By Guy Rainey / June 4th, 2014
|Release Date||May 20, 2014|
Project Temporality is an action puzzle game. Think Portal, but instead of using wormholes, you use time control powers. Portal is universally acclaimed, so it’s not surprising that someone would try to capture some of that creativity. Does it work?
You are Subject 87. Your job is to test a time control device that is implanted in your brain. That is all you are told at the beginning of the game. You are given instructions by a mysterious admiral, and you simply do what he says. You pick up some more information through messages left by some of the project’s scientists and other test subjects. And there’s clearly some creepy stuff going on behind the scenes. That’s the blood of a previous test subject in the picture above. There’s talk of coercion into testing, and even some talk about nightmarish problems that could occur with this form of time travel. There is a problem with all the interesting things happening outside your influence, but I was compelled by the writing to keep going. Good thing, too.
You are now in control of a device that lets you reverse time. This is a puzzle game, through and through. There is no combat. Now, the ability to reverse time doesn’t sound all that useful for a puzzle game, but there’s one other feature: you can send out clones. As you reverse time, you can press a button, and send out a clone that will do exactly what you just did. And you’re not limited to one clone at a time, so you can (and will) set up a chain reaction with a lot of clones.
There are limits to how many clones you can have. In fact, you are encouraged to use as few clones as possible. See that blue bar? That determines how much power you have. The more time a clone spends retracing your steps, the more power is drained. Drain it all, and you lose. You are rated by how much power you ended up using at the end of each level. The stars on the bar show you how much power you need to have by the end of the level to get that rating. It’s a pretty big accomplishment to get three stars, since I never got more than one.
One of the great secrets to Portal’s success was that it was mostly tutorial. Most of that game was dedicated to teaching and re-teaching the player all the ways that they could use the portals. Project Temporality either didn’t learn that or overestimated how much their players would learn from their tutorials. There are maybe one or two puzzles at the beginning of a level that are supposed to introduce a new idea. Then the level is dedicated to exploring all the ways that you can use that idea. The problem is that, while I understood the concept they were trying to play with, I didn’t find the correlation to the later puzzles in the level. I got stuck a lot, often leaving the game entirely, and all the progress I’d made in the level. I had to resort to YouTube walkthroughs to get through the game. Once I saw the solutions, I was able to see just how clever the puzzles were, but, before that, I was completely stumped and frustrated. There’s a lot of trial and error, as opposed to intuitive solutions.
Now, originally, I had some complaints about the frame rate and controls. Both were horrendously bad on my machine, and it is an interrelated issue, as the controls are dependent on the frame rate. The game needs to run at a steady 30fps to be playable. Looking at the game’s Steam page at that time, my PC was just within the system requirements. When I played it, the game performed horribly, even on the lowest graphical settings. I was all set to rail against it, but we got in touch with the developer, and they decided to change the system requirements based on my experiences. So, yeah, two of my biggest complaints are now de-fanged. There are some bugs I ran into, but I can’t be sure that they aren’t also tied into the frame rate issues.
Other than that, the graphics look good enough, even on low. I mean, this is a puzzle game, so it’s not like you need hyper-realistic graphics. The music is atmospheric. It’s not bad, it’s just kind of there. And you’ll hear some of the same songs multiple times. There’s no voice acting, so you’ll be reading a lot of text.
So, with the bump up of the system requirements, I’m pretty much ambivalent to the game. It has an interesting hook, and some truly unique puzzles. It helps that there’s already a complete walkthrough on YouTube for if you get stuck. If you have a nice PC, and want to play a new kind of puzzle game for about 10 hours, maybe pick it up on a Steam sale.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Project Temporality is available on Amazon:
Defrost GamesProject Temporality