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Time Loader Review: Jump, Climb, Ruin Time, Repeat | Screen Rant

As far as sci-fi premises go, time travel is a classic cautionary tale. These stories are filled with people, willingly or not, messing with the carefully laid out plans of fate only for it to go horribly wrong for them. Time Loader, a puzzle-platformer made by indie studio Flazm and published by META Publishing, is the latest video game addition to this storied tradition, and it brings a few of its own unique twists to the table.

The story of Time Loader follows the exploits of a tiny robot who gets sent back in time to prevent the childhood accident that caused its creator to become permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The player controls the automaton as it journeys through the house where the incident occurred on its quest to change everything, but they are not alone. An onboard AI helps out by giving the player their objectives, as well as some context to certain items that the pair come across on their journey. As is to be expected, the chain of cause-and-effect is not so easily broken, and so the narrative takes many twists and turns as the consequences of the player’s actions are dealt with.

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Being a puzzle-platformer, the main gameplay elements for Time Loader are traversing the various areas of the house that the game takes place in, as well as solving various puzzles. Due to being such a small robot, the level set pieces and ways to get around or through them are unique. The game enjoys reminding the player just how vulnerable something the size of a toy car is to a housecat, or just how insurmountable an obstacle a coffee thermos is. The combination of these less-than-standard impediments, alongside a four-wheel drive buggy, create the need for some interesting traversal methods, such as driving straight up a vertical surface or using the articulated arm to swing around like Tarzan. While the movement is fairly fluid, the jumping can be a little dodgy. Sometimes when attempting a jump, the cart will barely lift itself off the ground while at others it will be perfectly fine.

The game’s puzzles vary in complexity, but as the story goes on, they trend towards becoming more challenging. Most of them tend to be some form of creating a path for the loader to get through, but the method for doing so does vary significantly. Unfortunately, this isn’t to say that any of them were particularly difficult as, for the majority of the time, it always felt like regardless of what was being done, it was always the right move to make. This particular issue also ended up compounding another: Time Loader's particularly short length, as the game took less than 5 hours to beat.

For the majority of the playthrough, Time Loader ran without issue, but on a couple of occasions there were some concerns with the game soft-locking progression. One instance saw movement of a physics object causing it to overshoot its intended target position with no way to fix it, and another where an objective glitched and was simultaneously considered completed and not completed without any player input. Fortunately, both of these instances were able to be dealt with by restarting from the game’s previous checkpoint, but this did result in some small and frustrating progress loss.

Despite a few shortcomings, over the course of a playthrough, Time Loader proves itself to be a game worth trying out for those interested in its concept. The story is smart and, in true time travel fashion, has multiple ways in which it can come to a close. All of this is presented alongside a solid gameplay core which makes for a fun, if short, jaunt through a sci-fi tale.

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Time Loader releases today, November 3rd, 2021, for PC. Screen Rant was provided a Steam code for the purposes of this review.

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