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Timespinner - What is a homage? A miserable little pile of influences!

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Out Now

Price: £14.99

Metacritic: 82

 

So on the eve of Bloodstained getting released, a small indie game has been released on the Switch eshop and on Xbox (it released last year on the PS4 and Steam) called Timespinner. And it's Castlevania. No seriously, it's Castlevania. Look at the map!

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Basically, you play a young girl who travels through time to try and stop an Empire from destroying her homeland. This involves travelling from the past to the present in an effort to figure out a way to reach the Emperor and kill him. 

So there's castles. And backtracking. And big, screen filling bosses. And it's great. Seriously, if you're a fan of the old DS Castlevanias, give it a go. You won't be disappointed. 

 

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timespinnerlogocbk3b.jpg

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I'm currently playing through this and I would not recommend it unfortunately. Especially if you're a die hard Igavania fan you've seen all this before only much better. Some criticism:

  • The world is boring. There's some nice areas but they all blend into each other. There's no real interesting ways to access new areas (it even has key cards). There's a past/present version of the map but it fails to really do something with it even though the story pretends it does.
  • The story doesn't work very well. There's some vaguely interesting time travel ideas but it all feels very by the numbers. Characters are completely forgettable and most of the story is told via 'memory' text dumps.
  • The time stop mechanic as shown in the gif above is introduced in the beginning of the game and then forgotten about mostly. 
  • Bosses are too easy. Some of them might have interesting mechanics but I didn't figure them out because they died from me standing there hitting them while tanking their damage (even though I'm specced for dealing damage and not defense).
  • The loot isn't very interesting. There's equipment that changes some stats, but it's hard to notice any effect. Also maybe I'm just unlucky but most stuff I pick up seems to be worse than what I already have. The weapons you use are orbs which come in a few different forms, some of these are pretty cool. I found myself using the same few for most of the game though. There's also a rudimentary upgrade system.
  • There's a quest system but most quests are standard go kill 10 of this or collect that for me. 
  • The graphics look nice but there's some performance issues on Switch: in some area's (or moments?) frame rate will drop in the 10's. It's usually fixed when transitioning screen.

It's not actually a bad game, but it's just not interesting. I'm writing this not to put a downer on this thread but to warn anyone who like me loves these kind of games and is hoping to find some magic here that there isn't. 

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The loot is a bit dull usually unfortunately and the bosses have been a bit weak (except for this one bastard I'm stuck at right now :angry:) but I think this is excellent, up there with the better handheld Konami efforts if not quite SotN standard. Maybe I'm just easily pleased that someone's finally got the basics right after being disappointed by so many of the hyped 'vanias on the eShop - Iconoclasts, The Mummy, Gato Roboto, Dandara, Axiom Verge. Basically all of them bar Hollow Knight.

 

I've not seen any performance issues in eight hours incidentally, roughly 50/50 between handheld and docked. It runs great.

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Played through this a couple of months back, not the best game ever but decent enough to keep my interest. Seemed a bit ill thought out in places, like you can get a lot of orbs but some seemed so massively overpowered that there was never any point using subsequent ones. Never really understood the point of the familiars either.

 

Also I kept forgetting to use the time freeze or not realising where I could... like in that gif I could've just used that sort of thing on so many bosses but didn't. Tended to just brutalise my way through instead, it's not a hard game. It's alright, worked well on the Vita anyway.

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9 hours ago, stefcha said:

Played through this a couple of months back, not the best game ever but decent enough to keep my interest. Seemed a bit ill thought out in places, like you can get a lot of orbs but some seemed so massively overpowered that there was never any point using subsequent ones. Never really understood the point of the familiars either.

 

Also I kept forgetting to use the time freeze or not realising where I could... like in that gif I could've just used that sort of thing on so many bosses but didn't. Tended to just brutalise my way through instead, it's not a hard game. It's alright, worked well on the Vita anyway.

 

The familiars were a bit pointless in Symphony of the Night too. They just made a not very difficult game even easier.

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Posted this earlier in the eShop thread, but ehr, better here I guess. :)

 

 

 

Was finally able to put some time (heh) in Timespinner and it’s good-ish. Obviously is in love with SotN and unlike Chasm actually realises what made that game good. 

 

While it has better enemies, attack patterns, and level design than Chasm, it does have a few issues in. There are weird sub-quests that are basically fetch quests, but non-offensive in that they grow along with you in where you can get items. The rewards are rather slim however. Mostly story beats.

 

Some of the level design falls flat. It has some really nice sequences only to give you near endless corridors with simplistic enemies right after. Somewhat sad is that the best design pieces are basically rips from SotN.

 

Your weapons and the variation therein is great, but your “magic” and equipment is just simplistic and without a lot of variety and/or use. Bit of a shame. 

 

The story is... a bit much? Right from the start it’s kind of obvious this is going to play the grey card, and the game goes out of its way to make it the greyest grey of greys. Resulting in three hours of FFXIII-levels of gibberish and names being bandied about. When it does slot into place everything falls a bit flat. 

 

In terms of graphics and music this would’ve dug up that old skeleton sprite if it got the chance while having a fully orchestrated Bloody Tears in the background. It’s cute mostly. Sometimes a bit fanboyish. 

 

Regardless, this is the game I expected Chasm to be. It’s good, just not a stone cold classic. If you’re looking to plug that SotN shaped hole in your heart, now that the GBA/DS Castlevania series has truly ended, this will fill it up nicely. Just wish it was a tad more focused in its own setting. 

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Completed this yesterday. Accidentally, I might add. I thought the game was finally opening up, but nope, that was the end of it. There's obviously a better ending available and I'll probably get to it, because the game plays very well. It never manages to fulfill the potential of its mechanics though.

 

The story however is god-awful. No, not the themes and the queerness of it (that's actually nicely done), it's just infodump after infodump in a way that would make '80s Transformers comic writers jealous. So much tell, so little show. At the end you'll fight bosses which should matter to you, but simply don't because... "who the hell are they?" Sure, once you start digging it does fit together, but that's more after the fact than before, and there was never a mystery itch to scratch to start with. The final showdown is totally bereft of importance. I mean, even bloody Alucard and Dracula managed a tinge of emotion at the end of SotN, and that's as cheesy as things get around here.

 

That said I will be ploughing through a NG+. The game just flows well. Really flows well. It's great to play, even when set next to Bloodstained, and a solid 7/10. Could've gone up to 8 if it managed to make its gimmicks slot together. If you're a veteran, pick this up as a snack. If you're new here, opt for Bloodstained instead, unless you want a really soft introduction to the genre.

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1 hour ago, spanky debrest said:

Reading this thread reminded me of why I'm completely turned off from this genre nowadays. It's like shovelware to me.

 

Please tell me you played Hollow Knight before you sacked the genre off...

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2 hours ago, spanky debrest said:

Reading this thread reminded me of why I'm completely turned off from this genre nowadays. It's like shovelware to me.

 

Have to agree. I appreciate that some people never get tired of the template but any time I see a 2d platform/action type game announced these days my first thought is "please don't be a metroidvania". Unfortunately 99 times out of 100, it's a metroidvania.

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38 minutes ago, matt0 said:

 

Please tell me you played Hollow Knight before you sacked the genre off...

 

Too late I'm afraid.

 

I've heard great things about Hollow Knight (and Axiom Verge) but I knew when I was going around 100%ing Portrait of Ruin a couple of years ago that I was done with the formula. I switched the game off mid backtrack, placed it back in its case and sold it the next day. The other DS games went shortly afterwards and I think the GBA ones need to go too.

 

No disrespect or trolling meant here. 

 

I pondered starting a thread about why I can't enjoy these games anymore but I don't think there's much of a discussion to be had aside from what might have changed in my life to affect how I view them.

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26 minutes ago, partious said:

 

Have to agree. I appreciate that some people never get tired of the template but any time I see a 2d platform/action type game announced these days my first thought is "please don't be a metroidvania". Unfortunately 99 times out of 100, it's a metroidvania.

 

God yes. 

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I love a good Metroidvania, but what you describe sounds similar to how I feel about the terms 'procedurally generated' and 'roguelike', so I can understand. My heart sinks when I'm reading about a promising-looking new game and those words appear.

 

It's a shame you won't get to enjoy Hollow Knight, though. It's genuinely fantastic.

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I can see getting a bit frustrated at the metroidvania genre, there's been a real slew of them in recent years, and even the long anticipated return from Iga himself was full of baffling art and design and decisions. Not to mention the terrible balancing, though that has historical precedent. And the boss fights that went on far, far too long. And the platforming. Er, anyway. There's been a lot, and most of them are quite mediocre.

 

Hollow Knight though, is the best game of 2018. And it didn't even come out in 2018!

 

P.s. I also love rogue-lite design when done well. Sure there are a lot of mediocre ones there too, but Spelunky is one of the cleverest games I've ever played, Nuclear Throne is endlessly replayable arcade fun, and Slay the Spire is the best game to come out this year (even though it came out last year). Metroidvania roguelikes though? Well, there's Chasm, and Chasm can fuck right off!

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I, on the other hand, love a 2d retro 8/16bit styled metroidvania. Even the mediocre ones with nothing exciting or original about them. I find the actual mechanical action of playing them enjoyable and satisfying. See that door up there that you can't get to? When you eventually gain the ability to get up to high places then come back to that door. Mmmmm, satisfying.

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23 minutes ago, dug said:

I, on the other hand, love a 2d retro 8/16bit styled metroidvania. Even the mediocre ones with nothing exciting or original about them. I find the actual mechanical action of playing them enjoyable and satisfying. See that door up there that you can't get to? When you eventually gain the ability to get up to high places then come back to that door. Mmmmm, satisfying.

I'm the same. I'll play any and all of them I can find. I might drop them pretty quickly if they're not up to much, but when one grabs me, I'm pretty much hooked until completion. 

 

And Hollow Knight is definitely the pinnacle so far. 

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14 hours ago, spanky debrest said:

 

Too late I'm afraid.

 

I've heard great things about Hollow Knight (and Axiom Verge) but I knew when I was going around 100%ing Portrait of Ruin a couple of years ago that I was done with the formula. I switched the game off mid backtrack, placed it back in its case and sold it the next day. The other DS games went shortly afterwards and I think the GBA ones need to go too.

 

No disrespect or trolling meant here. 

 

I pondered starting a thread about why I can't enjoy these games anymore but I don't think there's much of a discussion to be had aside from what might have changed in my life to affect how I view them.

 

Completely understand though. The genre is now at a point that everyone can make a working one, but few can make a great one. I'd say Hollow Knight is the only one that I'd recommend, but I'd do so in general. It's an instant classic.

 

Chasm, Gato Roboto, Timespinner, et al are bad to mediocre at best. That and the fact that Metrodvania is basically an expansion pack for the now ancient platforming genre, makes it not as enticing as it once was. It's getting really old these days.

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