Most video games are either two-dimensional or three-dimensional. Most…but not Everyone. Today we celebrate the games that dip their toes into the underrated and underexplored fourth Dimensions: time.
Unfortunately for us 3D farmers, we’re forced to experience time linearly, Tuesday through Wednesday like utter plebs, unable to revisit the previous Monday’s salad days and make sure we didn’t make that horrible joke at the dining table, or spill spaghetti sauce over our beautiful new sweater. But hey! At least we play video games, a medium where nothing is set in stone and everything is storable – and the time loop subgenre exists as a narrative framing device. Hooray!
Well, a bad time warp game – coughing TwelveMinutescough – forces the player through lengthy repetition and amazingly specific branching to change the past/present/future, but a Well The time warp game always keeps you moving forward, constantly rotating and tweaking the loop to intrigue the player and throw unanswered questions in his questioning face. These are the games we’ve included in this list – the ones that delight, surprise, shock and are generally more twisted than headphone cords straight out of the bag.
Before we proceed, please note that this article will – by nature – be a little spoilery. Some games are only revealed as time loops after 20 minutes; others save it for a twist in the third act. So be warned, you cannot go back and read this article unread!
Now let’s get started before we return to the beginning of this article to try again!
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
The prototypical time warp game. Of course it’s here. Majora’s Mask pushes our boy Link in an ever-repeating three-day cycle until he can figure out how to stop the moon from crashing to earth. You’d think that stopping Ganon was the highest-stakes storyline for a Zelda game, but no – this self-contained adventure is one of the darkest and most heartbreaking Zeldas out there.
Publisher: Tequila works / Developer: Cavalier Game Studios
The title of this title might be a little off-putting, but don’t be offended – The Sexy Brutale isn’t as sexy as it sounds. It’s still beautiful, unusual and absolute choca with murders all of which you must solve in (you guessed it) a time warp.
Observation and a strong understanding of the timing patterns at each stage of the game are beneficial to progression. You’ll need to watch characters through keyholes and closet slots, and even figure out their patterns using non-obvious clues, to save everyone from one grisly murder… and unlock the next. Although it’s a bit choppy on Switch, it’s a must-have for time warp fans.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Four quarters
A lot of time loop games are based on narrative – find out why you’re in the time loop in the first place, fix things, repeat – but Loop Hero is also a mechanical loop.
Each time you embark on a new expedition, your hero will appear on a short, freshly generated path that only takes a few minutes to traverse completely. Your hero just moves forward on the loop and automatically fights everything that gets in his way, so it’s up to him she put things in his way that make him stronger. You can make it easy for him if you want, but then he’ll be rendered incorporeal by the boss at the end of the expedition. However, if you make it too difficult, he won’t even make it that far. It’s repetitive, but there’s always a million and one things to juggle.
Publisher: Dear villagers / Developer: Modern storyteller
In Forgotten City, a Skyrim mod-turned full-fledged game, you (a modern human) are teleported back to the year 65 AD, to a small Roman town that is under some sort of curse. And since it’s a video game, you’ll have to fix it.
If someone violates the “Golden Rule”, Everyone in the city is instantly transformed into a golden statue – a fact supported by the golden statues scattered around the houses and streets, and the warnings that they somehow had the time to carve before they transform. However, the locals don’t know exactly what “The Golden Rule” is, so they live in fear, hedging their bets and trying not to commit any sins. But it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks it, accidentally or not.
And since this is a time warp game, your job is to figure out A) what the curse is, B) how to stop breaking it, and C) how to fix everything. Here we go.
Publisher: Devolver Digital / Developer: Devolver Digital
What if Link (from Zelda) was stuck in a time warp? It doesn’t matter that this game already exists, because we’re trying to tell you about Minit, a charming black and white game that takes place in 60-second chunklets.
Minit plays with the time warp concept in an interesting, novel way – like having a character who can give you important information, but who speaks really slow, which occupies the entire 60 seconds — but doesn’t last long enough to exceed his greeting. 60 seconds might not sound like enough, but it’s actually one of Minit’s strongest suits; a rapid-fire, trial-and-error approach to progression. It will take you several tries to realize what each new obstacle you face requires, but the beauty of it is that death hardly feels like punishment because at worst it will only set you back a minute.
Publisher: Atlus / Developer: vanilla goods
The beautiful, dynamic storytelling game 13 Sentinels consists of about ten different genres, all combined in one video game. It’s sci-fi, it’s mech-combat, it’s strategy, it’s a romantic visual novel… and there’s also something time-crazy about it, because why not? Thank goodness for the game’s extensive library of archived information and memories of what the story is about, as it can get difficult to follow – but this incredible ensemble narrative is well worth the effort.
Please note that some external links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small percentage of the sale if you click on them and make a purchase. Please read our FTC disclosure for more information.
Publisher: Finji / Developer: northway games
Your whole life is ahead of you in I Was A Teenage Exocolonist. And behind you Everything you learn on the newly colonized planet of Vertumna will help you navigate both present and future events, make better decisions, and create a better world too. We have criticized the game for not being enough pretty – not enough serious consequences, not enough danger – but its niceness is also exactly why we recommend it. The generosity of the game and story seeps through every pore of Exocolonist. If this world stimulates your imagination, you will get unbelievable miles from it.
#time #loop #games #Nintendo #Switch