Developers: Wes Selken, Izzy Aminov, & Brian Bunker
Publishers: Wes Selken, Izzy Aminov, & Brian Bunker (for Global Game Jam 2014)
Format: PC (browser/flash)
Many games now days try to implement some form or another of time travel. Some games do it well, others not so much, using it as a novelty or plot device. So where does Time Swap stand? I'd say this game worked well with it. Time travel in most cases can spiral out of control, becoming absurdly complex. Time Swap does things simply, only allowing the player to travel to the past and back. Back to the future! Or present, depending on how you look at it. Jeez, this is already getting complex.
This game is a puzzle platformer, first taking it's time to introduce the time swapping mechanic, then utilizes it in a variety of puzzles. Puzzles are all single screen stages that usually involve the player obtaining a keycard and getting to the door leading to the next level, all without getting caught by cameras or men. Both the keycard and the door the keycard opens are in the present, but in order to get to either the past must be traveled to.
The level is, for the most part, the same in structure going from the past to the present and vice versa. What really changes is what things were in the past. The typewriter became the computer, security guards were replaced with cameras, and so on. Both the past and present player characters have different abilities that force the player to travel in time, like lock picking and shutting of cameras.
Levels aren't ever too much of a challenge, but are always fair. There are threats in both the past and the present, and juggling both of them can take a bit of memorization when swapping around. Remembering where cameras are looking and making sure guards are just far away to keep them from getting you is key. Every once in a while a new mechanic is introduced to spice things up, be it with lock picking, turning off cameras, or teleporters.
The graphics are beautiful in the present and appropriately muddy in the past. The present's color pallet uses lots of grays, blues, greens, and yellows, while the past's is nothing but an array of browns. Good at conveying the classic old-timey look. The hand-drawn style overall is cute and appealing to the eye. It's just so enjoyable to look at.
The music is a single looping track, but at least it's not a bad one. Using drums, pianos, and electronic rifts to portray an atmosphere that is very fitting for this game. It's serious, emotional, and filled with a sense of purpose. It does it's job at formatting the tone nicely.
Narrative isn't something most flash games have, so even when there's a sprinkle of it I can't help but get excited. The narrative is weird. This corporation stole the past player character's invention before he could even finish it, and he goes back to his work to get it back. This is why all the guards chase after him. Well the player character of the present works at the place still, but is cool with all the guards. Why is this? Is the past player character not the same person of the present player character? (I actually know the answer but it's still fun to think about) It's honestly an interesting narrative you could sit and make a few interesting theories about.
For a free flash game Time Swap is an interesting experience. It's a little short, even for a flash game, but even so it's worth the little amount of time it takes to play through it. Everything about it is solid except it's length, which isn't honestly that big of a problem anyways.
Play Time Swap HERE