How on earth do you describe or explain a game like Timelie? A time-manipulating, moody and thoughtful puzzle game that just hits a lot of right notes.
I love a good puzzle game, in fact, I just played Portal again for the first time in years and couldn’t put it down. Timelie is scratching those same itches. Clever, thought-out and sometimes infuriating as you’re finding the right timing or solution.
Damn, I’ve had a great time getting annoyed!
What is Timlie?
How does one describe Timelie? You are a young girl that has the ability to essentially stop time to work out how to move around each level. Her ability to stop time gives you the ability to then use every waking moment to your advantage. Just run time forward to see what happens to the level, how robots patrol etc. Stop it, rewind and adjust your movements.
Timelie gives you a basic set of tools that add a layer of complexity similar to that of Portal. You have to make the best use of every single second available to you, but you can constantly adjust and re-adjust, or scrub and start again. You’re controlling time, to escape what feels to be a nightmare or bad dream. You have so much control over your actions, it’s quite liberating.
Add the extra mechanic of a feline friend, and you’re in. Timelie goes from a little puzzler to a bit of an exercise in micromanagement.
With a cat that you control as well as Timelie, you’re always setting them off on the path to clear the level. Pressing switches for each other. Meowing as a distraction to get the robots looking the other way, or running into rooms, so you can lock them and keep them out of the way.
As simple as the mechanics are, the game quickly becomes quite complicated.
Looks and sounds
Putting the mechanics and puzzles of Timelie aside, you’re hit with a game that knows exactly what it wants to be.
The art direction is clean and sharp. Darkness contrasted by lights and coloured switches. Tidy, well-constructed rooms and puzzles and the cuteness added on with the character design of both Timelie and the cat. Nothing here looks the way it does due to chance. This is one very well realised and consistent vision, and it really shows.
The same can be said for the music. Moody, atmospheric and responsive to the situation. I’ve been sat at 11 pm, earphones in, hoping not to wake my infant son, just listening to the score. Again, everything here is considered and purposeful.
Timelie is a game that is incredibly well crafted, of that I have no doubts. I’ve seen Triple-A games delivered with less consistency and obvious vision. The game is a triumph, to be honest. The art style, the animations, the colours and the music set the tone and it all just works really well together.
Timlie is a puzzle game, simple.
Well, yeah it is, and when it’s purely about working out how to get through the environment and onto the next level. It’s an absolute joy.
The satisfaction of working out the nuances of each level, the purpose of every space, every switch and every broken bridge, is something else. Honestly, smashing through the first half of the game was a joy.
My issue came right at the back of the first half in Timelie. The game went from puzzler to time-management sim. Having to work very hard on the timings of movements got quite frustrating. No longer just working out who to move where to set-off the next step. It became a little too focused on hampering the puzzle elements with forcing somtime unforgiving timing requirements.
I either settled into the rhythm more, or it let off as I progressed through chapter 3, but it was quite a jarring change of pace initially. Take away the minor frustrations there, though and Timelie is a clever little puzzler that delivers the satisfaction you want when you figure it out. When it all just “clicks” is an experience that a lot of games just don’t deliver.
Timelie is an easy sell/recommendation. It scratches a very similar itch to Portal, minus the personality/humour. But for what it lacks in humour, it makes up in the atmosphere. I listen to the game, and I’ve seen that the soundtrack is actually available for purchase, so I’ll be getting that at some point!
Clever, dark and satisfying. It’s a gem of a game from a relatively new developer. Mid-game frustrations take into account, I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but Urnique Studios have delivered a belter. I’ve spent just over 5 hours in-game, and I intend to play through it all again, with a bit of hindsight on my side, I’ll see if that ramping-up of the time management really is as jarring as it initially felt.
If Timelie is a first game from the studio, I’m very very eager to see what they can deliver in the future!