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No Time To Explain Review: Laser Rifles, Time Travel, and Dancing
No Time To Explain is a fast-paced 2D platformer where your main mode of travel is a gun so powerful that it doubles as a jet pack. You start out by using your super-powered rifle to chase yourself through time and the game’s looping plot keeps getting more outlandish from there. So dig in, because I do have time to explain.
Platforms: PC (Version Played), Xbox One
Genre: Puzzle-Platformer With Laser Rifles… and Time Travel… and Dancing…
Release Date: July 17, 2015
ESRB Rating: Teen
In No Time To Explain, you are your own damsel in distress. You start the game by getting told by yourself (from the future) not to panic, but there’s no time to explain. Future you gets grabbed by a giant crab and you pick up his gun and start the pursuit. These first few seconds perfectly set up this manic and comical puzzle-platformer.
What I found this game does exceptionally well is combine short level length with one or two puzzle concepts. It slowly makes them harder and harder, creating a nice, smooth difficulty curve that is punctuated with boss battles. Although the difficulty level increases, the amount of time the levels take doesn’t get out of control. They do take more tries to complete, though. A lot of the problem-solving revolves around timing, so if you don’t get the timing just right, then you have to start over. Consistent adding of little variations, like deadly or moving obstacles, keeps the problem-solving process from being too tedious.
As you start to navigate the levels, you find that your main mode of transportation is a rifle that pushes you in the opposite direction of its barrel. When pointed down, you effectively have a jetpack. Aside from the rifle propelling you, you can also walk and jump a small height. Additionally, for some reason, you can dance. Why can you dance? Because if you don’t dance, you’re a square, obviously. You don’t want to be a square, do you? I honestly have no idea why you can dance, but the ability accents the game’s overall sense of humor.
You can also collect hats in No Time To Explain by taking different or wrong ways through levels. The hats range in variety and some purposefully don’t mesh with the plain, hand-drawn art style. I definitely played a few levels with a giant photorealistic fox for a head. Other than being collectible and adding some humor, the hats don’t serve a real purpose. Again, the game is being silly because it wants to be.
But my favorite part of No Time To Explain is the absolutely hilarious voiceover. I would watch/listen to a video of just the voiceover and clips from the game. They are both well-delivered and well-timed. Hats off (pun intended!) to the developers there. The lines break the fourth wall at points and up the humor of certain situations (like a giant shark carrying one version of you off into the distance). Those lines were a motivating force for me to keep playing the game. Not that the rest wasn’t fun, but this was really the icing on the cake.
Sadly, I did stop playing the game before the end. Partway through the game the mechanics change. Essentially they invert. Instead of pointing in a direction, firing, and being pushed in the other direction, you point, click, and get dragged to that point at an accelerating pace. Your cursor becomes a black hole. The problem for me was my cursor would lock in position, unlike before, where I could trigger and move. This might have been OK, but if I kept the trigger active long enough for the character to reach my cursor, my cursor would get rendered off screen, which pretty much ended my progress.
No Time To Explain is a fun, funny, fast, twitch puzzle of a game. I had a lot of fun with it until it essentially became unplayable for me. I can’t quite tell if it was a bug in the game or a problem with my hardware, but it was unfortunate, and after 20 minutes of troubleshooting and “trying again”, I had to throw in the towel. No Time To Explain is great on so many other fronts, but it just died in the middle with that one little bug/feature. Other people may have more luck than I did. They will certainly have some laughs, so long as they don’t need to quit once the controls change.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of No Time To Explain was provided by TinyBuild for the purposes of this review.
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