About This Game
With her family murdered in front of her and the ancient Timespinner device destroyed, Lunais is suddenly transported into a unknown world, stranded with seemingly no hope of return. Using her power to control time, Lunais vows to take her revenge on the evil Lachiem Empire, but sometimes the course of history isn’t quite as black and white as it seems…
Explore an intricate, connected world with beautifully drawn and detailed pixel art environments. Traverse between the barren present and luscious past of Lachiem, collecting elemental magic orbs and combining their power to destroy enemies with blades and spells. Befriend mysterious creatures called Familiars, such as the adorable dream dragon Meyef, and train them to aid you in battle. Test your skills and timing with intense boss battles, and you venture forth to take on the Emperor himself!
- Stop time to evade foes, use them as platforms and solve puzzles
- Discover a lovingly-crafted, beautiful pixel art world and uncover a rich story universe
- Clobber enemies with Magic Orbs found throughout the world, which grow in power the more you use them
- Befriend mysterious Familiars and train them to aid you in battle
- Take on challenging boss battles with an emphasis on skill, timing and dodging
- Locate hidden areas and treasures through secret walls and platforming puzzles
- Invite a second player to join the adventure by controlling Lunais’ Familiar in local co-op mode
- Gothic PS1-style soundtrack by Jeff Ball (composer for Tiny Barbarian DX and violinist for Steven Universe)
- Full gamepad support on Windows, Mac & Linux
- OS: Windows XP
- Processor: Dual Core
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: DirectX 9.0c compatible, PixelShader & Vertex Shader 1.1
- DirectX: Version 9.0
- Storage: 400 MB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
Here’s my thoughts.
The gameplay is solid, the difficulty was (for me) not that hard, but I played on normal since that’s the hardest you can pick at the start. Jumping, attacking and everything feels tight. Some weapons are clearly broken/overpowered but that’s later in the game.
The pace of the game was decent, there was a slump in the mid-point that I was like.. uh what now? But I just had to find one item and it was back on track.
Now.. the story.. It has its ups and downs.. It starts simple enough, but in the end I was more or less over it. Completing all the quests grants you a bit of extra insight into the homebase characters.
Everyone just starts talking about their sexuality out of nowhere. This game seems obsessed with such subjects.
Oh well, tl;dr
If you like Castlevania, you’ll like the gameplay.
Timespinner is your typical late-90s Metroidvania JRPG, starring a Protagonist who really hates lamps.
But is that everything to it? Not quite. Timespinner has a lot going on, so let’s break it down:
Music – Every area has a distinct theme, and most are super cool. The soundtrack strikes a good balance between "Wow I enjoy listening to this" and not actively distracting you from the level. Thankfully, I got the OST as part of Kickstarter Pledge. There are definitely a couple songs I’ll be listening to outside of gameplay.
The World – As you progress through the game, you’ll swap back and forth between past and present. The maps are nearly identical, though the effects of 1000 years are quite visible. In certain places, things you do in the past will have an effect on the future. It’s pretty neat to see these little touches, even the ones that aren’t tied directly to the plot.
Art – As mentioned earlier, this game is big on the late 90s aesthetic. And it looks great. The 32bit inspired pixel art would look right at home on the SNES. The sprite animations are smooth and elegant, and most enemies have several animations, adding a real vitality to each enemy. The protag also has a gorgeous, floaty movement to her, along with some cool looking (though impractical) animations. Turning around after running, and the double jump both stand out as really neat animations. Enemy designs in general are cool too, especially how enemies in the future are clearly based on enemies in the past. This a cool homage to early JRPGs, where to save space, tougher enemies would be recolors of earlier foes.
Story – In the beginning, the story begins as you’d expect from the era this game is emulating. The protagonist lives in a village with her family, is attacked by an Evil Empire who wants their magic powers, and swears vengeance when her family dies. But as the story progresses, plot is revealed both through character interaction as well as collectible journals and memories peppered throughout the various areas. You come to find that the story of the Lachiem Empire (and the universe itself) is a bit more complication than it seemed initially.
Controls/Movement – The movement is tight and precise, the character nearly always does exactly what you want. In certain situations, I found the knockback to be incredibly annoying though.
Bosses: Bosses are fun to fight, and have a clear pattern to learn. Every boss can be cleared without taking damage, and doing so will unlock a symbol next to the boss in the bestiary.
Lamps – There is a huge variety of lamps to destroy, thus helping to fulfill the protagonist’s vow to Kill All Lamps. Additionally, the drops are smart. If you’re low on sand, you’ll get sand, otherwise you’ll get money. Thus, you don’t have to worry about getting a ton of sand when you’re full and need money, or getting money when you desperately need sand. Side note, lamps ALWAYS drop something, and thus are more reliable for grinding money than enemies. So get smashing!
Merchant Crow – Merchant Crow is the best.
Puzzles – The Time Freeze mechanic is interesting, but I think more could have been done with it. Most puzzles boil down to "wait until enemy is in the right place, freeze time, jump on enemy, jump to higher platform." By the end of the game, this becomes "do the prior several times in a row, while hoping you don’t get knocked down all the way to the bottom by the enemy as it rises high enough, and/or run out of sand from trying." I would have liked something more complicated as the game progressed (while also not being controllersmashingly annoying), and a bit more variety or additional time powers where you could freeze only one enemy and not others, or speed up, slow down, rewind.
Drop Rates – Certain quests require you to get drops from monsters and bring them back to an NPC. Most of these are fairly easy, but some are annoyingly rare. One case in particular stands out, as it took me maybe an hour of killing mushrooms to get the drops I needed.
Inventory – You can only carry Nine of anything. But you keep picking stuff up even if you’re full, they seemingly just disappear. It would be nice to be able to hold onto extra stuff to sell later.
Combat/Orb Variety – This is the biggest problem in the game, for me. There is so much potential here, but it just seems to have been handled clumsily. The orb system is cool, and you end up with a lot of orbs. That said, you’re going to find a couple you like, and stick with those. It’s just easier than constantly swapping out to keep up with enemy weaknesses and leveling new orbs. The game gives you some methods to deal with the variety, including being able to equip two different orbs at a time, as well as a "Jewelry Box" which lets you swap between three preset loadouts (including orbs, necklace, and ring). The jewelry box is a good idea, but I think a selection wheel that pops up when you press a button (probably the analog sticks, one for each orb) would have worked great for the orbs.
In addition, there’s very little reason to wield two different orbs at once, other than to level them both (at half the rate). I think it would have been cool if there were synergies, where wielding two different orbs had the effects merge somehow. A sword that crackles with lightning, or little ice tornadoes.
Most of the early orbs do the same thing. Combat tends to be "Stand this far away, and pummel your enemy until they die. Move if they move." A few orbs give you an increased arc of attack (and look super cool), but most are just a basic attack that reaches a bit away from you, leading you to swing until dead. Later orbs give you some fun variety, including ranged, autotarget, and multihit attacks, but it’s a while before you get them.
That said, there are also various necklaces that allow you to use a ranged superattack, each based on a different orb. Unfortunately, you can’t combo these with orb attacks, because swinging your orbs will cancel the charge. At first, you can’t use these very often because they consume Aura. Aura slowly refills, but it takes a while. As you progress, you’ll find Max Aura boosts, which let you use your super more often. I mostly either used the super as an instakill to get through an area faster, or toughed it out smacking the enemy with orbs and taking a few hits in the process. I think something where the spells are a secondary weapon rather than a super would be nice, and could be used in combination with your standard melee to create a flow to battle. "hit hit, release charge to blast the enemy with the secondary", combo attacks like that. Lower the power and up the use rate. That’s clearly not what the dev was going for here though. In addition, using the Super gives you orb experience for the orb the necklace is based on, not the orbs you have equipped, leading into my next point. As a side note though, holding the charge on a super draws money towards you, which is a nice touch.
Finally, levelling orbs is annoying. Endgame orbs are more powerful to compensate, but if you have a favorite orb, you’re going to need to grind. Since you can wield two orbs at once, each orb gets a point. Unfortunately, it’s based solely on kills. A lategame enemy is worth the same as the very first enemy you fight. There is a way to level orbs at the Alchemist NPC, but the item used to do so is rare, and gives 5 levels regardless of current level. So it’s better to use these items for higher level boosts, when you don’t want to kill 100 enemies to level the orb again.
Timespinner is a fun game, especially since it’s apparently the creator’s first major game, based on a university project. It does have its flaws, but I certainly had fun playing it. I’m looking forward to more from Lunar Ray Games.
Interestig world. Fun to play, really scratched the metroidvania itch. Not overly difficult (incredibly mild spoiler: there’s a new game + for those wanting a solid challenge). Lots of weapon/spell options. Pseudo co-op.
Cons: Sometimes the attack felt clunky due to it restricting movement. Many weapon options that didn’t see much use. Would have liked to see higher damage and the more need to be selective for weapons in the boss fights as for some it was possible to just ignore mechanics and just go ham. Lastly, I’m all for social acceptance but when every character in the game is gay/trans, it felt a little forced. Didn’t detract much from the game, more just a "we got your point already" kinda thing.
Again, worth the money and time spent. Hope you enjoy it.
First of all, what worked well was a delight. The flow of gameplay and ambiance draws you in and keeps you entertained. Controls feel good, a classic moveset largely unchanged from its inspiration source. You are left feeling like you are playing a SOTN sequel. The scene design was a good balance of new ideas sprinled into a Metroid/Castlevania baseline. The music was by far my favorite part: an absolutely flawless walk on the line of copyright-safe and carbon-copy of SOTN (for many of the most iconic background songs). I loved every second of the sountrack, and found it to be the most rewarding element in discovering a new location of the map. Opening the door to a new area to hear the reixed version of SOTN’s catacombs track was more exciting than anything else I did once I was in the area. But despite this being an overwhelming positive for me, it leads us into the stuff that didn’t work. Because honestly I WAS more excited about the music than anything else.
What didn’t work in this game? There is plenty to go around here, and none of it quite ruins the experience. It just leaves you at the end of the game wishing just about everything was a little bit better (and some things could have been much better). Where the gameplay feels smooth, it is also incredibly bland. It starts you off with a limited arsenal, and keeps you interested briefly with some new upgrades as you journey; but the upgrades just fizzle out as they are thrown in. While they are very helpful if you struggle with enemies, they are in no way more fun or interesting as you get more. I found myself only interested in one attack orb, and really not needing anything else. As far as struggling, there is some basic learning curve to new enemies, but if you struggle at any point in the game I would be surprised. It is incredibly easy, as every enemy is either easily dispatched or simply avoidable. I would not mind this easy-mode if "hard mode" was an option from the start, but "hard more" is locked behing a first playthrough that leaves you unsatisfied. Boss fights are fun, but not enough to redeem the subpar action element. The exploration is more where the game shines, and ties pretty well into the story; however, again, there is little to no reward for any of this exploration apart from moving the plot forward inch by inch. Any equipment that is picked up feels fairly useless, and doesn’t end up adding anything to the game. I didn’t use a single item I found, and didn’t have to grind for either "gold" or experience a single time in order to completely dominate every boss in the game. This is far from the SOTN experience.
Now, unfortunately my biggest problem with the game is actually something that should be very dear to me. I am an incredibly liberal and progressive-minded person, and even I was nauseated by the blatant LGBT+ agenda of this game. I hate using that phrase, as I strongly oppose treating people as a movement (LGBT is not some new thing being pushed on people, it’s just an understanding of people being allowed to be people), but simply put, the game feels like it has an agenda that is being shouted at you. I in no way mean this to be a negative as far as the content; it is purely a flaw in execution. The inclusivity in this game is first and foremost a positive thing. I was overjoyed to see so much diversity, and love the idea of normalizing what is now seen as a fringe character type. But the portrayal of nearly every LGBT+ element was so awkwardly jammed into the story that you are left thinking "why is this happening?" A cutscene with a conversation that ends is dragged out further by a character bluring out that she used to be a boy, and you wonder "why did she just tell ‘me’ that?" If the world of this game is meant to be accepting of this, there is no reason to blurt it out, and if the world is meant to be harsh on that kind of detail, you need to make that clear before using this character’s ‘outing’ as a tool for showing that in the first place. You are just told a thing, and it feels unimportant. And this begins a series of cutscenes that repeat this feeling: characters deliberately outing themselves left and right in a misguided attempt to build the idea that the world has already normalized this. There is no established reason for any of this information to be relevant, whether you look at it from a world-building standpoint or a character-development standpoint. As a player, you are given no prior reason to be interested in the sexuality of any of these characters. There is no subtlety to any of it, and subtlety is the key ingredient in normalization. A writer needs to make characters you should care about, give the player reason to wonder, and offer answers naturally rather than just blurting them out. One exception to the shortcomings serves as a great example of how all of this could have been done better: The polyamory of Lunais’s tribe was well founded as a key structural element to their survival. The concept was brought up naturally in the story-telling and concurrent with the player’s interest in Lunais’s lineage. The resulting knowledge of Lunais’s tribe being polyamorous and non-hetero-bound felt natural and important. The player is left feeling that they know the character-group better. Nearly every other reference to sexuality in the game is simply shouted at you with no established interest in the information. There is no reason to care, and therefor no cofort in accepting the knowledge, regardless of the content. In a self-defeating error, the writers took the very thing they wanted to normalize, and made it as awkward as possible, even for those who are accepting and inclusive to LGBT+ reality.
But again, I can’t stress enough that none of these flaws are dealbreakers. This game is still fun and interesting; and the incredibly diverse cast makes you happy to live in a world that’s changing for the better. I am currently trying to justify a second play-through, as the first few scenes of the newly-unlocked "nightmare mode" are simply not the difficulty jump I was hoping for.
That said, this is a review, so probably want to hit the pros/cons:
– Gameplay is fluid and fun
– Bosses are fair and interesting (every boss has patterns to their attacks, that change as they lose life)
– Monster diversity keeps you on your toes, and placement is well thought out in 99% of the areas.
– Graphics are lovely.
– Music is good, and doesn’t feel repetative, as you’re rarely in one area’s "music biome" for more than a few loops.
– Multiple endings are well done (with varying degrees of ‘good/bad’ outcomes depending on what you’ve done in the game – and how you choose to resolve it)
– New Game+ mode & Bonus Difficulty added for beating the game
– You can reload your save after beating the game, to try out different endings as well (so you don’t have to go through and redo everything to try another ending)
– Makes ‘rules’ and sticks to them, somethin a lot of indie titles oddly miss the mark on (a boss door is always a boss door & if you can see it, you can reach it – being the 2 most important)
– Default controls are for the most part ‘good’ – though you may want to swap a couple.
– Without spoilers, while I support the point of the sidequest story, part of it feels a bit shoe-horned in (I think it’s due to a ‘complexity of side-story vs complexity of main-story’ issue) – it’s not a game breaker, but I feel it will be talked about when post-release reviews hit, and I do feel it is a bit heavy handed.
Game is still excellent, and that this is really the only ‘issue’ I had throughout the entire game, even after getting 3 endings – it should say something about the amazing quality at play here.
You can check out the LP here – if you are trying to avoid spoilers, I would recommend only watching the first 2 episodes (it gets spoilery from #3 onward):
Art is very beautiful and diverse enough to really make you feel like you are in new areas of the game when discovery new zones.
To accompany the great art is the music for each zone. The composition really brings you back to some great games of the snes and early playstation era of games
Gameplay feel is amazing. The character is very responsive and the platforming never feel bad. The combat is well diverse with it’s many combinations of weapons, spells, and rings.
Story is direction to you in multiple forms, both in reading and discovering documents as well as dialogue through quests.
Boss design to me was a little lacking. I felt as though once I found the right orb I could just stand in front of the boss and mash that orb until it died. If you are a seasoned platform vet perhaps go in on nightmare from the start. Though the boss designs were nice and different I just feel like design gameplay wise they were simple.
Elephant in the room. I’m going to preface this with, I’m a CIS white male. The game has a lot of LGBTQ+ themes. Now THAT’S NOT A CON. I’m all for the furthering of inclusion and narratives that support that inclusivity. I’m playing a game, I want to be able to put my feet in shoes I don’t walk in every day, it’s one of the many many great things about games, however in this game it can be a little distracting at times. At some point in the game I felt as though every interaction with a character was the dialogue telling me about this LGBTQ topic. The narrative just started to lose me and it felt really force and in my face after a certain point. Again I want to play as character I myself am not. I’m all for this inclusion however I just feel as though the written got carried away with this one. A little overzealous perhaps because they were excited to include it. I’m happy they got to shoot their shot and get this wonderful game out there I just think the writing got a little hamfist there for awhile.
Overall I’m very happy with this game. Took me around 10 hrs to complete after finishing everything but the nightmare mode achievement there about. I took my time and really took in the atmosphere because they did a great job at building it. I was really starting to get involved in the story telling of the kingdoms. I’m happy I backed this wonderful game and I’m hoping others grab it as well.
I hope you found this review helpful. Happy gaming.
Timespinner is not without it’s merits, though: The game looks incredible and the soundtrack is also very good. It also makes a very good first impression and after two hours I thought I was playing a great game (that was also tastefully playing homage to a great series). However, as I progressed further, it became clear that the actual game design was much weaker than the (amazing) audiovisual design. In short, the main flaws are that:
1) Lunais levels up far too quickly,
2) Many of the orbs (the weapons used in the game) have redundant effects,
3) The various areas, while they have their own unique look, feel identical to play.
As a result, the challenge quickly disappeared from the game and it devolved into a tedious experience of doing the same things over and over again.
In short, it feels like the developer understands how a good Metriodvania should look but doesn’t really understand what makes a Metroidvania game great. It also feels like Timespinner was rushed to completion given how poorly balanced the game is.
All that being said, Timespinner isn’t a bad game, but it’s also not a good game and it’s impossible to recommend at this price point, given that it’s the same price as Ori and Hollow Knight. It could become worthy of consideration in a sale, though I would not recommend it unless it was available at 75% off.
So why am I not recommending this game?
Because that’s pretty much all the game has to offer.
– Most of the abilities you get you only use in like 3-5 spots in the entire game. The time stopping mechanic is useful for getting to places too high up to jump to, as you can jump of frozen enemies’ heads as platforms. But then, what you get access to is a single health up, a piece of equipment, or an item that you’ll only (optionally) need nearing the end of the story.
– The map doesn’t have many secrets and even the secrets that exist are just small rooms with an item or stat powerup.
– Nothing in this game is puzzling enough to even be remotely called a puzzle.
– You have many choices of equiment, abilities, etc., but you can get through the whole game using only a couple (and I’m not really that hardcore of a gamer either).
– The bosses are easy. The only real difficulty I had was with the first one and the last one (but only until I leveled up a little).
– Most of the dialogue is riddled with sexual innuendo and gender/sexuality stuff that falls in the TMI category. I don’t mind LGBT+ characters in video games, but this game represents them as if that’s the part that defines them as people. I learned more about the characters’ sexual exploits than their hobbies, their interests, their jobs, their history.
A lot of squandered potential.
So the best first. The art is spot on. You have an amazing world, brimming with intriguing design and visual interest. The aesthetic choices feel good and very alien, and the environments just give off the right feel consistently.
The music is solid! It’s got good tonal arrangement and everything just feels right in its place.
The characters! The characters feel real and alive, with their own principles and ways of looking at the world, as well as how they interact. Even the librarian feels good, being as bubbly about history as they are. Lunais also feels… good. Her character makes sense and I rarely felt like her goals were untethered to her experiences. A very good job!
The core gameplay. Motion feels good, combat flows well, and exploring can be quite fun! I like the restocking chests. It helps soften the pain of backtracking in the early game.
So yeah, the game is good where it really counts! I’d be excited to see a sequel, truly.
But, now for the bad. Starting from least bad to worst.
The characters… Yeah, a high point got muddled by a low point. Who these characters are is great! But eventually their development stops feeling less like real people and more like a sermon. If you’re LGBTQ, this is probably not a negative for you as there is a LOT of representation in this game. In fact, there is seemingly only one hetero-normative cis-gendered character in the entire game! And he’s a total♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ What went from touches of flavor here and there, fleshing out cultures and helping the world feel alive by having different principles and ideals turns into off-hand comments about how their sexual identity is shaped. And it all culminates into a big pow-wow where they all get together and basically discuss their sexual preferences and relationships. It’s a bit awkward. Glad folks are getting represented, but this is a bit heavy-handed, though your mileage may vary of course. A bit of a rant, but this is ‘least bad’ of the bad, so don’t read into it too much.
The story has some plot holes, I feel, or at least things that didn’t get tied up properly. The namesake of the game isn’t really properly explored, and the game seems to not be quite sure if it wants to be "shades of grey" or "good VS evil". I feel a lot of the theses of this game kind of eat each other. I could go into more detail but it’d get pretty spoilery.
Enemy variety – Once you reach the castle, enemies kinda get samey. Here’s this version in the past, here’s this version in the future. The enemies are well-designed, don;t get me wrong, but their utilization across the map gets a bit simple and repetitive.
The length – Honestly this game is over real fast. I feel a lot of the previous hiccups could have been smoothed out a lot if the game just had more space and time to do it in. That being said, some folks are going to be excited to hear that it can be done so quickly, but if you’re expecting a game that takes more than a day to beat, don’t be surprised when you don’t get it. Granted, I’d rather have a short game than one that pads simply for the sake of time.
Progression – EXP is a bit weird to me, stats aren’t fully explained, there’s a small pool of equipment, and things are slow to level up with minimal sense of actual improvement from level to level. I only ever used one familiar because switching felt like I’d be trading off the one I actually spent time to make good for one that’d be useless until I grinded for it.
So all in all, it was good! A solid game! Not great, but not a purchase I regret by any means. Would recommend to others on a case by case basis, but not to just anyone.
Hi, so if you don’t know me, I am playing through pretty much every Metroidvania on steam and I wanna lose a word or two on Timespinner.
The first hour of gameplay was pretty impressive and super fun, actually. You get thrown in a sweet revenge story (the world needs more revenge stories tbh), explore your typical Metroidvania-esque map, your character controls nicely, the combat is okay, there is also a cool time-stopping mechanic and the graphics look great.
Timespinner’s problems really start after 1-2 hours of playing and become more apparent the further you get into the game. Lets talk about problem number one: "The god of war syndrome" Duh-Duh-Duuuun!!
Many people who played through the new god of war probably noticed that the game gets easier instead of harder if you make some progress. In Timespinner it’s even worse. Even the postgame bosses are so ridiculously easy that you can literally stand next to them and mash the attack button until they die.
Which brings us to problem number 2: Most bosses feel half♥♥♥♥♥♥♥actually. It’s really hard to describe. Imagine someone took a sprite from Final Fantasy VI and put it into an action game. At least the first boss jumps at you…sometimes…I guess.
Let me give another example: This is the 3rd boss from I wanna Kill the Kamilia 2:
Here you fight a "picture" of Influka. This fight is interesting because the boss sometimes teleports you into different rooms with different challenges. Without those teleports the fight would be lame, boring and yeah, half♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ This is what the bosses in Timespinner feel like.
Some people would say: "Just play on hard, where’s the problem!?" Heck yeah, I would! If the game would let me play on hard but I have to beat it on normal first! Like, who the ♥♥♥♥ came up with that!? Later I found out, that there is a password to unlock the hard mode from the beginning. A. ♥♥♥♥ing. password. Enough said.
The exploration is okay. There are 2 maps: The past and the present. At some point early on in the game you have to burn vines in the past to open up some kind of petrified passage in the future. That gimmick was pretty cool but guess what: cool stuff like that will never really happen again. Those 2 maps could work so freaking well together, just writing about that, actually drives me mad.
Sometimes you have to stop the time and use enemy projectiles as platform to reach other areas. The timing was pretty tricky at times but when it worked, it felt like cheating. That was great. More of that, more vertical exploration! But these damn hallways….Oh boy, there are too many of them. Hallways with 3-4 enemies in them and nothing to do but dashing through. Come on, you can do better. Especially with a map as small as in Timespinner.
Phew. I think I’m done. I could write about the side-quests, side-stories, a recycled boss fight and how I didn’t really like all that stuff but other people were faster. So, yeah. That’s Timespinner. Onto the next Metroidvania.