Weekly Gaming: Super Time Force Ultra (Xbox One)

Having both Games with Gold and Playstation Plus is a genuine nightmare should you make sure to get each of their games monthly. That’s (at the minimum) 9 games every month constantly added to my overwhelming collection, and thats ignoring my PC collection where I also subscribe to Humble Monthly, and buy multiple Humble Bundles as and when they’re released. Why do I bring this up? Well, as a consequence of so many games being stockpiled, great games manage to slip through my hands, meaning that although I got them for free months, even years ago, I never get around to playing them.

Super Time Force Ultra just so happens to be one of those great games that slipped through. I recall playing just the tutorial when I first got my Xbox One almost 2 years ago now, and whilst I wasn’t necessarily hooked on the game in that short time, I was still intrigued. This week, I decided to give it a go, after hearing many players online say that they completed the game in around 4-5 hours. I had an afternoon spare after programming and cleaning, so why the hell not?

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The game starts off with the tutorial which instantly shows off all the games mechanics, some things are trivial, like the fact each character has different weapons/abilities, butt some things are extreme. Take for example the games core mechanic of rewinding time: this ability allows any character to press the B button to instantly start a rewinding mechanic. Wherever you choose, you can spawn a new character anywhere where the main character was, allowing for multiple shots on an enemy, or putting people in the paths of collectibles.

This Time Out feature is the highlight of the whole game, and an ability that will take the whole game to master. When I first started playing Super Time Force Ultra I felt overwhelmed: the amount of bullets and enemies on screen can be astronomical at times, and the timer certainly doesn’t help to alleviate any stress you may have. Once you get used to the Time Out feature (which is limited to a generous 30 uses), you start to realise how easy the game is, but also how well each level has been designed to take advantage of these multiple characters on screen at any one time.

It’s actually genius how a mechanic that brought me great stress at the beginning soon evolved into one of the most enjoyable parts of the game by far: I would genuinely hang around stages and waste time just to see if I could kill more enemies/get more loot whilst using as many time outs as possible.

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As was said before, each character has their own abilities and weapons, allowing you to mix and match multiple characters until your hearts content or you’ve defeated a boss how you would like to. Pressing X once on the controller will fire a simple attack, with holding it down and charging it released the character in questions special attack. I’ll be honest, the vast majority of the game I never used the standard attack: it’s just too hard having to constantly press one button when you can hold it down for a more powerful attack.

The story is somewhat funny, and involves a professor that has discovered time travel, and his future self, who has assembled a Super Time Force to make time adhere to what he wants it to (making the world more awesome as he says himself). Sergeant Repeatski (as he’s known – fantastic pun, if I may add), sets you and your team out to all manner of random and crazy points in time: one minute you’re fighting dinosaurs, the next you’re in a computer, and eventually you’ll even be ascending to heaven whilst fighting angels. It’s a ludicrous idea, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed; from start to finish I was wondering how the game was going to top it’s own humour. Suffice to say, it succeeded in making me chuckle quite regularly.

The levels are well played out and offer enough variety that no two scenes ever feel alike. You’re constantly having to think on your feet, which is fantastic when you have so much leeway in how many time outs you have should you accidentally die. Each time-out on a stage feels refreshingly new, with enemies dying ahead of you (from your previous attempts) and secrets found that otherwise wouldn’t have been.

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The boss fights are also absolutely fantastic, and take advantage of the time-out mechanic even more, making you repeat your fight against the boss over and over again until you get it perfectly using a combination of skill (from dodging the bosses attacks and placing your previous time-outs in the correct position) and firepower. I found the strategy of “place as many machine gunners around the stage as possible” a perfectly acceptable method that managed to get the job done consistently.

There’s plenty of reasons to keep coming back to levels well after you’ve finished them too. Glorbs (the games collectible which also gives you more time-outs) are hidden throughout levels, both within enemies and breakable objects. When you kill an enemy or break and object they came flying out in a semi-random direction, and should they touch the floor they’re useless. This breaking mechanic ties in well with the Time-out abilitiy, as it means you’re constantly replaying levels not only to build up enough firepower to kill enemies, but also collect Glorbs as they’re ejected.

It’s hard to nitpick anything bad about the game. I mean, after a while you could say the pacing and difficulty gets easy, but then the studio’s fixed this with their new ULTRA mode, where you need to save each time-out version of yourself otherwise you start a level again. If I really had to say a bad thing about the game, it would be that the basic three characters have plenty enough firepower and abilities to never use anyone else throughout the rest of the game. Yes, I messed with other characters; Cleo for example has an awesome boomerang ability which essential makes her untouchable, but for the most part I relied on my shooter, sniper, and shield.

As I said at the start of this review, it’s annoying owning so many games! Yes yes, I know, that’s a proper #firstworldproblem right there, but as more and more indie developers saturate the market with fantastic games, it’s going to be hard for everyone to play the standout achievements like Super Time Force. It genuinely is a mental platformer, one that takes you to your limits both in stress, but also enjoyment. If you find that you have Super Time Force in your library, give it a go, you will not be disappointed.

5/5

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