To paraphrase a famous time traveling British alien, time is not necessarily a linear progression from past to present to future. It just seems like that to those dwelling within its stream, i.e. us. To command and control time isn’t just a matter of manipulating cause and effect, it’s the ability to exist outside of those laws and bend them to your will, even if only on a small level. For those of you out there with the skills to think in four dimensions, you may be interested in trying out Timelie, recently ported to the Nintendo Switch after a very successful run on Steam.
Timelie, and yes that is spelled without an “N” despite what autocorrect keeps telling me, opts for a minimalist story and theming. You play as a girl who awakens in a bizarre, technologically-advanced facility staffed with security robots who would love nothing more than to clock her upside the head.
The girl can’t fight, nor can she run very fast, but she does have one edge over the security: time. Using precognitive abilities, the girl can gaze into the future to see where her foes will go and what they’ll do, then plan around that schedule to escape. Once she’s got a route planned out, it’ll all execute in real time. It’s kind of like Katana Zero, except with less murder.
Not long into the game, the girl befriends a friendly orange cat, who becomes her partner. You can command the girl and the cat separately, having the girl operate panels and machinery and use her time manipulation abilities to restore collapsed floors, while the cat distracts and misleads foes with loud meows and its small, vent-compatible body.
Normally, operating two characters in a strategic fashion like this can be a bit headache-inducing, but thankfully you don’t have to mind both characters simultaneously. You can set one’s actions in motion, then freely move the other to the right spot. Using the track bar at the bottom of the screen, you can quickly scroll through any established point in time, either to speed up patrols or rewind a mistake. It’s also thanks to this feature that game overs, while not impossible, can be quickly remedied and tweaked with a little rewinding action.
As far as time-centric puzzle games go, Timelie hits a good middle point between abstract and accessible. Thinking of the timeline as flexible takes a bit of adjustment, and you need to have a certain degree of problem solving skill, but once you grasp the basic idea, it all falls into place fairly easily. So if you’re looking for a time-bending puzzle stealth game, you definitely can’t go wrong with Timelie.
9 / 10