Super Time Force Ultra – Review
Super Time Force is a side-scrolling action and shooter video game by Capybara Games. It was released on Xbox 360 and Xbox One in May 2014. An updated version of the game called Super Time Force Ultra was released in August 2014 for PC and then in September 2015 on PS4 and PS Vita where it was free for PS Plus subscribers as part of the Instant Games Collection for September.
The game plays like your regular 2d platforming shooter, you fight your way from left to right using your normal and special attacks. The real fun starts when your character dies, when you are able to rewind time as far back as you want and jump back into the level as a new character. You then continue playing through alongside your past life (until they get to the part where you died). You can also choose at any time through the game to rewind time, you aren’t limited to having to die first.
It can be a hard concept to initially grasp and the rewinding ability takes a little while to get used to. But once you get the hang of the flow of the game and how to use the rewind and other mechanics it becomes an incredibly fun experience. After each death you become more and more confident in knowing what you have to do to get past each obstacle or enemy.
Letting the player get back into the game immediately after dying is something which games like Super Meat Boy and Hotline Miami did really well. Super Time Force Ultra takes this concept one step further, giving you the opportunity to jump straight back in and stop your previous death from ever occurring, ah the joys of time travel.
Once you finish each level you are treated to a replay of your final run through which shows all of the characters and past lives you had. This is a really neat addition and you get to see your cool combinations and time travelling rescues in real time.
The game boasts an awesome variety of characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You start out with a three person team made up of the free firing soldier Jean Rambois, a sniper called Aimy McKillen who can shoot through walls and Shieldy Blockerson who is unsurprisingly armed with a shield.
As you pass through each time period you are able to rescue other characters to make them part of your team. The rocket launcher wielding Jef Leppard, the Traveller from Journey and President of Sony Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida are all playable characters in Super Time Force Ultra. The normal attacks are pretty similar between characters, which is to be expected. The real variety comes from their special attacks which are created to reflect their traits of each character. I found that I spent most of the time using the special abilities, so I never had the feeling that the characters were too similar.
One of the most interesting features of this game is the ability to rescue your past lives who have been killed. If you are able to use the rewind ability to stop one of your past lives from dying (by either killing the enemy before they get there or blocking the attack which killed you), you are able to pick up this character by running over them which effectively fuses your current character with theirs. Doing this gives you an extra life and combines your super attack with theirs. It’s kind of a hard concept to describe in text, but easy to understand when you are playing the game.
Combining the abilities of different heroes is a great way to keep the gameplay fresh, and you soon start to work out which super attacks compliment each other well. Being able to simultaneously create a shield around yourself while unleashing a barrage of bullets is always very fun.
The humour of the game is probably not to everyone’s liking, it can be rather ‘meme’ heavy at times. But overall I found the comedic elements of the characters and the story to be a great addition to the game. It never takes itself seriously, which I really love.
The Super Time Force is lead by Commander Repeatski, who wears two eyepatches and has an entire tunic covered in medals pretty much sums up the humour of the game.
The boss battles at the end of each time period do tend to turn into a bit of a grind, with the way to kill them being to just get enough team members on the screen firing at them. Once you learn the attack patterns of each boss you just need to survive for as long as your can, then rewind back and play through the 60 seconds again with your next life, repeat 10-20 times and you’ll eventually wear the boss’s health bar down to zero. There are a couple of bosses which require a bit more finesse and strategy, but most of the time I found it too repetitive. The boss battles make up only a small portion of the game, so I didn’t find this to be a particularly big issue.
The campaign is structured through 6 different time periods, each having three levels culminating in a boss battle against Doctor Infinity. Although the time period you are in doesn’t really change the way the game plays, it still helps to make each level feel unique. You will run into different enemies in each time period, for example you will battle against dinosaurs in 1,000,000 BC and medieval knights in 673 AD. Even though it’s primarily an aesthetic change it’s still a welcome addition to keep the game feeling fresh
Super Time Force Ultra has tonnes of replay value for a smaller indie game. Spread throughout each level are collectible glorbs which are usually dropped when killing enemies or destroying certain parts of the environment, collecting all of these in a level takes timing as well as memory. In addition to the glorbs, there is also a Time Shard near the end of each level to collect as well as characters to rescue and add to your team. All of these objectives will keep you coming back for more if you enjoy the gameplay.
Separate from the main campaign is the Helladeck, which provides an extra 50 challenges that are closer to puzzles than a platforming shooter level. You are given a very limited number of rewinds and a set team of characters, with the goal being to collect each glorb before it hits the ground. Some of these take a good amount of thinking, and give you the same Portal-esque feeling when you finally manage to solve the puzzle and complete the level. Each mission will only take 30 seconds if done correctly, but the trial and error as well as the thinking time will mean that completing the Helladeck levels will add an extra few hours onto your gametime. It’s a great way to give the player a different kind of challenge while still maintaining the same gameplay mechanics present through the rest of the game.
Once you finish the main campaign you enter into a New Game Plus mode called the Super Hardcode Mode. In this mode you are only allowed to use each character once throughout a level (unless you use the rescue mechanic to save them) and the limits on the number of rewinds are much less forgiving. I personally haven’t played any of this mode, but I can imagine it’s another good challenge for anyone who wants to keep playing after finishing the main content of the game.
Overall I found Super Time Force Ultra to be a very fun experience, it's nice to see a game use the time travel theme to such great effect. The gameplay is fun and rewarding, and I personally loved the humour of the story and the characters created by Capybara Games.
There are heaps of things to do for a game like this, and I definitely intend to go back to it over the coming months.