The Moneyless Gamer 001: TIME FCUK

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be a long running series. Welcome, my socialist brothers to: THE MONEYLESS GAMER. A discussion of the best of the week’s free stuff available online.

So, having established that note of optimism, let’s launch into our first installment with a game of fear, dread and just utter confused terror. Naughty-word-game maker Edmund McMillen’s new one (with William Good), Time Fcuk. Ostensibly, it’s a 2D puzzle platformer using time manipulation mechanics. Sound familiar?

or is it Time Kucf? Or Time Fukc?

Well, Time Fcuk (or Ufck or Kcuf, as the ever-scrambling title screen will tell you) takes the baffling ‘what’s it all about?’ sensation I think Braid gave most of us and runs with it. Into a deep black hole. You’re dumped into a labyrinth of single-room puzzles with little explanation, and strange philosophical justifications/explanations of its peculiar mechanics.

“You can’t grow as a person if you don’t accept that your reality doesn’t apply to others. By changing dimensions you can view life from a new perspective” is the tutorial to explain the dimension-jumping ability of your character. In practice, this means that each level is made up of two (somewhat transparent) layers, which you can switch between by pressing the A button.

This information is delivered to you by a talking head embedded at the side of your screen, that claims to be you from the future or past. It says some quite terrifying things, and makes a painful noise (a sort of garbled rendering of the actual words) every time it speaks. Coupled with Justin Karpel’s soundtrack, a mixture of submarine-radar bleeps, sinister gypsy-ish music rendered through staticky 8-bit speakers and the occasional half-coherent word, the aural experience of the game is punishing.TimeF3

Time Fcuk is very definitely an experience: its visual design, sounds and gameplay are unlike anything else you’re likely to play. It takes the head-against-wall element of trying to grasp at the logic of a puzzle game and makes its key motif. Where Braid used this brain-crunching confusion to hint at a higher meaning, here it is transformed into a masochistic and – not unlike, say, the game version of certain Nine Inch Nails songs.

It is evoking an emotion, or at least a feeling, rather than any deeper meaning, I suspect. “Is there something to this or is it just weird for weird’s sake?” asks your enigmatic guide at one point. The truth lies somewhere in between, I suspect. Time Fcuk works to give you that confused, rug-pulled-from-under-your-mind feeling; an S&M Lost Moment stretched out into a full hour.

I realise I am, perhaps, not making it sound great fun. It’s no lunch-time boredom-killer, for sure. But at its best, Time Fcuk is very satisfying, regularly delivering those air-punching moment of solution the genre thrives on. It’s beautiful, in its way, too.TimeF1In ways, I admit, it’s broken: more than once I failed a puzzle for pressing ‘shift time zone’ rather than ‘jump’, the button layout (built around the A, S and D buttons) is very confusing. And a couple of levels are grindy- beware of xSplinterx. But the game gives you two ‘sleeps’, permission to skip two levels of your choice (I heartily recommend saving one for the aforementioned level), so the masochism isn’t complete.

Still, not for the faint-hearted. But if you’re looking for a consuming mind fcuk, you won’t find better.

Especially not for free. So play it! So has spoken…The Moneyless Gamer!

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  1. Why? People keep telling you they’re “addictive? xD But seriously, some of the best moments in my entire gaming experience are in Free to Play MMO’s. Not to mention that, if you learn to grind, there’s practically no game that can bore you. xD

  2. I played this after reading this article, but only very briefly. The game’s a lot of fun, though, and considering my current lack of funds, I will undoubtedly return to it…like right now. =P

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