I’m not quite sure what’s going on, all I know is that there’s a lot of it.
Super Time Force is a crazy platformer done in the currently popular faux-16Bit style. You take control of one of the members of the eponymous Super Time Force at a time. There’s a machine gunner with a wide spread of firepower, a sniper who can bounce bullets of the walls and shoot through them, and a guy who can make shields. As you progress you’ll collect other Force members, including a Denver the Last Dinosaur lookalike.
The gimmick is that as you traverse the level, you can choose at any point to rewind your gameplay and start again from any previous spot with any character you like. But all of your original characters are still there! So you may end up running down a dead end to get power ups or to kill a pesky bad guy, but that wastes a lot of time, so you rewind and start again, letting your previous-self do that side task while your current-self moves on through the level.
You can see all of your past selves running about and shooting like heavily armoured ghosts. If you do die, you can rewind as well, and then if you run over the spot where you died you get to collect an extra hit point (your regular character only takes one hit to die).
This rewinding is pretty great when it comes to boss fights, because you can keep rewinding and adding more and more characters into the mix to kill your enemy faster. This is important because you are literally racing the clock. Power ups along the way will add time to the clock, give you extra rewinds (there are only a limited number), and an odd slow-down “bullet time” effect that helps you gain ground.
While it’s a fairly simple concept - figuring out how to maximise your time and use the rewind to the best effect takes some learning. You could do the whole level with the same character and without rewinding, but then you’d certainly run out of time. Aiming is difficult (for example aiming on an angle also causes your character to walk forward), so can take time lining up a shot to remove a bad guy, then rewind time so that your current self runs by as your past self lines up the shot. Or maybe you charge the shield guy forward, then rewind to select a gunner to walk along behind him and take out the bad guys.
The retro look suits the gameplay to a tee. The huge blocks of colour match the hectic activity on screen, sometimes filled with dozens of versions of you, all shooting and jumping around.
A few things did bug me about the game though. The levels aren’t always the easiest to figure out where you’re supposed to go; with the retro artwork hiding the doorways you're supposed to blast through, or obscuring the holes you’re meant to jump in.
Also the way the levels are designed mean that you can get trapped in a space where it doesn’t matter how many rewinds you have, you will always run out of time. For example, I had ten rewinds left, but even with all the enemies cleared, I still didn’t have enough time to cross the finish line. But this is part of the gameplay and you just have to cut your losses and start over, as frustrating as it is.
The thing that bugged me the most though was the attempts at humour. Long dialogue boxes that were thankfully skippable, but full of the lamest jokes and writing that was aching to be coolly ironic. It was all a bit much when all I wanted to do was jump back into the chaos.
Overall, Super Time Force is “Super Timely Fun!”. Gunning and running and meeting up with your past selves to cause as much destruction as you can.