Forget complicated time travel and all its issues with paradoxes and whether you can actually meet yourself or irrevocably changing the timeline due to stepping on a bug. The real fun is in controlling the present, more specifically slowing it down so you can make changes without being affected. A good example of this is Quicksilver’s awesome kitchen scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past where he just owns the room. That’s kind of the premise with Time Hacker, an upcoming virtual reality (VR) title from Joy Way where the aim is to save the day by taking out the bad guys in each scene.
You play a superhero who can create a bubble of time in which everything is slowed to a crawl, just long enough to nip around and move a box or maybe a bullet or two. Your skills are needed because of some dangerous humanoid killer robots who despite their shiny exterior seem more like Russian gangsters just going about their daily criminal lives.
In any case, in a sort of Warioware-style timed puzzle madness you’re dropped into each scenario and given a few seconds to orientate yourself, drop a bubble and get to work. The mechanics are fairly simple at this stage, you’ve got continuous locomotion, teleport, the ability to grab objects as well as being able to jump into certain enemy’s skin, lovely! All that’s required is to kill however many opponents are there, miss one and you can keep restarting the level until you find a successful combination.
This generally tends to revolve around getting the hoods to shoot one another or activate an environmental trap to take out multiple foes. While there may only be on average 30 seconds to complete a level that’s generally plenty of time, there never seemed to be a lack of it. As you can move enemies to place them near hazards there’s a nice comedy undertone to Time Hacker, where you can manipulate them like puppets, sitting them on explosive barrels or putting them in the way of their own bullet.
Levels progress nicely enough, introducing new mechanics such as cars and spiked barrels to avoid giving a suitable room-scale gameplay element. Because even if you get everything right, if your character gets hits by a wayward bullet or piece of debris then it will be time to restart. As all of this is in slow motion the environment doesn’t stand still, requiring an element of forethought as to how certain shifts may take place within the scene to unravel your solution.
There is, of course, a level of repetition to the gameplay because not every element is interactive. Time Hacker has the illusion of creative freedom to tackle each level however you wish but like most puzzles, there’s usually one solution; making for a quickfire, complete and move on experience. At the moment Time Hacker is fairly barebones with no level select or options menus to speak of. It would be good to see the mechanic to select enemies a little more finely tuned and fluid as when things start to fly on the later levels each precious second counts.
Just like the X-Men film, Time Hacker’s premise is one with all sorts of possibilities. There’s so much to work with that Joy Way could have a really entertaining action-puzzler on its hands, a perfect fit for VR. Just so long as enough variety is put in so you can adapt scenarios in new ways, creating amusing chain reactions in the process. One thought, if they are robots then surely their limbs could be detachable, making for useful weapons?