Project Temporality, the recent title by Defrost Games, thrusts players into a time-bending, puzzle solving romp that feels reminiscent of Portal in some ways. It is a game with some unique mechanics and a solid approach to puzzle solving, and quite possibly one of the more unique ways I have seen time-bending used in a game. It also has a unique take on the growing trend of single-person mutliplayer previously seen in Super Time Force, however in this game you need to solve puzzles that require more than one person.
Players take control of Subject 87, one of the last remaining – or as it at least seems – test subjects that inhabit the grand space station overseen by Admiral Melville. Admiral Melville has gone a bit crazy while in his constant pursuit to find a subject that lives up to his standards. Things seem a bit odd around the space station as well. No one else, other than Subject 87 seems to be present, there is damage in locations, blood spatters about the floor, and the further you progress, the crazier Melville becomes.
It is a story that is hard to deny the familiarity of, and sadly most of the times it feels a bit forced and as if it were trying too hard to be Portal. Admiral Melville is a charmless version of GLaDOS, and Subject 87 feels to not be apart of the story. Ever quiet, always doing as told, and never feeling as though it is a true factor in any of it. Sadly, things often feel forced on the story side of things.
It isn’t the story of the game that is going to continuously push you forward though, not at all. Project Temporality’s best feature – and main reason to jump in and enjoy – is its puzzle solving. Which is one that can, at times, put a bit of a strain on the brain as you bend time and create clones of yourself. It is neat how this feature works: Run to a switch and step upon it, reverse time back to the point you want, create a clone, and that clone will reenact your past movements. This makes it possible to solve puzzles that require more than one person.
Puzzles in Project Temporality are very engaging and thought provoking, as you must know the location of everything at nearly all times. Past, present, and future are all factors that must be taken into account when attempting to overcome obstacles that lie before you. There are some unique ways this is utilized within the game. Always staying one step ahead and remembering when and where your clones are is very important. Too early and you may be knocked into a hole, or too late and the platform leaves you behind.
The only downfall in the puzzle solving department is that the majority of them require the pressing of a large, glowing button. Every stage – 14 in total – pretty much requires you to set up a clone to step on a big, button. While this doesn’t deter from the fun and excitement that comes with the bending of time and clone utilization, it was something that felt relied upon a bit too heavily.
Project Temporality has a pretty complex sounding method of solving puzzles, and at times it can feel that way, but one thing that never feels complex and confusing are the controls. They are simple and effective. The mouse controls the camera, entering and exiting time-bending, and clone creation, and the WASD keys handle the movement of Subject 87. These commands are simple, responsive, and never separate the player from the action by causing them to stop and think about what button does what.
Defrost Games have crafted a good looking game, albeit one with some repetitive scenery, but the overall look does come off as polished. Project Temporality ran smooth for me, and I would say that I only experienced frame-rate problems a total of three times during my 14 hour journey. Other than those few times, the game ran with no hiccups, as I scratched my brain over the situations I found myself in. The audio in the game is very sparse, as there is no voice acting, which I feel is fine seeing as the cast is not large in the slightest. However, the music that accompanies the stages does become a bit tiring, especially upon stages that you will spend some time within.
Project Temporality is a strange beast. In its gameplay department it feels that is holds its own, and defines itself from other titles. Then, however, as you progress through the story, you can’t help but feel that it is trying to be Portal. Just without all of the charm and humor that was found within that title. The game does shine with its puzzle solving, though it feels to rely a bit much on buttons. There is a lot of potential tucked away in this title, and I hope to see it expanded upon, be it with updates or another entry, as Project Temporality has some very unique concepts about it. It is an enjoyable experience, but at the same time it does feel as if its true potential has yet to be tapped into.
Project Temporality is available on Steam for $14.99, as well as Desura. Be sure to check out Defrost Games’ official site, and give there Twitter a follow to stay update on anything they may be working.