Also available on PlayStation Vita, Linux, OSX, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 5/16/2019 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Timespinner is a game I’ve had a handful of friends urging me to play for a good while. I’m normally not the biggest fan of Metroidvania style games, but I have to admit, this one is truly fantastic. I’ve never had a problem with Metroidvania games, but as a style, it just doesn’t usually do it for me. Timespinner, however, is just a brilliant game from start to finish.
You play as this top-tier waifu chick with blue hair name Lunais who’s part of a clan that guards a chronomantic relic called the Timespinner. This clan trains people called Time Messengers whose job is to use the Timespinner to travel to the past to warn the clan about some catastrophe so that they might avoid it. As tensions with a stellar empire attempting to colonize their planet further deteriorate, these Time Messengers have become more and more important, and at the game’s start, your character is officially named the newest Time Messenger. Then plot progression happens, and you set off on a quest to kill the emperor all by yourself to avenge your slain clan.
Timespinner is actually set over two time periods. It takes places in the same area but partly around the same time as the prologue and partly a millennium in the past. Once you reach a certain point in the game, you travel between the two time periods from portals scattered throughout the world. During your adventure, you’re armed with two weapons, a pair of close-range orbs for bashing enemies and a magic attack based on your orb for foes at longer range. As you explore, you help a stranded raiding party trapped behind enemy lines 1000 years in the past as well as a library in the imperial capital in the present as you investigate what happened in the past and what changed in the present as a result of your actions in the past.
Mechanically, the game is superb. The controls, both for movement and attack, feel crisp at responsive at all times. The platforming is sublime with only one instance I found to be more annoying than fun. There are numerous orbs that can be collected for use in combat, and each of those orbs can be upgraded to improve their combat ability, crafted into rings for passive benefits, or crafted into necklaces to unlock new magical attacks. The variety of loadout options, as well as the relatively short playthrough time and multiple endings in the game, create a good bit of replay value. If you find the game too easy, there’s a hard difficulty, and if you’re fond of speedruns, there’s a speedrun mode so you can try to beat your best time. All things said, there’s pretty much something for everyone here.
Timespinner is a fantastic game with a compelling narrative, a beautifully crafted world, and addicting gameplay. The story, revolving mainly around imperialism and the moral ambiguity of independence movements and despotism, is somewhat slow to get going, but once the world building starts to unfold, it’s an intriguing plot. The game’s cast of characters are wonderfully diverse, but unlike most games, they don’t really make a big deal of it. Some characters are gay, and you just find that out in passing dialogue. They’re not like J.K. Rowling on Twitter going “HEY GUYS, DID YOU KNOW THAT THIS CHARACTER IS GAY?!?” They do the same with an asexual character, a transgender character, etc. With the importance of representation in games so paramount as time goes on, that kind of thing gets some major props from me even though I’m a white cisgender straight male, the most over-represented demographic there is in gaming. Long story short, this is one of those games that comes along once every few years that really does stand out as something special, and y’all are doing yourselves a major disservice by skipping out on it.