So there you are on your first day on the job as a mage trainee going through the last bit of ropes when all the proverbial crap hits the fan. The tutorial sets The Ambassador: Fractured Timelines up very well. Admittedly, when a whole city is destroyed, it’s not generally a time to laugh, but if I’m going to be honest here… I may have giggled a little (the situation wasn’t humorous, the writing was). When it was go-time, I was ready to use my twin-stick skills for the power of awesome! How’d I do? Well, let me break it down for you.
I’m not going to call the graphics here “retro” (as they call it) or “classic”, but I dig the overall look of the game. Pixelated is an aesthetic that some developers are going for lately and I can appreciate it as I am a sucker for pixel games. There is a bias here, but pixels alone can’t save a game. The game looks pretty good. Some levels turn out a lot better visually than some as the colors chosen contrast each other and look great while some are bland (for level atmosphere purposes though). I make that distinction because the first level was a jungle and the second is a forest while the third is kind of a post-apocalypse type. The animations are smooth, even when they kill me. It reminds me of a top-down version of the great Regions of Ruin (Review).
“It’s a twin-stick shooter man! How does it twin-stick?!?” I’m getting to that! It does it well. There you go. I’ve got no complaints here. The only real complaint I had was with my ability to remember that there is a time-stoping ability. When you press the appropriate button, there is a bubble that pops up around you stopping the time inside of it for a limited amount of time. I know what you may be thinking. How can one forget about an ability that is basically the main crux of the game? It takes a special kind of person; trust me. This ability plays a key role in a good chunk of the combat so I had to get my stuff together. They utilize this ability better and better in the later levels (obviously) with the varied enemy designs. Some of the baddies teach you that it’s needed in pretty awesome ways… though it usually costs you some health. This is especially true for the “Thor” enemy type. He’s a big jerk.
I decided that since I’m *so amazing* that I would obviously start out on the highest difficulty option of levels because I’m not bad at games. I got decently far. I picked up some cool looking armor, got a giant sword to chuck… good stuff all around. It got pretty tricky and I eventually decided to go back to the beginning. When you stop time, you’re able to see the trajectory of projectiles (inside the bubble) and stop giant sliding blocks of doom from smashing you. You’re also able stop attacks that are about to hit you so you can realize that you don’t have enough “time-stop juice” to get out of the way and then take a giant rock in the face. There’s so many uses! Aside from baiting giant baddies into attacking so you can preemptively slow time to dodge, they also throw in the “slow down time so you can get across the bridge/get past a wall of arrows”. There is a fair bit of varied use to the time-stopping ability that stops it from feeling like a gimmick and I’m happy to see they struck that note just right.
“Multiple difficulty settings ranging from easy and accessible to head-smashing-into-desk mode!” This statement proves true if you just keep progressing. While you can increase the difficulty manually, if you haven’t bashed your face into your keyboard yet or enough, you can always try to complete all the stages in the suggested time. I tried a few different times and got down to a difference of .78 seconds. I just couldn’t do it. Now, you may tell me that I shouldn’t start tying to do time trials on levels with enemies that teleport randomly around… you would be correct. A wiser person probably wouldn’t have done that. For now, I’m just settling on beating the game, not beating the game into submission.