struggled a lot early on with the time manipulation, often wanting to go as far as possible without using ghosts or rewinding time to surpass tough sections of the game. Because of this I often felt like I was beating my head against a wall, trying to play in a “traditional” manner, and not treating the experience more slowly. Granted, it’s hard to look at the game and not think that this is going to be a twitch/reflex based experience. But once you start to use the rewind time function liberally, even when it doesn’t seem necessary, you’ll start to have a lot more fun with Super Time Force.
And that’s virtually the only complaint I can level at the game. It’s a smart take on 2D action/platforming titles, with fantastic visuals and music, and a pretty humorous script to boot. I love the callbacks to old-school action movie heroes, hidden characters, and multiple medals to earn between each stage. While the overall level count might look low, it’s a deceptive number, because you’ll need to put in some serious hours to complete Super Time Force. It’s certainly a game I can see myself returning to time and time again, and definitely an Xbox One and XBLA title that shouldn’t be missed.