Super Time Force
There are some design techniques with game design that I absolutely love. A majority of these design techniques are found in recent indie games. Big beautiful pixels, chunky chip tune music, side-scrolling gameplay – these are the things in games that I will never tire of. It goes without saying then, that when I discovered the retro indie shooter ‘Super Time Force’, that I had to have it.
The first indie game published through the ID@Xbox program (Microsoft’s new indie publishing program, read more here), Super Time Force combines the frantic gameplay of old-school bullet hell shooters like Contra with the time-control mechanics from games like Braid and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. While I feel it relies on it’s time-control mechanics too much, it’s a fun game that will appeal it’s target audience.
Super Time Force sees players assume control of the Super Time Force, a time-traveling military unit led by Commander Repeatski, the most decorated soldier of 198X. Throughout their adventures, the Super time Force will encounter robots and drones, a cybernetic Tyrannosaurus Rex, and even defeat an asteroid. As you may have guessed, the game is pretty eccentric – okay, it’s downright nutty at the best of times. Humour is a big part of Super Time Force’s appeal, and it manages to find the right amount of clever pop references and humour, similar to Retro City Rampage.
Gameplay-wise, STF is like a spiritual successor to classic shooters like Contra. Players travel from left to right throughout various locations shooting anything that moves. Thanks to some clever enemy and level design, even a single enemy can prove a challenge. This isn’t Metal Slug, where you can begin the majority of levels running into the fray of battle mashing the shoot button and dispatching dozens of enemies without a care – you will need to exercise caution.
To aid the player in surviving the bullet hell world of Super Time Force, the player is given time-control powers. These include slowing down time, rewinding time and combining other techniques to fight along side previously recorded actions you have done. The old shooter mechanic of dying from a single shot is present, but losing a life is not the end in STF. Instead, you have a finite amount of “Time Outs”, which is an ability to rewind time up to 30 seconds earlier. You can continue as that character, or switch to another character (if they are better suited to that particular situation). Should you manage to save your previous recording’s life, you will absorb that character and receive a power up. It’s a cool little mechanic.
Now while I would like to sing Super Time Force’s praises for the entirety of this review, I can’t. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the game (it’s great), but I found myself unable to play it for great lengths of time. For one thing, the game relies on it’s clever time-control powers too much. Some levels are so nuts, that if feels like you’re editing gameplay footage, and not actually playing the game. Run, die, rewind. Run, die, rewind. This wouldn’t be so insufferable if there weren’t these giant segments of being forced to use the mechanic, such as giant walls and locked doors that require three team members to shoot the ever-living mould out of it. At first it felt like the time powers were a well-integrated mechanic to use at your discretion, but they become tired when your entire experience of a level is marred by constantly using those same powers.
- Gorgeous retro style
- Fun bullet hell that will appeal to a wide audience
- Time control powers are fun (at first)
- Difficulty may hinder some people’s enjoyment
- Over-use of time-control powers.
While Super Time Force is a great little indie title, its reliance on its own cleverness can make the game feel tired well before the end of the game. This is a shame as the game ticks all the boxes with it’s design and premise, I just wish I wasn’t being forced to constantly use the same thing that appealed to me about the game. Sometimes, less is more.
Score : 6.5/10