10tons has crafted some outstanding shooters for PC users and now their best yet in Time Recoil is available on Switch. Time Recoil allows you to either punch folks out or better yet, shoot them in an effort to save the world. As the only person who can go back into the past and then into the present without suffering any ill-effects, that task falls on you. Your in-game goal is to slaughter as many henchmen of the world’s dictator who doubles as a mad scientist — and gathering the intel is where the fun truly begins. Time Recoil is a spy-centric take on Hotline Miami that does enough similar to give veterans of that series an easy entry point while also doing enough new to stand out.
Like Hotline, you want think of this game more as a series of puzzles to be solved instead of an outright shooter. Enemies hide behind doors, but there are many variables at play that determine your success or failure. The angle of attack can make a huge difference, because if you have one enemy, you want to try and attack from whenever possible. This ensures a clean kill, and if you miss with your bullets or are out of ammo, you can still get a melee kill in there fairly safely. Melee kills are usually the toughest to get and the riskiest to survive. Killing just one person with no one around is possible, but things get tougher as you encounter more foes.
Dealing two or more rivals means that you need to pay careful attention to your positioning. You may kill one enemy, but then wind up eating lead from the other, so going after someone who is facing away from you first is less risky in theory. That theory can blow up in your face, however, because going after someone facing you first gives you slightly more time to deal with someone whose back is to you. Either approach might work, but figuring out which one you prefer is where the fun is. It’s also a blast to find little tricks, like realizing that you can swipe at enemies through walls so you can kill them but they can’t touch you. Using guns may be more fun than a melee kill, but you don’t have a lot of ammo to work with. Fortunately, with red laser sights, you always have a fairly clear idea of where enemies are in relation to your shots. Aiming dead on may just kill one foe, but if you aim with pinpoint precision, you may actually wind up killing two enemies with one shot. This doesn’t just conserve your ammo, but it feels great and gives you a leg up on your opposition — but any lead here can be fleeting given how enemies can kill you with one hit. A single mistake spells the end of your run — whether you’ve just begun or grabbed three out of the four items you needed to move on.
It’s a tough game and a challenging experience, but one that allows you to learn and encourages you to do so whenever possible. Racking up a chain of kills feels nice and also rewards you with the ability to slow down time. This enables you to get one extra shot off and take out an entire room full of enemies if you’re truly lucky. The key is to turn that luck into pure skill and then move onto greater challenges. You can also kill two enemies back to back in rapid succession to earn a dash which allows you to break through walls and be bold. It’s now possible to not only bum-rush enemies, but also kill them while nabbing files quickly. Slow and steady may win the race, but this allows you to be exciting and bold to still achieve success.
Time Recoil uses its twin-stick setup perfectly, which also means that you really do need to factor your controller of choice into things. The default dual Joycon grip method works reasonably well, but the sticks don’t feel quite as natural as a regular Xbox-style controller work for the PC version. The short travel length on the triggers does help though, and allows you to feel more tactile controls even with the sticks not being theoretically ideal for the game. A Pro-style controller works well, with offset sticks feeling natural and more normal-sized triggers may be better for those who are still get used to the Joy-Cons. Fortunately, the controls are nice and responsive with any controller method you so desire — so you can’t blame a death on sloppy controls.
Time Recoil‘s graphical design is minimalist and beautiful. The environments all feature a fairly bold color palette depending on the stage, so you’re always bathed in a particular color. This works on a psychological level too because certain colors make you feel differently. Red-heavy areas tend to feel tougher than a softer blue one, even if the enemy count in one his higher due to all of the red. When you add in the bloodshed, it makes your own blood pump a little faster. The animation is just good enough to show you what’s happening, while also allowing you to time everything with ease.
Musically, Time Recoil doesn’t hit the heights of Hotline Miami, but it does its own spy-infused thing and does it well. There’s a cyberpunk feel to the soundtrack with a bit of a thumping bass as well. It’s chiptunes-inspired with its ability to be hummed immediately after playing, while also having enough depth to be something you want to listen to outside of the game. In the game, it keeps the proceedings exciting during subdued moments and after an extended session it’s fun to just kick back and nod your head to the music. The sound design for gunshots is excellent too, with the melee attack sounding swift, but also being loud enough to be heard by others, increasing your need to use it wisely.
Time Recoil is an outstanding top-down strategy game that gives off the appearance of a top-down shooter. It has finely-tuned melee and gun-based combat that rewards fast reflexes. It’s tough and challenging, but can be conquered with patience, skill and learning the core mechanics on a deeper level. It isn’t casual, but will pay off for anyone willing to spend the time to learn its ways. It looks great — with a simple, but elegant art style that also fits its largely chiptune-inspired soundtrack. Time Recoil is a must-buy for anyone with a Switch and a love for a hearty challenge.