If you could go back in time and stop a specific incident, like an accident, that changed your life forever, would you? It’s okay, you don’t have to answer right now. It’s a tough question. Just keep it in mind as you read; I promise I’m asking for a reason.
Time Loader is a physics-based puzzle platformer centered around Adam, a man who creates a robot he can send back in time to prevent an accident that left him wheelchair bound. You play as said robot, rolling through Adam’s childhood home to figure out how to stop the accident from ever occuring. Be warned, however, that for every change, there is a consequence. Will you change things for the better? Or will you only make things worse?
Gameplay is mostly centered on finding your way through the home, gathering the items you need, and completing your given tasks. To do these things, you have to use the environment to your advantage. Your mechanical arm can grab cords and other hanging items to swing across platforms. You’ll push and pull items to clear your path or help you get to higher places. Sometimes, you’ll need to toss items to make things go or create something to swing from.
You get the picture; everything around you is a tool to get you deeper into the home. You just have to figure out how to use them.
In your travels, you’ll find a number of items you can pick up that will enhance your abilities, such as springs, soldering irons, and screwdrivers. These will allow you to interact with objects like computers and fuse boxes and help you gather information about Adam and the changing timelines. You’ll also find items like VHS tapes, journals, and soap (yes, really,) that will help you gather secret symbols. What do they do? Well, I’ll let you find that out for yourself.
That being said, backtracking is a big part of the game in certain areas. You may need to go to the end of a room to find a way to circle back to the beginning and get a certain object you couldn’t reach before. Sometimes you have to return to a room much later because the layout has changed and there’s something new to be discovered. Because of the way Time Loader is set up, this isn’t as tedious as it might seem. The rooms are full of neat details, and with every return, the the landscapes change a little and new tasks become available.
One of the cleverest things about Time Loader is its narrative. Remember the question I asked at the beginning of this review? Adam wants more than anything to prevent the injury that changed the course of his life, and the driving force for inventing his time machine and exploration robot. However, it’s clear throughout the adventure his actions have unforeseen consequences, and with each change you make, those consequences come into play.
Such is the case for most time travel storylines. But Time Loader’s implementation of this chain reaction is incredibly realistic. For example, when you get rid of the cat, rats that would’ve been eliminated multiply and chew through electrical wires and cause a fire. Everything has a plausible consequence that leads to an outcome that requires you to keep searching for answers and solutions.
A fun and nostalgic journey full of twists and turns, Time Loader aks the question if the past can ever truly be changed, and should it. The puzzles are challenging and require looking at common objects with a new perspective to help you along, and the game does a fantastic job of making backtracking fun by changing the layout of the rooms in each act of the story. Plus, it’s a refreshing twist on the typical time travel plotline with its use of a simplistic robot traveler and its interesting chain of events. If you’re into all things wibbly-wobbly and timey-wimey, this may be just the blast to the past for you.