Being both the developer and publisher of their games, 10tons Ltd. has been showing the Nintendo Switch quite the support. The people at 10tons love to come up with new ideas for the twin-stick shooter genre and they continue to do that with Time Recoil. There are some odd design choices on the tiniest level, but they don’t impact the core gameplay. Time Recoil is still a blast for people who like to test their reflexes.
Time Recoil takes the same engine used in Neon Chrome, the developer’s first game for Nintendo Switch. Whereas Neon Chrome had light rogue elements and flashier cyberpunk visuals, Time Recoil looks nearly the same, but strips away all rpg elements and focuses on straight shooting with the game’s main gimmick of being able to slow down time. Time Recoil plays as an isometric top-down shooter requiring the player to make use of strafing done with the left analog stick and aiming with the right analog stick, while shooting your weapon with Right Trigger and performing specials you have stored with Left Trigger. You will be required to go through levels and complete the certain objectives within each one. There are few variations as to what you must do, such as eliminating all of the targets or planting C4 explosives for example, but these objectives repeat themselves throughout the entirety of the game. Instead, the game focuses on the design of the levels and enemy locations. Ultimately, in every level regardless of objective, you want to kill as many enemies as possible within your line of sight to keep the time slowdown mechanic going for as long as possible. This will play to your advantage and is how you acquire specials.
Killing any enemy will briefly slow down time as well as displaying on-screen around your character a timer for when it ends. Each additional kill gains you extra time. Chaining a certain number of enemy kills grants you a special ability which you can store, but only be able to use it once. If you’ve managed to kill 4 enemies within that time span, you will get a special ability that allows you dash straight ahead in a line causing damage even being able to break through walls. If you decided to not use it and chain 6 enemy kills, you will gain a wider area of affect in the shape of a cone. 8 enemy kills in a row completes a full radius for you to use except this time you don’t dash and the special behaves like a grenade for which you can kill many targets who are farther away, particularly in another room behind walls. The ultimate reward for the biggest chain attack requiring at least 10 enemy kills freezes time completely which allows you to freely move around while every enemy remains as a statue. This effect doesn’t last very long so be aware of your surroundings when time returns to normal.
There isn’t much variety when it comes to artistic style. There a few types of levels you’re go through such as labs, warehouses and company buildings. So many of the people you come across all look the same. At the same time, I wasn’t entirely bothered by it as the game is really all about blazing through the levels. There is a main area you keep returning to in order to travel to the next level and it’s a small area where all your friendly NPC’s give you your next objective and explain why you need to time travel to the past. The game’s setting is the year 1987 and it has you traveling as far back as the 1970’s, though you would never notice otherwise if the game hadn’t have told you that information. What is noticeably 80’s is the techno music the game’s soundtrack consists of and it’s one that’s enjoyable. Strong synthesizers and percussion was good enough and never seemed overplayed. Even though there’s just a handful of tracks they are enjoyable nonetheless. The other handful of things are chapters, being 5 total for the game’s story. There are multiple levels within each chapter, however. The game will take you roughly 5 hours to complete.
The main story doesn’t necessarily take a backseat as there’s a constant narrative before and after each level. It involves time traveling so that alone can be a hard subject to tackle when it comes to storytelling. If done poorly it can be a turn-off. Time Recoil doesn’t show us anything new when it comes to time travel. The story is rather generic and in that regard it is neither terrible nor amazing. It’s mainly there to push the game forward. The gist of it is an evil mad scientist is using a device known as the Time Eater and is trying to control the region of Europe while it’s your job to travel back in time and stop the actions of the people who are involved. You travel to different years between 1970’s to 1980’s but there’s literally no point in keeping track of what year it is for any of the levels and comes off as a development choice just to say we traveled back in time.
This gameplay is trial & error. You will most likely die quite a few times in order to find the right pattern. This may frustrate some players, but it becomes rewarding when you get down the right pattern for each level. At times it may seem like the game isn’t balanced properly, but that’s mainly due to the controls. They could be more polished. I find that playing with the Joy-Con analog sticks give you much tighter aiming than the Pro Controller’s analog sticks. Sometimes enemies will start shooting you just as they come on screen and it’s insta-death. There is a constant red line of sight for shooting and sometimes that blends in with the environment which can be hard to tell where you’re shooting which results in player death. There’s occasional slowdown when it comes to framerate and it’s very noticeable, but it only happens when there’s way more explosions going on than necessary — but sometimes those explosions are necessary so you can’t stop the frame dips.
Just some nitpicking here which don’t tamper with the overall experience. Two things: You can bump into people and they’ll slide all over the place essentially moving them around the map. The other is many levels have boxes/crates which you can melee to smash open. They offer nothing of value such as ammo.
When you’re done with the game. There’s a Time Trial mode. There’s also 2 additional difficulty settings which adds for replay value. This is a game meant for twitch-based actions and speed-running. The game is a bit on the short side and could use more polish, but there were definitely bursts of fun.