Monday, 01 August 2016 00:00

The Temporal Invasion Review

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When I'm given the role of detective in a game, it doesn't mean much.

Mostly because it feels like it's something I've done before. It also has something to do with the fact that the worlds these developers create seem made for this particular reason, and it pulls you out from the gumshoe lifestyle we all wish we lived.

So what happens when you take away the graphics and the need to show us as a human character? What if we become the characters we know we are?

The Temporal Invasion strips away the character models and puts you, the player and experienced Internet sleuth, in front of a pile of paperwork and a computer screen.

Already, just like that, I feel like I'm a part of this world.

The game gives us relatively simple mechanics that does not take long for you to understand since it is just a matter of reading some letters, using the internet, emailing, and using intensely simplified image manipulation programs - things we have all used at least once in our lifetimes.

There is a slew of conspiracies in the game that range from JFK assassinations to Area 51. It seems that they grabbed all the conspiracies out there and just crammed them all into a super-conspiracy. Which is quite alright with me.

Each level, around 50 in total, presents you with a letter from a man named Dr. Quantum. Each letter goes on to tell you a piece of the overarching story while also providing you a clue with how to advance. Each puzzle varies in its own way by giving you different sleuthing avenues to explore. Some require image manipulation which allows you to see hidden messages in given pictures, where some involve researching a name or place using any external browser to Google something.

Being such a huge fan of real life Escape Rooms, this is the closest thing to one of those without being one of the pixel hunting variety found on Flash sites and mobile devices. The sense of discovery truly pushes you through the game’s campaign even if you get caught up on some of the game’s tougher puzzles. At the start, the puzzles were certainly on the easier side, but the difficulty ramps up rather well in time.

When I first learned of the game, I knew it would be something that I would enjoy playing. Not only that, but I knew it'd be something that my wife would love as well. Being big crime fans, we are attracted to solving puzzles using our minds. The Temporal Invasion required me to grab a real pen and notepad to jot down clues to progress a game. Any game that does this gives off such an incredible feeling. Seeing notes in real life like that certainly adds to the immersion aspect. It's especially true when I have to hide those notes so my wife doesn't see them when she plays the game.

As mentioned, I do feel this game has a real sense of immersion that helps sell the game. However, here are a few things that help break that illusion.

For one, some of the grammar is not quite perfect. But that's okay because, oddly enough it does add a certain sense of hyperrealism because, hey, who hasn't misspelled something once or twice? And if you're on the run from people who are out to get you for knowing bits of their conspiracy, you have every right to miss a few words here and there? That being said, the developers Hybriona Labs are showing that they care a lot about their baby as they are going through and revising a lot of the text as much as they can to make sure it sounds perfect.

Many of the interface quirks can become a little tedious at times as well, like the sliders and buttons not nearly as responsive as I’d like. But one of my biggest gripes is in the email. Email is one of the largest components to The Temporal Invasion since you rely on it to keep in contact with Dr. Quantum. After each puzzle, you have to send the answer to the mysterious Doctor, and then they respond back letting you know if the answer is correct or not. In doing this, you actually have to wait a semi-annoying amount of time that. Not sure if this is intended to show that it does indeed take time to respond to emails in life (blasted realism!), but the 10-15 second wait can be inconvenient if you need to attempt the same puzzle answer a few times. As I write this, I realize how it's not a big deal so take that for what you will; it's just something that you will notice during the game.

One of my favorite bits of the game is how much the developers seem to put into it.

It's one of those rare, delightful moments where you can see that a small company (only two people) wants to make a fun game. Nothing demonstrates this clearer than the fact that the game is only $3.99 - a price that seems far too good to be true but is. That just solidifies my theory that they just want to get a fun experience into as many hands as they can.

The Temporal Invasion is a sound basis for something potentially much bigger - adding new puzzles, stories, and conspiracies can be done easily if the developers want. There's a lot of good concepts in the game, even if some of the puzzles feel like they're retreading on familiar puzzles. Even still, the time I had with The Temporal Invasion is a rewarding one for sure.


The Verdict

It's simplistic design lends to a thoughtful experience with some rough edges and fun Escape Room qualities. At its modestly low price point of only $3.99, you honestly have very little to lose. Grab it and have some fun. Dr. Quantum needs your help!

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James McKeever

When not playing video games, James is usually found playing video games. When he simply does not have time for video games, he goes to a thing called "Job" where he makes money to feed himself and his wife and to buy more video games. Since he was too scared to use the controller himself at the young age of 3, James started his gaming career as a "navigator" of sorts instructing his father when to jump in Super Mario Brothers. Since then, the fear of controllers has subsided and James can now jump freely, circumventing the middleman.