No Time to Explain is exactly the game you would expect from the title. Comical, over the top, and non sensical. It’s a fun little arcade title, that’s engaging and amusing. As a venture into the indie market for the Xbox One however, they could have possibly done a little better than a port of a mostly positive game already available on PC.
That’s not to say that No Time to Explain is a bad game. It’s very enjoyable, but for all the recent blustering at E3 for Xbox One’s commitment to the indie world, and the critically acclaimed ID@Xbox program, No Time to Explain doesn’t quite reach the bar.
No Time to Explain, is, given the chance to explain itself, a relatively simple platform game. Players have to navigate a series of outlandish puzzles while pursuing their future selves, who has been ensnared by some outrageous creature. The playful, ridiculous nature of the game is it greatest feature. It’s over the top plot line and comedy that embedded in everything from the dialogue to the menu itself.
It’s obviously lovingly inspired by the work of The Behemoth (the creators of Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theatre), from the familiar, colourful cartoonish ascetic. The bizarre comedy also feels like an homage, with crazy dialogue that undercuts the ridiculous situation. Its refreshing in a world full of gritty games to get exposure to something truly unique, and weird.
What staggers No Time to Explains voyage into the unusual, is the controls. To overcome the spikes and other obsoletes your character has been gifted a laser cannon. It fires a continuous stream of energy that propels your confused avatar around the map, sometimes. The annoyance is that there is some governing rule to how to control yourself, but it’s never fully explained; which I suppose is in keeping with the title.
Although the laser can be used as a jetpack-equse booster, it won’t push you up for long. The issue is that the game seemingly changes how long you’ll stay up for, and the distance you can cover in that time. It’s good that No Time to Explain does try something different, and it’s both fun and funny to watch the character fly across the screen in a blaze of blue light. But when something doesn’t click the first time, but trying it again is successful, it’s a little irritating.
Luckily, not all the levels will be done with this slightly obtuse mode of transportation. Other levels are done with a grenade launcher. Actually its quite impressive just how diverse some the levels can be. Whether you’re launching yourself forward with the power of explosives, or flying across a vast cartoonish cityscape atop a future you, wearing a jetpack, this game will constantly turn itself inside out finding new ideas. Boss fights actually require you to think about your position more than most other games as your weapon will be flinging you across the arena while maiming your enemy.
That doesn’t make it a particularly difficult game however. While annoying in certain sections, almost every level, boss and challenge is relatively straight forward. It mostly boils down to, after the initial tutorial levels, spotting the safe spots between the death traps. Although the strung together narrative might suggest a certain urgency, there is no time limit in the game, and you can approach each level as slowly as you’d like.
This, which is another factor never explained in No Time to Explain, does take out the testing nature of the game. When the hardest part is finding out exactly where you’re meant to be going, and which footfalls to make, having as much breathing room as you’d like is all you need.
If you would like to make it harder for yourself, the best method is to collect the hats scattered throughout the levels. These often involve killing your character, or escaping the screen to acquire. Most are hidden around what looks like an impassable wall or structure, or down a vast pit. These hats allow you to customise your character is a series of eccentric fashions. This can be anything from a top hat to a picture of a fox.
The easyish structure of the game, filled with changes in gameplay that keep you occupied is a good way of losing a few hours. Its shame that Microsoft couldn’t have pulled something a little more experimental, or thought-provoking out of their hat of indie titles. It is something they could have done. Instead we have a port of a game, with slightly awkward controls, and a decent sense of humour. No Time to Explain is by no means a bad game, but it’s far from the best platformer on the system, or the funniest. Instead it sits in this awkward space of being ‘good enough’. If you’re after a platformer on your Xbox One, and have burned through the likes of Ori and the Blind Forest, then by all means play No Time to Explain. Just don’t expect the Earth to move with this one.
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