Timespinner has been a bit of a slow burner for me. I’d first heard about the game a couple years ago when its Kickstarter campaign was launched and instantly fell in love with the idea of it – but time passed, and I soon completely forgot about the game… that is until the game finally launched last week, and oh boy was it worth the wait.
Taking very obvious inspiration from side-scrolling, 2D platformers like Castlevania and Metroid, Timespinner offers its own take on the genre, offering a new story, refreshed animations, art and most importantly: A fresh take on established game mechanics.
Upon loading the game, you’re introduced to Lunais, a trainee ‘time messenger’ in the seemingly eternal fight against the Lachiem Empire. ‘Time Messengers’ are a unique type of defence for Lunais’ clan – they use their powers of time travel to go back and warn the clan of future attacks, but this comes at a cost. Heartbreakingly, whenever a Time Messenger goes back in time, they wipe themselves from the timeline, meaning to the clan, they never existed.
Lunais’ clan’s ultimate goal is to protect the Timespinner, an ancient piece of technology that gives the Time Messengers their ability to traverse through time. As Lunais’ training ceremony comes to a close, the Timespinner is attacked by the Lachiem Empire, kickstarting the main story and Lunais’ quest.
Describing the story anymore could give way to huge potential stories, but that small excerpt only scratches the surface on an excellent and well-told story.
Timespinner’s use of 32-bit, pixel art style is nothing short of beautiful. Each environment is clearly different, you’ll go from fantasy-like forests to post-apocalyptic, war-torn cities seamlessly. This is helped by the level design – as mentioned early, Timespinner utilises time mechanics throughout and this actively changes the map layout. For example, if you burn down vines in the past, it may reveal hidden areas or secrets in the future, making the levels more dynamic and making your actions actually have an impact on the game.
The time mechanics don’t just apply to the level design, one of Lunais’ skills is her ability to use the Timespinner to briefly freeze time, meaning she is able to use enemies as platforms to solve puzzles, or as an easy escape. I personally found her time-stopping ability particularly useful when fighting the many bosses in the game – being able to briefly stop time and plan out your next attack, or work on your positioning proved invaluable against some of the more difficult bosses.
Along with her ability to control time, Lunais also possesses magical orbs that are infused with different abilities: Red orbs can control fire, green orbs act as swords, blue orbs channel aura etc. The inclusion of orbs instead of standard melee combat changes the gameplay from what is expected in the genre – rather than always having to be up-close to enemies, you can use your magical abilities to take them out from afar or charge them up to unleash an even greater attack.
One thing that Timespinner can’t be praised enough for, is its soundtrack. It’s beautifully composed and is heavily reminiscent of 90s side-scrolling, platforms. It goes from eerie medieval tracks to upbeat, rock songs which match the environments and story perfectly and only adds to the nostalgia trip that Timespinner provides.
It’s honestly hard to pick out anything that is inherently bad with this game. The mechanics are interesting and innovative, the worlds are dynamic and mysterious, and Timespinner’s story reflects this.
Timespinner manages to succeed in replicating the success of games like Symphony of the Night, while also shining in its own regards and definitely sticks out as one of the more impressive 2D, platformers that have come from Kickstarter campaigns in the past. This is a game I can easily recommend to anyone and I’m eager to see what Lunar Ray Games come out with next.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*