Time Loader

Time Loader

The little robot that could/would/is/will/did... tenses mean nothing here.

time loader

Time travel is a fairly widely used plot device in films – and the backbone of pretty much any Star Trek series – but is the road less travelled in gaming.  It’s a shame as the medium offers so much potential for interaction and the ability to mess up reality timelines with a little hands on meddling.  Maybe that’s why it’s not done because the permutations require too much thinking and coding.  That’s not to say there haven’t been some temporal based levels in games that show how changing minor things in the past can impact massively in the present, but I can’t think of a full title right now that’s solely based around that premise.  However, Time Loader does just that.  It’s all about heading to 1995 to alter fate, though it’s more like Wall-E got pushed into the machine instead of the Terminator.

Adam Wright is a brilliant scientist, but as a boy he suffered a terrible accident when he fell out of his treehouse.  Paralysis didn’t limited his interest in physics and robotics, and having had his childhood dreams of playing professional baseball crushed, he invents an AI robot to send back in time and stop his fall on that terrible day.  The only catch is that the time machine is made from a microwave and needs its user to be small… so we get a robot about the size of a remote control car.  Equipped with a single loading arm and one speed of trundling, can the little robot navigate the complexities of a mid-1990s house and stop those tragic events from happening?  Will it be careful enough to not alter anything else in the timeline and mess up the future?  I think you know the answers to that already, though even with that kind of prescience it doesn’t meant that Time Loader isn’t a fun jaunt.

Taking the machinations of time travel out of the equation, Time Loader is a fairly straightforward side scrolling platformer where the aim of the game is to solve physics and traversal puzzles to reach an objective.  Our hero robot can move left and right, jump and grab with its arm – whether that’s to pick up objects or swing from handily placed posts.  Along the way it will build up additional skills that help with investigating the world in 1995 and present day, and open up more opportunities for exploration… or changing the past.  Following the objective markers leads to making the necessary adjustments to the timeline, which then computes whether Adam will avoid the accident or not.  Of course, things aren’t so simple as making one change and you’ll find yourself led across breadcrumb trails until the right outcome appears.  Or rather, as right as it can be.  There are several endings to the game, including a secret one that requires a fair amount of leg work; and interacting (or not) with various pieces of history can have quite an effect on Adam’s life.

What strikes most in the early stages is the lovely art style and aesthetic used to create the 1990s vibe.  With a 2.5D presentation that focuses on relatively small levels, there’s the opportunity to really go for the detail to create the ambiance, and Flazm deliver on that.  VHS tapes, colour palettes, technology and interior design all combine to make you feel like you’re exploring a house from the past.  The robot’s commentary on what it finds as it explores is a mix of tongue-in-cheek quips and genuine amazement, and it brings an innocence to the gameplay without simplifying anything.  Initially it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot going on in the environments, but as you progress and pick up on the clues you can start to make adjustments that change the future.  Some of these have story impacts, whilst others are used to reach usually locked off areas.  It’s a nice touch that Time Loader leaves you to figure these out for yourself and only guides you along the main story path.

For a physics puzzler it does what you’d expect, though it can take a bit before you see the actual physics in action.  I’d actually forgotten those elements until the first puzzle appeared that needed me to make use of object weights and sizes, but it gently reminds you and there’s never anything too complicated to solve.  The vast majority of Time Loader is spent traversing the rooms because there is only one movement speed, yet it’s the response and heft of the robot that drives that.  Weirdly, there’s a tangible feel to the traction it gets and its weight when it swings around, and as the skills get added it becomes more satisfying.  There’s the odd glitch mainly around the arm when it gets stuck under something, though fixing it can be as easy as reloading the last checkpoint – and the frequency of those means no progress is lost.  If I had a criticism of the control scheme it’s that the arm isn’t independently controlled by the right stick of the controller, it practically begs for it, and it might see you ineffectively pushing it in the beginning until you realise it’s not meant to be.

There’s a good story at the heart of Time Loader that moves the action forward, and the multiple endings certainly help for replay value at the end.  During my playthrough I did end up thinking I’d have liked a little more from the puzzles that challenged me, and even a bit more to the story because despite the way it plays out making sense, it resolves a bit too quickly.  What you do get though is a very nicely presented game with solid mechanics that does something a bit different whilst keeping within the familiar confines of the side scrolling platformer.  There’s delight to be had in the nostalgia, intrigue from the transient shenanigans, and a feeling that maybe we’d all like a sentient little robot watching out for our future.

A PS4 review copy of Time Loader was provided by Flazm’s PR team, and the game is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch for under £15 depending on platform.

The Verdict


The Good: Lovely movement | Interesting story

The Bad: Limited puzzle challenge | Over quite quickly

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Co-founder & Editor at Codec Moments

Gamer, F1 fanatic, one half of the Muddyfunkrs DJ duo (find us over on Hive Radio UK), MGS obsessed, tech geek.

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