Metroidvania / PC / PS4 / Vita

Timespinner – Symphony of the Alright

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If you’ve never heard of indie games and really like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, then boy have I got something for you.

Let’s be honest: There might be a few too many devs releasing 2D platformers with pixel art. That’s just a fact of life. Are some of them uninspired? Sure. Is Timespinner the best one? Nope, but I sure had a pleasant weekend with it.

Timespinner is the closest game to Castlevania’s opus since the incredible Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow back in 2003. That doesn’t mean it’s as good, but it suuuuure feels like either one of those games, and you might even confuse it with one of them if you squint hard enough. You run back and forth between a 2D map filled with monsters and upgrades and ledges just a bit higher than your jump and then double jumps. You know exactly what you’re getting here. Oh, also you can stop time but it’s almost useless and comes into play like three times in the whole game.

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The best part of Timespinner is its weapon system. Instead of swords and bows, you’re armed with orbs imbued with magic spells, and then you get even cooler spells from there. In my roughly 6 hours it took me to 100% the game and see all of its endings, I ended up with a good dozen or so different spells, and very few of them were useless or not worth seeing. You’ll start off with a basic projectile, then some swords, then lightning powers, and so on. Maybe only twice did I not at least enjoy experimenting with each ability as I found it, as they all offer some unique functionality or are just plain fun to use. For every orb also comes its equivalent super attack that uses mana, and those’re super neat as well. Once you get the gigantic sword slice ability that wipes anything off the screen, you’ll only feel more and more powerful from there.

Timespinner is a Metroidvania-lite if there ever was one. There’s a lot of stuff that’s worth seeing, but it all feels a bit too slight. One of my biggest issues is how samey and forgettable a bunch of the areas are, and that you’ll even begin to notice identical level layouts by the end. I closed in on the end-game and was waiting for the big reveal, SotN style, that maybe I was only seeing the first half before some big twist. And then I watched the credits.

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None of this is to say Timespinner is a bad game. It’s not at all. I recommend playing it if you want to see a handful of new tricks that I somehow hadn’t seen in this well worn territory. Pay your 20 bucks, have a solid 5 or 6 hours with it, and then go play Hollow Knight and wonder if the genre can ever recover from being so soundly put to bed.

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