Time Recoil is what you would get if you added bullet time into Hotline Miami and replaced mindless brutality with casual time travel: A solid twin-sticks shooter where you run and gun your way through a series of challenging levels utilising a variety of special powers and chrono-manipulation.
Time Recoil follows the story of Alex as she hopscotches her way through time and space in order to prevent the evil Mr. Time taking control of the timeline, unsurprisingly enough, and therefore the world. Alex must utilise her time bending special powers and resources of the resistence to navigate Mr. Time’s installations searching for valuable intel, people to recruit and devices to sabotage.
Bullet time is a hit or miss kind of gimmick. It either works really well (Stranglehold) or really badly (Bulletstorm) with no real in between. Time Recoil is one of the lucky few Stranglehold-esque titles. Bullet time activates whenever you kill an enemy or “evil mad scientist”, then chaining kills during said slow-down allows you to activate a special ability; from a simple dash that travels through walls (and explodes people in your path) to a time freeze that allows you to move with relative impunity. You don’t have to kill everyone between you and the exit or objective but it certainly helps, guards will shoot to kill on sight and they don’t fire a warning shot.
Time Recoil is brutal. One shot is all it takes to kill you but that’s all it takes to kill most enemies too. However the guards tend to have more ammo and have the superior numbers so the best (and only) way to fight is to fight smart, approaching every situation with a tactical and clinical precision. You have to plan your moves, your skills and most importantly your ammo wisely. Running out of rounds in a room full of bad guys is a pretty terrible place to be in, made even worse when your the time slowing effect runs out because you can’t kill anyone and you’re suddenly way deader than you were 2 seconds ago.
You have to place your shots carefully and use your powers to maximum effect wherever possible. I often found myself attempting a level multiple times in order to succeed, there’s a lot of trial and error but the fast load times and fun gameplay don’t make it an issue. Figuring out the most efficient path through the enemies is kind of the whole point. Sure it can be frustrating at times having to attempt the same level over and over but it never feels impossible, just difficult and that’s exactly what you want. I played through the game on Normal mode and that was hard enough, I dread to think what the game will be like on Hard or “Murderous”!
Now I admit I have never been a big fan of Hotline Miami but it did have a kick ass soundtrack and art-style, something which Time Recoil also shares in. A great soundtrack is always a mark of a great game. It’s easy to lose yourself in the beat of the music and you settle into a rhythm, making navigating incoming gunfire that little bit easier. Nighthop’s soundtrack enhances the game’s arcadey feel and the 80s vibe, you almost feel like you’re playing a video game adaptation of Timecop, just without the hulking mass of Van Damme.
Like Timecop, the story isn’t exactly enthralling, but it doesn’t need to be when the rest of it is so much fun. Stopping Mr. Time from using his doomsday weapon to take control of a world gripped by fear is nothing new or interesting but it doesn’t have to be. It handles the time travel aspect brilliantly, travelling back to the past in order to alter the present is the whole point; On numerous occassions events altered in the past completely erase people from the future timeline.
Instead of getting all floopy and confusing and messy, it’s kept simple and stays nice and easy to follow. You can travel in time because of an accident, sure you’re going back in time to prevent yourself from needing to go back in time but it’s best not to think too hard on it.
Trust me. Take it at face and just have a good time, because that’s ultimately what Time Recoil is, a bloody good time!