I love original and inventive indie games that offer something different for gamers to enjoy; titles that don’t fall into the cookie-cutter AAA title category. Unquestionably, No Time To Explain stands strongly within that group of creative and quirky titles with its unique style of platforming. It’s a 2D side-scrolling action game that sees the hero running through time with laser canon in hand. Originally released on Steam in 2011, this new ‘remastered version’ is mostly the same experience; although, it has been rebuilt from the ground up using the Unity engine, and with a multiplayer added in.
To sum up the game for someone who didn’t play the original, like myself: the game sees the player bouncing around through time, jumping into time portals and playing other versions of themselves through different dimensions. That does sound like a mouthful, but amongst all that there is plenty of humour and interesting over-the-top platforming.
There isn’t too much to the story as there’s no time to explain – sorry, couldn’t help myself! Although, the actual setup isn’t much different. Your character starts out in the lounge room having a dance by himself and enjoying life, when, suddenly, there’s an explosion leaving a large hole in the roof of your home. Then springs a futuristic version of yourself telling you, “I’m you from the future: there’s no time to explain.” And out of nowhere comes a massive claw that smashes through the wall, grabs your future self and carries him away as he screams in agony. You then make the chase, grabbing his powerful laser cannon, because, you know – you’ve got to save his life for no explained reason.
The story is brief but unreservedly amusing and straight away puts you right into the action of the game. From there, the diverse level design and quantity of challenges make No Time to Explain mostly enjoyable from the get go. The laser canon mechanic is an interesting addition to the platforming genre, particularly as the levels go on, where the game requires swift thinking and watchful aiming to direct you properly when mid-jump. Later levels also provide the player with different guns; such as a shotgun, for example – it’s a lot stronger but offers a shorter blast of power.
The main goal of each level is for the player to traverse a series of jumps using the laser cannon, which acts as a sort of rocket pack. It requires control and precision: fire the gun after you’ve jumped, and you’ll go higher; fire the canon as you go over a gap, and it’ll carry you further. It’s all based on the positioning of the character and the timing of your shooting if you’re to make it to the exit portal. Progressively, each stage builds up to harder sections to increase the challenge, but I didn’t find anything demanding about it because after you die you simply respawn to the last platform.
With that being said, the boss battles offer something a little different as they will be the only time where you can use your laser canon as an actual weapon. Basically, the idea is to use the laser to attack while at the same time using it to dodge the enemy itself. You have to focus on constantly switching between damaging the enemy and avoiding it, which I thought was an interesting way to approach boss battles. In addition, you only have three lives, and if you die, it’s back to the stage you go. Each boss is different from the last with a unique attack pattern that you’ll need to learn.
This game’s real hero is the comedy, though. It’s full of over-the-top craziness, especially with your future self painfully screaming lines such as “My rib is in my eye!” Though sometimes the voice work overstays it’s welcome and can get repetitive. The look of the game also resonates with a simple cartoon style that pairs well with its humorous approach.
No Time to Explain is a fun and humorous platformer that’s built around an easy-to-follow concept. In many ways, it reminded me a lot of Super Meat Boy; though not nearly as challenging (or as frustrating). The platform design is clever and the element of weapon weight makes each challenge about time and accuracy. Although, some of that reward feels lost because of its overly forgiving respawn system. Sadly, I also found that the controls could be a little hit and miss, but, thanks to unique boss fights, it remained interesting enough to hold my attention. Overall, it’s a little lacking in substance, but I still thought it was an amusing and challenging game that’s great to play in short bursts.
DISCLAIMER: this game was supplied by the developer and reviewed on Xbox One across 5 hours of gameplay.