No Time To Explain - a review

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I recently got into a game called “There’s No Time To Explain”. A couple months ago I got it through a humble bundle, added it to my Steam library, and never gave it a second look. When I booted the game up I was immediately hit by a wave of nostalgia, I was taken back to a time in my life when I played puzzle platformers made in flash on websites like Miniclip and Kongregate. These games were the 21st century equivalent of Arcade cabinets: minimal story and brutal difficulty curve. I played some of these games for hours at a time, and often never made it past the 3rd level. No Time To Explain feels like somebody grabbed one of those games, and went to effort of polishing it and balancing it to make it a real game. For good reason; the game started its life as a flash game on Kongregate. The version I played was a remastered Unity Version released in 2015.

The central mechanic is momentum; The primary weapon is a laser cannon that pushes you in the opposite direction of where it’s fired, meaning it functions as a jetpack. The moment to moment gameplay is almost entirely A to B traversal, meaning that the puzzle you’re solving is where to point the jetpack cannon, and the challenge is in nailing the execution of your jetpack maneuvers.

This central tool, the laser gun, is the games primary selling point; It’s simply fun to use. The closest the game ever came to losing my interest was in the mid game, when I would come across levels that I knew how to beat, but the technical execution would elude me, in these instances the rhythm of the game would break down, the looping ends of the soundtrack would reveal themselves, and I would start to feel less challenged, and more irritated. In the end I would prevail, and in reward for flying headfirst into spikes a thousand times in a row I gained a sense of finesse. I am by no means an expert at the game, but after twenty or so levels you get a sense of the physics of the laser gun, the optimal timings of when to fire it for maximum momentum, and the wrist flicks necessary to travel distance without sacrificing speed. This makes traversal a blast, and by the end of the game I found myself just wanting more levels to move through.

Honestly speaking, if this game were to be released today by an unknown dev it would probably be instantly buried; The art lacks in areas and the narrative is almost entirely forgettable, not necessarily a deal breaker for an arcade game, but it doesn’t help. The game mixes up its pace with a handful of levels that subvert the gameplay in interesting ways, one memorable level was an infinite runner, another turned the game into a side scrolling shooter. In many ways this game embodies the spirit of the Indie silver age from which it came: arcady, fun, sarcastic, A worthy diversion at the very least.

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