Timeloop is a time travel puzzle that will send you for a loop

Posted: August 11, 2009 in Puzzle

Describing a game that involves time travel really isn’t the easiest thing to do. When I initially came across Timeloop, an innovatively designed puzzler, it took a few minutes to figure out the point of the game. I think a good way to preface this review is to describe a scene from one of my favorite movies “Back to the Future”. Marty McFly is on his way back from 1955 to the his own time of 1985, but before he does so, he hands Doc a note detailing the night that the Libyan terrorists kill him in 1985 hoping to somehow to change the future. Of course, Doc tears up the note and Marty travels to the present only to watch Doc get shot. Doc, however, did read the note and wears a bulletproof vest, thus changing history and bringing on two other sequels. Much in the same way, that is the gist of Timeloop, a surprisingly fresh puzzler with a unique twist presented with a fun art style that will keep you playing and wishing for more levels.

The underlying story in Timeloop is a little out there, but interesting nonetheless. After creating a time machine, the scientists have somehow become trapped in a time loop where they are in constant danger of running out of oxygen. Their only hope is Nik, the janitor robot who must open doors to reach the vocal scientists (they scream “Help, where are you?) and the occasional meowing cat. To open doors, Nik must repair circuit boxes that open the doors. Of course, the game is more complex that repairing circuits. In some cases, doors require two robots to operate and open doors. That’s where you come in because part of your job is to operate the timeloop that sends Nik back in time. This is where the time travel paradox comes in. Because you’re traveling back in time, a version of Nik, let’s call him Original Nik, is already there represented as a ghost. So technically, there are two or more of you. I won’t bother to go into the theoretical thinking related to meeting yourself back in time.

At the heart of Timeloop is a game about strategically planning ahead. Depending on how you move Original Nik and what he interacts with, he will repeat those same steps. Literally, it’s a replay of everything Nik performed before the timeloop. Does any of this make sense? Don’t worry it gets better.

The game has 32 levels and you have the opportunity to earn gold, silver and bronze medals based on how quickly Nik rescues the scientists. The hitch in all this is that oxygen is depleting which is represented by a countdown timer so you’ll need to move quickly. Of course when you hit the timeloop button, the timer resets which may only provide a temporary reprieve if you fouled up with Original Nik. The levels begin relatively easy, but they become more elaborate in terms of doors and tools. Some doors require tools such as a blowtorch to repair or later on, securing and applying a computer code to a cell phone. With the simpler puzzles, one timeloop is offered, but more timeloops become available later as the puzzles increase in difficulty and require more maneuvering.

The graphics look great with cartoon-like animations along with some quirky sound effects. Visually, Timeloop is a polished looking game with a creative art style that should be very eye-catching to most. The rooms are viewed from a side/overview perspective so you have a limited view of several rooms from above. A timer is located in the upper left corner, while the number of timeloops is in the upper right. The timeloop activation button is located in the bottom right.

Moving Nik is straightforward: tap in the desired location where you’d like Nik to go. The controls are more or less responsive, but on a few occasions, Nik wouldn’t respond right away or he would end up kissing the wall or worse. The game also doesn’t have an in-game scroll option so you can’t pan the screen to get a better idea of the floor layout, although you can do this by pausing the game.

The game is both fun and frustrating at the same time. As I mentioned, the rooms become more complex so in many cases, it’s a matter of trial and error in terms of what works and what doesn’t. You almost certainly won’t be able to solve latter puzzles on the first try or even after several trys because it’s a challenging game. One way to look at it is that each level requires you to solve it several times. With the clock ticking, being able to move quickly and efficiently before the timeloop is activated will determine whether or not you succeed. I will say that the scientist yelling for help can be irritating after a while, and you kind of wish the oxygen would deplete just enough to keep him quiet.

Overall, Timeloop is a great puzzler with a unique twist. It’s definitely not something you see everyday, not to mention play with. The visuals are fun and lighthearted, and the concept is innovative. Outside of the occasional quirks with the controls, Timeloop is a must for those who enjoy logic games…or time travel.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (innovative concept that any puzzler at heart will enjoy; visuals are top notch, and the gameplay challenging in the later stages; those into time travel will get a kick out of this)

Check out my impressions at http://toucharcade.com/2009/08/13/timeloop-a-time-traveling-puzzler/

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