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Review

Time Recoil (Switch eShop) Review

Finnish developer 10tons have been one of the more prolific publishers in the Switch’s first year, releasing a whopping 11 games on the system since September. That’s one more game than Nintendo have published during the Switch’s entire lifespan!

Making their Switch debut with the marble shooter puzzle game Sparkle 2, 10tons have barely missed a week, releasing Switch ports of their games JYDGE, Neon Chrome, Xenoraid, Crimsonland, Spellspire, Tennis in the Face, Azkend 2, Sparkle Unleashed, King Oddball and Time Recoil over the last few months. While it’s unlikely that many of their releases made anyone’s top 5 games of 2017, there’s a strange uniqueness to each of these titles that makes them stand out as a game worth giving a shot. There’s an arcade shooter in their catalogue, a goofy sports puzzler and a game in which you have to spell words to defeat hoardes of zombies. But there’s one genre that 10tons excel at, and that’s the top-down, twin-stick shooter.

Neon Chrome was the first 10tons game I picked up on the Switch. An isometric cyberpunk shooter with procedurally generated levels and a rich levelling system, it kicked my ass too hard on my first plays to properly distract me away from Mario + Rabbids and Splatoon 2. A few weeks later saw the release of Jydge, a prequel to Neon Chrome that hooked me a lot faster by removing the random, roguelike elements and introducing clear missions with set goals, which made it a great option to pick up and play for short sessions portably. Finally, on October 27, the same day that Super Mario Odyssey was released, the absolute madmen over at 10tons decided to release a new top-down, twin-stick shooter on the Switch called Time Recoil.

As big of a fan of their games as I’d become, 10tons’ latest effort didn’t stand a chance against throwing Mario’s hat at everything and everyone, so for a good month, Time Recoil sat sadly in my backlog, waiting to be played. When I finally fired it up, I was greeted by one of the most ridiculous time travel stories I’ve ever encountered in a video game and then thrown into a familiar isometric setting that quickly smashed my expectations by adding some incredibly fun game mechanics that made Time Recoil establish itself as the superior 10tons shooter.

In Time Recoil you play as Alexa, who travels back and forth from the 1980s to the 1970s, trying to murder the mad scientist/evil dictator Mr. Time. The batshit crazy plot is told through dialogue that tells just enough story in between each mission without overstaying its welcome. As Alexa, you warp into different enemy bases and shoot your way to the end of the level. Every time you kill an enemy, time slows down, and for every two enemies you shoot while time is slowed, you gain a superpower. Killing two enemies allows you to dash through walls just like the early Switch title Mr Shifty. Killing four enemies gives you an explosive you can unleash in nearby rooms, taking out multiple enemies at a time. The more enemies you kill, the better abilities you unlock, and chaining each of these abilities as you make your way through a level in slow motion is unbelievably satisfying, a similar feeling to finishing a level of Superhot.

Time Recoil’s story is over the top silly at times but the bite sized nature of each mission makes Time Recoil a perfect handheld game. Shooting with the ZR button on the Joycon really hits the spot and makes you wonder why the eShop isn’t flooded with more top-down shooters. The game’s biggest letdown comes from the bland, unexciting visuals. You spend the entire game walking through the same boring architecture, gunning down the same generic foes, but the gameplay is good enough that you won’t even care. 10tons have some great ideas and hopefully will make enough of the almost dozen games they’ve got on the Switch right now to allow more budget for production and presentation (maybe their upcoming top-down shooter Tesla vs Lovecraft will be a step in the right direction!).

While a majority of their games are top-down shooters, 10tons also dabble in the puzzle genre (Tennis in the Face, the Sparkle games), and Time Recoils levels are themselves puzzles, with clear paths which you’ll figure out through dying repeatedly (seriously, some of the later levels up the difficulty considerably) and experimenting with both your time-based abilities and the extensive selection of weapons on hand. The Time Attack mode that you unlock after completing each level will have you replaying again and again in an attempt to get the perfect, bloodiest run.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 

The Good

- Super polished gameplay that encourages replay and experimentation
- Fun time based abilities
- Excellent in handheld mode

The Bad

- Uninspired art and graphics
- Generic action soundtrack

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Final Thoughts

While a majority of their games are top-down shooters, 10tons also dabble in the puzzle genre (Tennis in the Face, the Sparkle games), and Time Recoils levels are themselves puzzles, with clear paths which you’ll figure out through dying repeatedly (seriously, some of the later levels up the difficulty considerably) and experimenting with both your time based abilities and the extensive selection of weapons on hand. The Time Attack mode that you unlock after completing each level will have you replaying again and again in an attempt to get the perfect, bloodiest run.

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Andrew Levins

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