ReviewsReview: Time Keeper

Review: Time Keeper

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In Time Keeper puzzles, platforms, time travel and sentient robots are the order of the day. And the combination was more enjoyable than I anticipated.

Fix the MacGuffin!

You play as a little robot who has just woken up with its memories missing. You make your way to an ominously lit building and meet a floating ball of energy called the guardian. It explains that things are in dire straits and all of existence is in peril. Mysterious creatures known as temporal parasites have arrived like a plague capable of travelling across time and space. In their wake, this building, the cosmic clock, has been damaged. Now I don’t know about you, but something with the word cosmic in the title sure sounds important. Needless to say, the stability of space-time isn’t doing so hot.

On top of this bombshell, the guardian asks for your help. You’re the only one left who can repair the cosmic clock. The stakes are high, and the inner workings of this cosmic business are unclear. But suspend your disbelief and use your brainpower on mechanical puzzles instead. You might just find yourself having a pretty good time. 

One Small Step, One Smaller Leap

Time Keeper is a puzzle platformer at its core and naturally, this is where the best moments of my playthrough came from. In order to make repairs, you need to traverse and avoid dangerous gaps, mines, temporal parasites, and flame geysers, among other traps and pitfalls. The level design works well enough for the platforming, time your jumps right and you’re sailing. 

However, something that may grind some people’s gears is the pitiful jump your little robot buddy sports. It may be a matter of personal preference, but be warned of painfully slow jumps that cover very little distance. On one hand, It makes gameplay more purposeful. Every move is slow enough for you to give jumps some thought before you’ve even made it near a ledge. It also makes it quite easy to get the timing right on jumps. You’ll rarely ever over or undershoot anything. But on the other hand, it can make gameplay feel a little lethargic. I can admit that at times I just wished there was a dash or sprint button from the get-go.

Leaps of Logic

Platforming is only half the battle though, and the easy half at that. The real challenge comes from the many mechanical puzzles hindering your repairs. Time Keeper makes use of “cause and effect” puzzles. Levers and switches will affect doors, each other, platforms, and rolling balls that can trigger switches in your place. Triggering everything in the right sequence is the only way to progress. But finding the right sequence is where the challenge lies. Often these puzzles will mix with the platforming placing a larger emphasis on timing. 

Things start off simple, but they quickly evolve into some proper head-scratchers. Thankfully your robot gains an extremely beneficial ability; time travel. When you make a mistake or flip the wrong switch blocking progress you’re able to go back to the beginning of the puzzle. This is especially useful in later stages where trial and error is the only way to avoid sitting with a notepad for a few hours trying to figure out how to solve a particularly tough puzzle. Thanks to this one mechanic I found myself a lot more comfortable making mistakes and taking risks. The mechanical puzzles provide just the right amount of challenge. They’ll require some thought and at times careful timing to progress. However, the inclusion of the time travel ability makes it a lot more enjoyable to experiment with systems and figure out a solution.

You’ll pull a lever to get a ball rolling. Run over to a switch to stop the ball from triggering the wrong one. Then wait for it to pass before making a mad dash to get a nearby platform it will soon be raising. Solving these puzzles, and pulling it all off was so satisfying. That moment when everything clicked and it all just made sense was a feeling I found myself chasing before too long. I often caught myself going for “one more level”. The levels are just the right length for this too. They never overstay their welcome. A handful of puzzles per level and you find yourself rewarded with progress, making for an addictive gameplay loop.

Beauty & the Beast

Time Keeper employs classical music as the majority of its soundtrack. Which worked quite well with its gameplay. It’s the kind of music that one would never really find grating or annoying after spending an extended amount of time navigating through a more difficult section. Unless of course, you really don’t care for classical music in general. Something about the puzzle-solving, platforming and robots really meshed well with the music choices.

However, this music isn’t present throughout. There are many levels where the music inexplicably changes into generic platforming music that I struggle to recall even now. They’re just awfully forgettable pieces that really made me miss the presence of the classical pieces.

Visually this title reminds me of an early 2000’s low budget CGI animated film. Textures are really low, colours are drab, and at times it feels like they just tossed in a couple of JPEGS and PNGs for the backgrounds and traps. However, it’s not without a couple of good looking moments, particularly nighttime levels when the moon is present. Lighting is utilised a bit better, but honestly, I think the darkness is just an effective way to hide the unappealing art style.

Time Keeper has a lot of charm that shines through its more dull aspects such as the story and visuals. Its gameplay is engaging, and the reward of completing puzzles stands on the merit of their quality. It was a surprisingly fun time that I can recommend to individuals who might enjoy some cause and effect problem-solving.

SUMMARY

+ Great puzzles
+ Solid platforming
+ Loved the use of classical music
- Forgettable story
- Looked a bit ugly at times

(Reviewed on PC)
Jonah Ehlers
Jonah Ehlers
A lover of films, dogs and cooking, even though I'm terrible at it most days. Ever since my first console (the legendary PS2) I have had an immense love for Video games. It has given me some of my favourite memories, my closest friends and countless hours of fun.

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Review: Time Keeper+ Great puzzles <br /> + Solid platforming <br /> + Loved the use of classical music <br /> - Forgettable story <br /> - Looked a bit ugly at times <br /> <br /> (Reviewed on PC)