‘Timelie’ is a time based puzzle game developed by ‘Urnique Studio’. Going in, I had no idea what to expect but I was very pleased with the experience. As soon as the game opens, players are introduced to a minimalist menu with soft ambient music playing. This perfectly sets the overall tone and feeling for the rest of the game without overdoing it. It would be very tempting to have added a background or border decorations, but the pure black backing coupled with the glowing text fit perfectly with the mysterious atmosphere. This game evokes similar feelings to early gameplay of ‘Portal’ by Valve, but without the black comedy provided by the protagonist.
Beginning, players take control of a mysterious girl who awakens from a bed in a surreal world. From this point on story elements are few and far between. The first couple of levels see the girl wandering through rooms reminiscent of office spaces filled with deactivated security bots. The first few rooms also introduce the puzzle mechanics and provides a vague hint at what’s truly going on. Players learn through gameplay the girl’s time powers which she can activate after collecting glowing cubes, which are known as ‘Mementos’. After becoming familiar with the controls, the girls exit the stage, only for a cutscene to show the security bots waking up and patrolling the area, which become the main obstacle in the game thereon out.
Later in the game, the girl finds a cat who shakes things up by ducking through ventilation shafts to distract the robots, implying there is indeed more life in this world than just the playable character. After following the cat through a few rooms, the two meet up, and from that point on are able to work together collectively to solve puzzles and avoid security.
Not much else is shown early in the game, but the pace at which new elements are revealed is good at giving the player new experiences consistently, without overwhelming or going too slow.
“Timelie” has a very simple control scheme. Point, click, to move. Players are then forced to walk by and collect a glowing cube which grants our hero’s time powers. She is also able to repair crumbled floors. After this, the full extent of her powers are introduced in a cutscene that allows the player to fast forward and rewind time, stopping where they see fit to try and alter the course of the scenario. All of these moments help establish to the player how to utilise the controls, which makes the start of this game non obtrusive.
An interesting choice was to have the entire puzzle play out after the player has accomplished it. While the option to skip is presented by holding the space button, it does seem a tad strange that the player would need to see the puzzle repeat again after having solved it a literal second ago. At first, this decision seemed a little strange, but after thinking more about it, it kind of eventually made sense. Every puzzle seems to have only one correct solution, as if there isn’t really any freedom to change things.
The girl’s time powers are further solidified by the play backs, implying this is the way an outsider may perceive her adventure, instead of being able to see the stop and start she goes through; that or she is simply planning out the course in her head, but that would go against the Time theme, wouldn’t it.
Things start out simple then ramp up in challenge as each room goes by, but it never feels like too much is being thrown at the player at once. Each room has a number of doors which are linked to pressure pads and wall mounted control panels which must be carefully considered in what sequence everything must be done in order to get to each level’s escape.
Soon, a cat is introduced which helps shake things up, as the cat can duck in and out of vents, causing the security bots to chase it and mix up their walking patterns even more than before. After a short while, the girl and the cat team up, and the player has to manage two independent characters in order to solve puzzles. The two share control schemes, but each have their own useful mechanics. The girl and cat can both step on pressure pads, but only the girl can use the wall mounted switches, and repair broken floors with her powers. The cat on the other hand can slip through tight spaces, as mentioned before, but on top of this, can also meow to distract the security bots.
Artstyle and sound
‘Timelie’ is a stunning game to look at. The character models are simplistic, but very appealing, while the world is blocky, sleek and clean. The lighting in this game is very deliberate, all of it is very soft and faint, while the terrain is sharply edged and full of strong dark colours, which creates an atmosphere of mysticism.
The soundtrack of this game is made up of soft ambience rather than strong melodies.
The soft humming and throbbing of the music couples perfectly with the artstyle to create a feeling of isolation and intrigue.
It is also worthy to note that gameplay continues on while the game is paused. This is interesting, but ultimately makes little difference considering the gameplay can essentially be paused mid puzzle with no consequence. There are also no fail states, when you are caught by a security bot, they simply bonk you on the head with their knight sticks, and you are forced to rewind.
The world of ‘Timelie’ is intriguing and mysterious, and should leave most who experience it wanting to learn more about the girl and the world she inhabits. The gameplay is simple, easy to understand and very fun to play. I am happy to have gotten the chance to play this game, and cannot wait to see what challenges and surprises the game has in store.
- Lovely art style and music
- Immersive gameplay that is incredibly easy to manage
- Challenge curve and story elements are paced excellently
- Inventive puzzles
- There aren’t any I can see at the moment