I didn’t want to finish the side-scrolling platformer No Time To Explain. But I did, because reader, despite whatever sticky and possibly illegal things you’ve done in various bedrooms and alleyways, I still care for you. And nobody should have to endure the embarrassing experience of paying for this game.
To its credit, No Time To Explain opens strong, with the protagonist dancing in front of his television and Kinect, when suddenly his living room wall explodes and there appears his future self dressed in a red jumpsuit, wielding a futuristic rifle. “I’m you from the future,” he exclaims. “There’s no time to explain. Follow me—” Just as he’s about to lead you out of the house, a massive crustacean claw appears and pulls the time traveler off-screen like a giant vaudeville hook.
You take up his weapon, which functions dually as a beam cannon and jet pack, and pursue your captured future self.
Too bad everything falls apart the moment you get to use the weapon, as it’s immediately apparent how atrocious the controls are. You must use your cannon to reach ledges and mounds in order to proceed through the stage. However, the simple act of controlling the beam cannon is a nightmare. You aim the gun with a cursor controlled by your mouse, fire it with the mouse button and navigate with the WASD keys. This should be a simple setup, but it’s not. The beam is ridiculously finicky and imprecise, just as likely to send you soaring into oblivion as it is to get you nowhere. You’ll probably have to try four or five times just to ascend a hill in order to reach the level’s end portal, which transports you to the next stage.
Things get much worse when strategically placed traps like spike pits and acid baths start showing up in later stages. You have to aim your shots so that you get the necessary trajectories to overcome obstacles. The imprecision of the cannon makes this much more difficult than it needs to be, guaranteeing that you’ll die several times before nailing the right angle. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the majority of the game wasn’t just one section after another that forces you try over and over again until you get that perfect shot, meaning there’s really no strategy at all to most of No Time To Explain‘s except mindless repetition.
Clearing a section won’t make you feel like you’ve accomplished anything either, since there’s no skill involved and another poorly designed puzzle section is usually dead ahead. There’s certainly lot of variety in the level design and sometimes you’ll get a new gameplay element thrown your way, like when the Candyland-esque stage forces you to eat cake so that you gain enough girth to break down stone walls separating you from the level’s portal. But it all still boils down to getting the right trajectory which is always a chore.
To put it bluntly: when the game isn’t frustrating, it’s boring or, in some instances, broken. There are a handful of possibly fun minigame sections placed here and there in order to break up the tedium of each level, but two of them lagged to the point that it brought the game’s animation to a dead crawl, severely hampering any entertainment value. There are some boss fights as well, but they’re even more abysmally designed than the rest of the game. For example, the second boss encounter in the game is with a giant mole armed with laser eyes and limbs made of drills. The pattern to beating him is simple:
Step 1: Shoot his belly
Step 2: When his eyes light up and fire a laser beam at you, you fire yours and connect the beams, damaging him and initiating the second half of the stage, which causes fire pits to erupt on both sides of you, leaving two safe platforms for you to use.
Step 3: The mole leaps from platform to platform, attempting to knock you into the fire pit. Use you beam to dodge him. Shoot his belly when you can.
Step 4: When enough damage is done, he’ll fire his eyebeams again. Connect your beam with them.
This fight, which should take five minutes at the most, took me at least half an hour—not because I hadn’t figured out the strategy to defeat him but thanks instead to various glitches. When the mole fires his eyebeams, you better be lucky enough to be facing his front side, otherwise you miss the opportunity to connect beams and he dives back into the soil…where he stays glitched, forcing a stage restart.
Oh, and whatever you do, DON’T PAUSE during this battle or else this happens when you resume:
I didn’t capture him in motion. He’s just hanging there frozen. And you can’t do any damage to him either—another forced restart. These aren’t little issues; they’re big ones that shouldn’t be here, regardless of whether or not this is an indie game. They’re all over the place too. Take this shot for example:
I should be taking damage here because, you know, I’m standing chest deep in a pit of spikes. I’m not. There’s also the fact that my game crashed three times in separate levels.
No Time to Explain has one redeeming factor: its zany sense of humor. You’ll fight flying sharks, moles, alternate versions of you. It’s all over-the-top and will definitely elicit some laughs from even the most humorless prudes. There’s also a bunch of goofy wearable hats/masks/heads to collect that the player can wear, but why anyone would want to spend that much time scavenging in this poorly designed game is beyond me.
The worst part of all of this is that No Time To Explain is a passable flash game the developers want you to pay to play. Now, there’s nothing wrong with selling a flash game—I’ve paid for multiple copies of The Binding of Isaac, after all—but it better be fun and not so damn glitchy. Ten dollars is the price for No Time to Explain and frankly it doesn’t come close to being worth that, especially when you have other vastly superior indie games like FTL, Lone Survivor, and Hotline Miami for that same price on the market.
- Reviewed On