Make “time” for this Metroidvania
After about 5 minutes of playing Timespinner, I felt this was a Chasm reskin (read my thoughts on Chasm here). After 30 minutes, I was ready to call it quits over performance issues (I played on the Vita). Overall, this was not a good start to a game I had been looking forward to playing.
Timespinner was announced 4 years ago via Kickstarter. Developed by Lunar Ray Games, Timespinner is yet another indie platformer to come out in 2018 (good thing these indie games are cheaper than AAA games because I’ve been buying a LOT of them). The thing is, this is not just another platformer. Several hours with this phenomenal Metroidvania game and I went from wanting to delete this game and skipping writing this review altogether to picking up my Vita every chance I get.
Timespinner has you in control of Lunais, a young girl destined to be a Time Messenger. She is to go back in time to warn her people of the impending danger in her present time. Obviously, all does not go as planned and Lunais goes back a lot further…wait, is this not the plot of every time travel movie ever? Anyway, Lunais decides now to just kill the bad guy to prevent all of this from happening (ok, this is the plot of the aforementioned movies too).
If you have ever played a Castlevania game, you will immediately notice it’s influences in Timespinner. Two weapons, back dash, leveling up as you go, constantly respawning enemies, and multiple paths through the levels. Timespinner is not just a measly clone though. The weapons system is exceptionally deep for a 2D side-scrolling platformer. You equip two orbs which change the type of attack you can do. You can mix and match the orbs or equip two of the same. I mostly ran with two swords but you can add a hammer orb or a fire orb or even a lightning orb which felt like an homage to the whip from Castlevania. Lunais also has a magic attack which costs aura, the games version of MP or mana. You also gain access to a familiar or pet who accompanies you on your journey. As I am currently only in my first playthrough, I have access to three familiars but have used the first one you acquire the whole time.
Did you think I forgot about the time travel? It is not just a plot point but an ability you can use as you play. Lunais has both the ability to travel back and forth in time and to stop time. As you travel from past to present and back as part of the story, the environment will change. A gate that exists in the present is no longer there once you destroy it in the past or finding a water breathing mask in the future will let you dive into the water in the past. The ability to stop time is not just to freeze your enemies and avoid attacks. For one, freezing time also disables your ability to hit the enemies. You can still attack them but nothing will happen. Freezing them in mid-air though does make them stepping stones to out of reach platforms. Once I picked up on this little trick, I was backtracking to areas to reach more loot.
Personally, I enjoy the art style employed in Timespinner. It is not for everyone but it seems to be the trend lately in many of these indie games. The music is varied enough that I even thought about buying the soundtrack. The controls are very responsive although the default button layout was not for me. As I have not played on the PS4, I can only speak for the Vita version. Luckily, all of the abilities can be remapped to your liking. The story was engaging and unlike some time travel tales, did not become muddled. There was no time paradox laws or anything of that sort to sift through.
As I mentioned, I played Timespinner on my Vita. While there are numerous technical issues, this is a must-buy game. Furthermore, Bodie Lee (founder of Lunar Ray Games) held an AMA on Reddit in which he acknowledges the framerate issues and hitches that he was hoping to be able to patch in the near future. He did apologize about the lack of cross-save which apparently was not picked up on until after the game went through certification. While some will be unhappy with this response, at least he was up front and honest. My biggest complaint about the Vita version is that the map is extremely tiny. I understand that the Vita has a smaller screen but a zoom feature could have been implemented.
Timespinner is an engaging platformer with near endless exploration. Albeit, light on the challenge (at least on normal mode), the combat is fun and late game exploration just add to the replayability. This is another must-buy Metroidvania added to the already expansive list in 2018. As a cross-buy title, I look forward to playing on the PS4 and going for that Platinum trophy.
I tell Dad jokes much to my wife’s chagrin. I love all games. I am really bad at fighting games. I co-host Nerds Gone Platinum every Tuesday night at 9PM EST on www.youtube.com/ngrradio. E-mail the show at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us at NG_Platinum or call into the show at (929) 333-5762.. I can be found on PSN, Twitter and Instagram at Gimpyjayy and emailed at email@example.com.