“Super Time Force” review

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Shoot’em ups are always fun diversions from the daily grind of overly-complicated, story-driven triple-A titles that fill the market. Sometimes, a side-scroller with a quirky hook and some fun level design is all one needs to pass a couple of hours.

The only problem with “Super Time Force” on Xbox One being that diversion, is that it’s freakin’ hard.

In this fun little romp currently available now through the month of September for Xbox One through Games with Gold, you play as the Super Time Force crusading throughout history righting wrongs. At some point, though, you’ll begin to question whether or not you’re actually doing good or just indulging your eccentric leader.

The main deviation from most shoot’em ups with “Super Time Force” is the ability to rewind time and switch between members of the team. Certain situations will call for a character that can shoot through walls to get pesky enemies, or a spray-and-pray specialist to clear out a particularly heavy zone.

The variety of members at first is sparse, with only three to choose from, but as the game goes on you’ll be able to save other members of the team which adds to your arsenal. Of course, they’re hidden throughout the levels, so it’s best to keep an eye out for hidden rooms and such.

Some of the teammates feel pretty useless though, sporting only melee attacks in maps that have both ranged and close-combat enemies. With a one-hit-dead mechanic for the player, it becomes a little hard to justify picking a character who has to get so close to the action.

Couple that with a sixty-second clock for all levels, and there’s really no time to waste when saving a member of the team, or trying to keep yourself alive with melee combat.

To counter this, the rewind function is put in play. Manipulating time to go backward, and sometimes forward,  to a point where you can switch characters and aid yourself (now a non-player companion of the last character you picked acting out the last moves they did before you rewound the game).

If you happen to save your old self from being killed, you can collect that teammate for a shield and an added secondary attack to the hero you’re now playing. This actually isn’t a bad idea and really does provide some fun and sense of accomplishment when you save yourself from certain doom.

Honestly though, the problems arise from the levels themselves. They’re not bad per say, but there isn’t a clear indication of when you’re close to the end. With sixty seconds on the clock, it’s almost imperative to know when and where you are in the mission to help you decide if you need to speed up.

For players that aren’t very good at speed-running missions where you also have to fight (like myself, for the sake of honesty) this is a difficult task. While you have thirty rewinds to work with, you tend to want to save those for the boss fights where you might have five seconds to kill the enemy with all of your teammates out at the same time.

Dying constantly in levels where you’re rushing to get to the end eats up that reserve of rewinds and causes you then to play more cautiously, and therefore eat up more time. It’s kind of a vicious cycle, and one that didn’t help my enjoyment of the game.

While I may have had issues with how difficult it is to complete a mission in one minute, even collecting ten-second boosts of time along the way, I really did have fun playing this game. There are moments when getting lost in the gameplay for two hours really happens, and you realize what time it is and are astonished to see that you’ve been playing for that long.

“Super Time Force” is a nice little indie game that has some great fun with history, as well as itself. All you have to do is join in and hope you can handle the fast pace. For free right now on the Xbox One for Xbox Live Gold members, this is a great steal.