Time travel has been interpreted in many different ways. Going back in time could alter the future, change outcomes, and even wipe out someone’s existence. Now, what if you put time travel into a side scrolling shoot ’em up? Well, that’s exactly what is in the horizontal shooter, Zeit Squared.
You play as a small ship that travels from left to right while shooting enemies coming toward the ship. The ship is surrounded by a bubble that serves as a shield. The shield will grow and shrink depending on your ship’s health. You ship has health in a percentage up to 200. When it reaches 0, the game is over. Now how exactly do you gain and lose health? Well, that is one of the unique aspects of Zeit.
When your ship is hit by an enemy, you lose health. When your ship fires its weapons, it loses health. There are enemies that come across the screen that glow a blue aura. If you don’t destroy them before they fly past your ship, they will drain health as they fly by. Now, to counter act all these elements that make you lose health, you can gain health by destroying enemies as well as picking up health power ups. So it takes a good amount of strategy to successfully survive in Zeit.
The other large aspect of the game is the rewinding of time. As you play, your rewind counter slowly goes up. When the time is right, you can rewind time up to 4.2 seconds. When the rewind is over, your ship, as well as your enemies, are back to where they were so many seconds ago. The big difference is you now have a shadow ship of your self moving and shooting around the same areas that you were before you rewound time. Now you have a second ship helping you out. So let’s say you have a large string of enemies coming from the top of the screen as well as the bottom. Position your ship at the top and shoot the enemies there. Well, if you do that, you’ll lose health due to the bottom string of enemies getting by you, so rewind time. Now, your shadow is shooting the top enemies and you can now move your ship to the bottom to take care of the lower enemies. It’s a really nice concept that actually works and pays off if you learn to work it correctly.
Which brings me to my next point; you have to learn how to use this stuff. The game can actually get brutal, especially during boss fights. Your shadow not only serves as an extra shooting buddy, but you can also use it for special attacks. Shooting the shadow a number of times will cause it to explode and have a shockwave cover the screen killing enemies in the process. Later on in the game, you will unlock new weapons that alter both your main fire as well as your special attack that you can use with your shadow.
The game also features a point system that has a multiplier that increases with each kill you get. Getting hit or letting enemies get past you will decrease the multiplier. The scores are held on each stage as well as each world that you play on. This allows you to take on your friend’s top scores on the leaderboards in one stage or in a whole world.
The presentation is nice, but nothing too special. The music is your typical techno sounding mixture with small elements of rock mixed with space sounding appeals. The graphics are simple, but colorful and are still pretty cool when the craziness starts.
There are several modes of play that really change up the way you play the game. There is your standard arcade mode that has 16 levels that eases you into the gameplay with a nice tutorial level that shows you the ins and outs of the game. There is a score attack that allows you to choose a certain level and play for the top score on the leaderboards. One of my favorite modes is Wave mode. This is where you have an endless number of enemies that come at you. The gameplay is the same except that if an enemy gets past you and reaches the end of the left side of the screen, its game over. There is also a survival mode as well as a Tactics mode. Tactics mode consists of very quick levels that challenge you to make quick kills and allow certain enemies to go past you so that they come back around as more difficult enemies that are worth more points. There is also a challenge mode that sets up certain game variations for you to play.
I am playing this game on the PC and with all my PC games that I review I have to mention that the game does support controllers both game pad as well as the Xbox 360 controller. Steam has this game up on a pedestal with both Steam achievements as well as Steam cloud support and Steam leaderborads.
Zeit is a really ambitious take on the side scrolling shoot ’em up genre. The game’s difficulty can throw a few players off, but the game takes time to master. There are a ton of different modes to play in the game that will keep you busy for a good amount of time, all for $10. There is a lot of strategy involved when it comes to being good at the game, but if you give it time and learn the tricks of the trade, Zeit is actually a really enjoyable game.
Review copy provided by publisher.