Max Payne X Hotline Miami.
In the 1980s, a mad scientist by the name of Mr. Time has enslaved the world with his time-manipulating powers. A rogue organization that employs our player character, has created a time machine with the goal of reversing all of that. In each level, the objective is to undermine Mr. Time’s operation by stealing intel, recruiting defectors, and killing VIPs – all the while ‘gunning’ through his henchmen.
Time Recoil’s unique mechanic is the slowing down of time when a guard is killed. When kills happen during this slow-down period, a combo can start that opens up abilities such as dashing through thin walls, an area of effect explosion, or the highest combo reward – stopping time for several seconds. For the player to survive a level, they need to be in slow-mo for the majority of the time, because the guards’ reactions are quick and only one bullet is needed to kill our hero.
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), XB1, PC
Price I’d Pay: $5
Shooting guns in slow motion is never a bad idea for a game. It makes the player feel powerful and in control. In this game, it also adds to the strategy of some levels. Certain enemies can only be killed in slow-mo, like the shield-wielding guards who can only be killed from behind. Other hazards like lasers and mines can also only be conquered in slow-mo (the mines are still very dangerous, which was a constant annoyance).
The game tips its toe in the puzzle arena, but doesn’t quite fit there. In some levels, there is quite obviously a strategy that must be used that pairs with the player’s abilities. Levels that leaned into this – that made me think – were much more entertaining than the ones that didn’t.
A major design choice that diminishes Time Recoil’s puzzle potential is random gun drops. In a level, the first guard you kill may drop an assault rifle (which can shoot through walls), greatly altering the player’s approach to that level. This adds unnecessary randomness to a game that features time trials for its levels, which should be uniform and deliberately designed.
Unsurprisingly, a game about time travel has a lot of expository gobbledygook. Before each level, the head boss or a scientist will explain what needs to be done in a dry and meandering way. All I could really think about during these moments was how stupid time travel is, and that I just want the next level to start. Short, player-controlled flashbacks sometimes happen and in each, I didn’t have the slightest clue of what was being conveyed. The game would have been as good, if not better, without the time-travel plot – Max Payne shoots in slow motion without a time machine.
Many aspects of Time Recoil show potential, but the only part that is actualized is its gameplay. The typically confusing time-travel plot impedes enjoyment as does the randomness in levels, which nearly diminishes that stellar gameplay.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.