by February 1, 2022 @ 9:15 am
Reviewed on Switch
A good puzzle game is one that gives you a good mental workout without frustrating you. Yes, these games can be difficult, and they should challenge you to peel away at their layers in order to solve each of their brain teasers. The moment frustration comes in due to vague solutions or poor mechanics, however, the puzzle game faces a fatal flaw. Timelie from Urnique Studio is, thankfully, the former, as it takes you on a challenging and rewarding ride without ever punishing you.
Bend Time and Hang Out with a Cat
Timelie places you in small but complex rooms filled with multiple challenges to overcome. You’ll have to navigate tight spaces all the while avoiding enemies, adding a stealth element to the game for extra difficulty. It’s one thing to have that lightbulb-over-your-head moment when you figure out the solution to a problem, but it’s a whole different story when you’re trying to avoid being spotted by hostile enemies while trying to reach the end of a level.
The first chapter teaches you the basics of Timelie and isn’t exactly exciting, even if it is necessary. The subsequent stages, though, constantly change things up and keep the flow interesting by adding more enemies and making level navigation trickier.
Eventually, you’ll control a cat companion. This furry critter has some special abilities, such as a meow that can distract enemies, allowing you to move the protagonist to another area undetected. Of course, while you’re doing this, you also have to make sure our feline companion isn’t caught by those same enemies. You’ll have to guide the cat to a vent or to a room with a door that the main character can close remotely.
You’ll encounter areas that don’t allow you to pass — maybe there’s a huge hole in the ground or a broken bridge standing between you and the exit. These obstacles require you to find small light orbs in the level that then allow you to repair damaged areas.
You’re not just stealthily moving around levels, repairing broken floors, and finding exits with your cat pal in Timelie, though. You’re also battling against a time limit of sorts. Everything you do moves a progress bar at the bottom of the screen, regardless of whether you’re making real progress or not. So whether you successfully solve a puzzle or just waste time moving back and forth, the bar will slowly move from left to right. If it reaches the end, you’ll no longer be able to progress.
Thankfully, Timelie allows you to rewind and fast-forward time. This comes in super handy when you get caught by enemies, as well as when you’ve expended all of your moves. Maybe you just need to make a minor adjustment to how you solved a certain puzzle, or perhaps you need to be smarter about sneaking around a wall to avoid an enemy while not wasting too much time.
Even though you have to watch how much time you spend solving any given level, the fact that you can rewind and fast-forward time makes Timelie an oddly relaxing puzzler. It can be tough at times, yes, but it’s also very welcoming and encourages you to just play around its levels and figure things out at your leisure. It’s quite gratifying, actually.
Take Your Time
Though Timelie could take you about five hours to play through, I find that this is a game best played if you want some downtime. Yeah, you can finish it in one sitting if you so choose, but paired with a cup of coffee or tea and your favorite chair, it makes for a nice mental break from the outside world for an hour or two at a time.
Visually, Timelie is super easy on the eyes, adding to its inviting appeal. The pastel purples and pinks are soft and contrast the game’s challenge and aggressive enemies quite nicely. The sounds are also pretty calming, with soft beats playing on as you clear the levels and figure things out at a relaxed pace.
There’s plenty of enjoyment to be had with Timelie. It’s fun, and it does a good job of giving you something to focus on with its engaging puzzle work. It’s charming and serene, and it’s a great fit on Nintendo Switch, where you can just sit back and enjoy the ride in handheld mode or on the Switch Lite. It’s worth it for any fan of puzzlers, or really anyone who needs to check out of the real world and spend time in a lovely little world solving brain teasers with a cat.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
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