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Review - TIMESPINNER - Successor of Symphony of the Night?


A bit disappointing, but still an enjoyable Metroidvania.

Timespinner - Haristel

Timespinner - Logo

Well, Although it didn't take as long as Iconoclasts(10 years) it still took the developer Lunar Ray Games 4 years to complete "Timespinner", which is out now on Steam!

A bit like the recent - underappreciated - Chasm, it's clearly inspired by old-school PS1 castlevania games(Symphony of the night), and how about the ones on Nintendo DS too? (Especially Order of Ecclesia, for the glyph system!)

So, will it become a classic like its grandpa, or will it fall in the bottomless pits of bad Castlevania clones? let's find out!




Store Platform OVERALL RATING: 68%
Buy it on Steam
Buy on GOG
PC
 + THE POSITIVE
+ The orb system is pretty cool!
+ Perfect controls and satisfying platforming!
+ Rewarding exploration!
+ Great inventory!
+ Sidequests!
 - THE NEGATIVE
- Combat is frustrating
- A few bosses take way too long to beat
- Time freeze ability is underused 
- Art direction is questionable
- Story is kinda boring
Buy it on Playstation.com PS4
Buy it on Playstation.com PSVITA
NOT RELEASED YET! 3DS


Timespinner - Mayef - pngHATING LAMPS LIKE IN 1997 πŸ˜‰πŸ”

GENRE:
Timespinner is a classic metroidvania, focusing on exploration and some backtracking.
(don't worry, nothing too extreme)


STORY:
 So you play a girl called Lunais, this time. Or a shemale. Not sure, but she did have a nice surgeon, apparently. 

You live in a redneck village with your family, in the desolate homeworld of "Lachiem", and you have some healthy hobbies like milking pigs, growing brothel sprouts, and since you're a perverted girl, you like to keep two floating and pulsating hairless balls waving around your head, firing stuff at your ex-boyfriends. (By the way, in this game, most guys are evil. And straight. Women are good. And ambiguous. Okaaaay... Moving on.)

Timespinner - Introduction - Jiana - Lachiem ships are coming
At first I misread and I thought she proposed a toast. (L'Chaim in Hebrew is a toast meaning "to life")πŸ˜‚

OH NO! Suddenly, you're attacked by the evil empire who wants to steal your magic powers, and I bet it's not for humanitarian purposes!
"We want the dark magic which allows your detached magic balls to float! Give it to us now! It'll be useful in case of a tsunami. I mean, to find them. Whatever." πŸ€”
  
Timespinner - Timeline showing the progress since 2009, first prototype
The game got tremendously updated since the first prototype!
You run, they run, they catch you, bla bla boring conversation bla bla bla they kill your shemale foster mom in front of you bla bla bla, and you swear vengeance, bla bla bla, and you're magically transported through a huge timegate to the past, and FINALLY we can begin the game. (by the way, you CAN skip cutscenes, which is great.)

I feel like I'm getting better and better at explaining game stories, lately.
Also, kids, don't do drugs. Or drink vodka cocktails before writing a review.

Anyway, in case you're interested in the unnecessary storyline, you'll learn more about it during your explorations, as you fall upon various collectible items scattered throughout the game:

  • Collectible “Memories”, detailing important events of a specific character(especially your mom)
  • Collectible “Letters”, which contain multiple viewpoints concerning a historical war.
  • Collectible “Downloads”, which usually contain encyclopedic knowledge about the world you're exploring, its people, kitchen recipes, etc.

Timespinner - Introduction - Evil empire kills Lunais' mother
"Luke... I'm your mother."   "Noooooo..Wait, what?"


FEATURES(lazy copy/paste from Steam)
  • Control the Timespinner to bend time to your advantage, evading foes, using them as platforms, and solving puzzles
  • Discover a lovingly-crafted, beautiful pixel art world and uncover a rich story universe
  • Explore both the past and present of Lachiem, from grand medieval castles, to sparkling serene lakes, a bustling metropolis and even a space-age laboratory
  • Clobber enemies with Magic Orbs which grow in power the more you use them
  • Befriend mysterious Familiars and train them to aid you in battle
  • Take on challenging boss battles with an emphasis on skill, timing, and dodging
  • Locate hidden areas and treasures through secret walls and platforming puzzles
  • Invite a second player to join the adventure by controlling Lunais' Familiar in local co-op mode
  • Compelling story across two timelines by the narrative designers of Silverstring Media -- find hidden clues, uncover the past, and change the future!
  • Rock out to a gothic PS1-style soundtrack by Jeff Ball (composer for Tiny Barbarian DX and violinist for Steven Universe) with retro SFX by Power Up Audio (Crypt of the Necrodancer, Celeste, Into the Breach)
  • Full gamepad support on Windows, Mac, & Linux

Did you know ?
Timespinner - border frames As the resolution of the game was built for the 3DS(not released yet, though!), the gameplay screen never fully fill the screen. 

But you can enable an optional border frame on the sides!

Timespinner - Lunais and MayefGAMEPLAY - HERE'S YOUR MEATπŸ₯©πŸ”

CONTROLS

Controls feel GREAT and tight, except the occasionally immensely frustrating knockback. But jumping is deadly precise, the running speed is perfect, grabbing platforms feels also "right", and attacking is... Hmmm...
Well, let's talk about the weapons already, since it's a HUGE part of the game.


Timespinner - BOSS - Giant Blue Bird
Aaaaand this is why I oppose GMOs. My birdy fed on some gmo crops and look how he is now. He's so fat he can't even move! I'll have to put him out of his misery. On the bright side, think about all the money I'll make selling his meat to KFC!

THE ORBS

Timespinner - Lunais' different attacksInstead of "classic" weapons, you have some kind of floating "orb" system, which is well-thought and original.
You collect along your way LOTS of different orbs with all different attacks, and it's nice that you can carry different orbs in each hand.
So, for example, you could launch a fire attack with your left hand, and some kind of electric arc from your right hand.(the plasma orb is GODLY!)


Unfortunately, I noticed after a while that it's kinda counter-productive to use different orbs(you level them at half the rate!), and in the end, I noticed I was much stronger while using the same orb in left/right slots. Also, besides a few exceptions which I won't reveal, using different orbs won't give you access to previously unreachable rooms or stuff like that, so, what I mean is that as long as you like what you use, you NEVER have a reason to switch to another orb.


Timespinner - BOSS - Incubus
Oh no! The ambiguously gay duo! Not again! Which reminds me... I was going to make a gay joke... Butt fuck it.

Every orb changes quite drastically the way you attack your enemies(although it's usually just button smashing), but eventually, like most players, you'll stick to just one weapon and keep leveling it up.


I chose the plasma myself, but the forbidden tome is also very "orgasmic". Just try it!
You ARE supposed to switch orbs though, as every enemy has different weaknesses, but you can "compensate" by simply leveling up your favorite weapon. Bottom line, you can complete the game using just ONE type of orb, if you want to.
 

Timespinner - Water ruins
I pay this damn flying pest 20 cents an hour and he's only watching me killing the enemies, with a big grin on his face. I feel like I've been ripped off, I'll send him back to Petco.


 Speaking of levels, as I already mentioned, the more you use an orb, the more it levels up...
Which also means that the OTHER unused orbs DON'T. Keep this in mind, as it'll be harder later in the game to play with some weaker orbs, which might even feel powerless against some enemies!!

Some people have also been complaining that the orbs have no specific usage at all in the past to affect the present, but that goes for everything else in the game anyway.
Overall, travelling through time does feel a bit useless, except for the main quest, of course.


TIP !(and maybe spoiler too...)
The B-level keycard is "hidden" in the sealed caves, in front of the A-level door, on a skeleton. VERY dumbly placed, if you ask me.

Timespinner - Siren
Ariel the little mermaid got her tail caught in a motorboat propeller and this is how she looks now. True story.

NECKLACES

I find the "necklaces" WAY more satisfying.
Basically, necklaces give you a ranged super attack, and ALL of them are super cool.
I loved especially the gigantic green sword which could one-hit kill my enemies, but eventually I stuck with the plasma laser one, obliterating everybody in the way.


Keep in mind that each super attack requires around 1.5 seconds of "charging", and you're frozen while attacking. You refill your super attack bar with "aura", again found in lamps.


Timespinner - InventoryTHE INVENTORY

There's a very nice inventory, pleasant to navigate, and you can use items and heal easily during a boss fight, for example.


A very minor gripe, but I think it was unnecessary to display two times what items you have and what are equipped, it's confusing.


About the "SHINY ROCK" item...
 You can buy from the talking crow a special item called "Shiny Rock", for 9999 gold... Some people say it does nothing. Others claimed they got a special pet while equipping the rock, and beating some bosses. 

I bought it and played the game and it did NOTHING to me. I confirm this is a "joke item".

Timespinner - Crow shop
Lunais: "Hello, Steven Seagull!" Crow: "I'm a fucking crow, numbnuts."  Lunais: "oooh my bad. I know I shouldn't mock a killing bird". Crow: "sigh..."  Lunais: "I think that bird puns are... Hawkward." Crow: "Try me, motherfucker." Lunais: "Yeah, I know, my jokes are like a sick bird. They should be ill-eagle". *Crows claws her eyes out*

THE PETS

You get some cute "pets", which level up while assisting you killing enemies, but it won't change their appearance or attacks, it'll just raise their damage.

Timespinner - Owl pet
Like the weapons, I just decided to keep the same pet during the entire run, the first little dragon you get, who is cute and becomes strong enough to help you along the way.
There's the neat ability for a second player to directly control the protagonist’s pet, but we haven't tested it.


TIME FREEZE

I forgot to mention it because I almost NEVER used it, but you can actually "freeze" the game, and your enemies too, obviously. It IS necessary in a few places, to reach higher areas by jumping on your enemies, but overall, it felt more like a gimmick than anything else.
You can freeze the time for a few seconds only, and then you'll have to collect some sand to fill up your hourglass again.(And like everything else, you'll collect sand while breaking lamps.)
It MIGHT be useful against a few bosses, but make sure to have enough sand refills!


Timespinner - BOSS - Alien
Lunais: "hey bro, what are you doing here all along?"  Alien: "Did you just call me bro? I'm not your bro, bro! This is racist!" Lunais: "Wait, what... Chill out, dude, I didn't mean to-" Alien: Did you just assume my gender? That does it, I'm suing your ass!"  Lunais: "Oh god, the LGBTQZXT+ also got the aliens! Let's get outta here quick!"

GAME LENGTH


You'll complete the game 100% in 10-12 hours, on average, depending on how many sidequests you take.
Keep in mind there's a "newgame+" and nightmare difficulty, where your level id capped at 1.
I found it useless and it doesn't make the experience more fun in any way.
For the elitist hardcore gamers only. 

On a side note, it's possible to speedrun the game in an hour.

Recommended game: "Tower Hunter:Erza's Trial"!
Tower Hunter: Erza's Trial - LavaTower Hunter: Erza's Trial is another promising EARLY ACCESS Metroidvania-roguelite(back to the beginning when you die!), but keep in mind it's made by a very little team, and the controls are not yet very refined!

Featuring great 2.5D graphics and nice sound design, Tower Hunter lets you play as a sexy heroine called Erza, fighting your way up in a huge tower(who would have thought), which surprisingly has many different landscapes, including a jungle biome! We can't wait to review it when it reaches v1.0!πŸ˜‹


GRAPHICS - WE HAVE ACHIEVED DULLNESS πŸ˜‘πŸ”

ART
The 2D sprites look like they just came out of a Super Nes game from the mid-90s, but the high resolution backgrounds are more from the 32-bit PS1 era. I should say this in a good way, but...

Timespinner - Castle - Joker enemy
Lunais: "Finally! I found a man in this damn castle!" Joker: "What are you talking about? I'm not a man, I'm the no.1 sissy here, Avery Goodlay! And I'm telling you, life without women is a real pain in the ass!"

Besides a few magnificent or colorful enemies, the overall look is quite bland and might even give you depressive thoughts. Worse, if you stop for a second and take a close look at the backgrounds, some of them are actually terrible. Although the characters are nicely done, their color palette is so dark and desaturared that some of them even blend in with the backgrounds.

I did really enjoy how the landscapes change depending on what era you play in, which reminded me a bit of past and future times in Sonic CD. (yeah, weird comparison.)


Timespinner - Characters

ANIMATIONS
At least, the character, npcs, and enemies are all lively and smoothly animated, and the developer didn't use any cheap tricks to animate the various weapons. It's pure old-school pixel art. Obviously, the main characters has the best animations, like the super cool "spinning" double-jump!

Timespinner - Forest
There's no wifi in this forest, but I promise you you'll find a better"connection"...Especially in your rear-end. Alright, alright, I stop the crass jokes! Anyway, gay jokes aren't funny. Cum on guys! I don't want anybody to get butt hurt.πŸ˜‚

MUSIC & SFX - WHY ARE WE STILL HERE? πŸ˜­πŸ”

NOPE. The moody(or actually MUDDY) pianos made me feel like I was witnessing a funeral or something. Just listen to "From the Darkness" or "Barren Corridors"... Good lord...
After playing for just an hour, I started questioning the meaning of life and I was starting to sound like Kaz in Metal Gear Solid V...



It's so depressing that I had to cut it off and replaced it by the OST of "Exile" on PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16). It suits the atmosphere very well, you should try it.
90s OSTs are the best of the entire history of games, anyway.

Anyway, as usual, I'll just put a link to the whole OST. Enjoy!


Okay, to be fair, it does have a few "strong" tracks, but they're usually the bosses, featuring very fast heavy-metal mixed with some symphonic instruments, very reminiscent of late 90s Castlevania games(Symphony of the Night), which are clearly a strong inspiration here.

Note that I'm NOT saying this is a bad OST in any way.
But it looks like the composer tried too much to make it sound like a Castlevania game(WAY more dark, though), except Timespinner isn't THAT dark and is extremely far from the vampires theme of Castlevania, and in the end, this OST sounds like it was composed for another game.

If you love it(and I know that most of you strongly disagree with me about this topic), you can get the soundtrack on Steam, or on Amazon.

What do you think, Willy?
 "This is a big nope for me."
Monty Python - John Cleese - Nope   I won't be as nice as Lily. I hated it from beginning to end. 

What killed the game for me ultimately are the insanely frustrating enemy patterns. They're completely in contradiction with your character moves, and you spend more time trying to avoid them than attacking them. Check this speedrunning video, it shows the obvious problem. Even when the guy jumps around them, he gets hit at least once. 

The whole game is designed in a way that most enemies are unavoidable and block many paths. And yes, I know that you're supposed to FIGHT enemies in a game, not avoid them, but this is simply badly executed and frustrating.(unlike Wayforward games, for example.) Especially when you realize that it takes several hits to kill even basic enemies, at the beginning. But even if you do get stronger eventually, you'll meet stronger enemies as well, who will still need too many hits to kill. Boring, and repetitive.

I didn't feel anything for the bland graphics AND uninspired music, which I found totally forgettable, like the clichΓ© storyline. 
Successor of Symphony of the Night? This doesn't even come close, sorry.

RATING BOXπŸ”
Timespinner - Game cover

VERSION TESTED: v1.0

Publisher:

Developer:

Release Date:
25 September, 2018

Genre: Metroidvania

Single-player(limited coop)

Difficulty: Normal 


Store Platform
Buy on Steam
Buy on GOG
PC
Buy on Playstation PS4
Buy on Playstation PSVITA
NOT RELEASED YET! 3DS
GRAPHICS: 65%
The pixel art itself is above average, but the color palette is very dark and depressing. Characters are much better than environments in general.
MUSIC: 76%
Some love it, others hate it. It does sound good if you're into funerals.
SOUNDS: 87%
Whatever orb you choose, they all sound powerful and satisfying.
Too bad the game barely has any voices, unfortunately.
GAMEPLAY: 72%
Could have been better. Top-notch controls, almost as good as Iconoclasts!(the best ever in my opinion) Lots of different weapons, armors, and various items turn the game almost into a RPG. Some unused skills, and frustrating enemy patterns!
GAME LENGTH: 70%
Around 10-12 hours to complete it. It's acceptable for a metroidvania, but you can 100% the map in just one run, and you won't feel like playing it again.
OVERALL RATING: 68%
A decent Metroidvania plagued by some frustrating combat and questionable art choices, but the RPG features and satisfying controls still manage to make it an enjoyable adventure!

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