Time manipulation is a great game mechanic as there are so many ways to do it. With Time Master, the idea is to become two versions of yourself to solve various puzzles and reach the exit. It seems so unassuming but it became an engrossing game and one I’d recommend to most puzzle fiends.
Before I begin, I must admit my first impressions of the graphics were “It is a blue Vivi from Final Fantasy IX!”. That never went away and whilst there is a story with voice acting and excellent graphics, I think it clicked with me more as I kept thinking Vivi. That said, whilst the graphics and musical atmosphere quality carry across to the menus and levels themselves, the story doesn’t make up much of your time in the game. Instead, you’ll be thinking about solutions and shortcuts.
Each isometric level requires you to collect every gem in it and then make it to the portal. Levels are designed in a way that makes only some gems accessible at any one time, through collapsible floors, switches, doors, or magical spell induced state changes to the environment. This means you’ll need to play out part of the level, rewind and then play out the second half, with a second copy of yourself collecting the rest. Initially, this is quite simple as it might just be using multiple paths that break as you step on them to cover all the routes where gems are. Very quickly timing and sequencing become the central theme.
It may be copy 1 needs to activate a switch to let copy 2 passed a gate to then shoot an fire spell and break some ice to let copy 1 through a gap and collect a gem. In your head, you’ll be able to line up the sequences but as you are rewinding and redoing, you’ll need to make allowances for the time it takes for your copies to move around. If you don’t leave enough time, the sequence fails. Take too long and you might not make the minimum time limit to unlock the next level. The minimum times are usually quite forgiving but to get 2 or 3 stars per level, you’ll need to be much tighter with your movements and actions. It is here where completionists will spend their time as more stars give more level unlocks but also more story progress too.
Thankfully, Time Master plays really solidly as a platformer to allow you to focus on the timing and sequencing elements. Only on a couple of occasions when I lined up a few jumps on seesaws did I run into some isometric perspective issues. You can rotate levels per 90 degrees which usually solves most of the problems but in the heat of the moment, it is easy to forget.
With a difficulty curve that makes sense and lots of varied puzzle mechanics, I really enjoyed the challenge of Time Master. I think it’s a game that went under the radar when it was released in 2022 and deserves some love for playfully rearranging its time mechanics in interesting ways. Level design switches up often and I was never bored but always challenged. One for the puzzle fiends to enjoy and a word of advice from me. Count your pauses aloud so you don’t move off switches too early!
Clever, detailed and well structured. Time Master is a great time manipulation puzzler that rewards finesse and taking daring shortcuts.
Excellent and varied level design.
Plenty of replayability to try and get as many stars as possible.
Might be very tricky for people who can't perceive time or count aloud/in their head.
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