Game Reviews

Timeloop

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Timeloop
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As we've learnt from films such as Back to the Future and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, time travel is tricky. You could end up shooting your grandfather or hooking up with your mother.

At least in Timeloop your only issues are saving mad scientists and their cats who have been trapped in their space station laboratories when the power went down.

As Nik, the janitor robot, your goal is to work your way through 32 labs of increasingly fiendish puzzlement, opening the doors and rescuing everyone within the available time.

The gameplay itself is conceptually straightforward. Each of the locked doors needs to be opened by your interaction with various pieces of broken equipment. You tap anywhere on the screen to get Nik to move there and tap on any piece of equipment to get him to interact and fix it. Once working, each previously locked red door turns green and will open as you approach.

That wouldn't make much of the game, however, so you have to deal with doors that require the simultaneous attentions of at least two janitorial robots to open. You meet this requirement by hitting the timeloop button, which takes you back to your starting position and time and gifts you with another Nik to control. Obviously, the actions you accomplished with the original Nik are then repeated and shown by a ghost form.

This enables a range of interactions to be built up until you end up dealing with multiple versions of Nik and layering each new one's activity on top of the previous ones.

In keeping with this challenge, you'll come up against doors that require up to four different consoles to be fixed before they will open, as well as doors that need you to use objects like a blow torch or to transfer a code from a broken computer to your mobile phone.

And it's significant in the case of the latter that while each version of Nik has all the objects possessed by the others, to open coded doors you have to use the Nik who actually transferred the code to his phone.

What really makes Timeloop difficult, though, is you have estimate how much time each version of Nik needs to fix each console before moving onto their next task in the level. Then you have to work how these timings interlink together in terms of the timelooped Niks.

It's this that supplies the game's replayability as you’ll first complete each lab with mere seconds to spare at best, earning the lowest bronze award. Working out how to shave seconds off each task and getting your Niks working like clockwork is required if you hope to be rewarded with gold status.

Helping you to judge this, each timeloop is metered by its own timer, which counts down in the top left of the screen. Once it hits zero, the next timeloop is automatically triggered. This gives you a basic schedule to complete a lab. You can manually trigger a timeloop by hitting the timeloop button in the bottom right of the screen, too, and this is required to gain higher scores.

Of course, you can't just keep firing off loops either: each level has a limited number available and once these are used up and the final counter hits zero it's game over if you haven't rescued all the cats and the mad scientist.

Timeloop's basic concept is well constructed and robust. It does throw up some issues though. For one thing, as you get further into the game, the more failures you'll have to experience before you succeed. This can be becoming frustrating as the more complex levels require you to explore the level to work out how the doors and broken equipment are connected, as well as not making any mistakes with any of your Niks.

It's a shame, then, that the controls aren't smoother. I found myself crashing Niks into the side of even open doors, which slows down your progress for no reason other than narrow doors meets fat finger syndrome. It's also annoying that you can only scroll around the level to see what's going on by pausing the game as this makes it significantly harder to work on the timings required.

In such a manner, you do have to be committed player to continue playing through to the end once you're over halfway through the 32 available labs.

Still, the freshness of the concept, the pleasant presentation, and the fact most levels are actually easier to complete than they first appear mean Timeloop is worth checking out, particularly if you're into logic puzzles and lateral thinking.

Timeloop

Timeloop's neat time travel concept is well combined with a smooth learning curve to provide some fresh puzzle gameplay experiences
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