- Developer/Publisher: Random Seed Games
- Platform: PC
- Review code provided by the publisher.
TIMEframe is a very unique game. A sensory experience that dares to forge ahead into new territory in a mostly saturated market of similar ideas. It takes time to truly understand the value that TIMEframe delivers, but your patience will be rewarded immensely. The world around you is moving in slow motion as it's about to be destroyed. What would you do?
Explore an eternity in TIMEframe
You enter a world that is at once almost completely at a temporal standstill yet tempting you to explore a single small moment stretched to an what feels like an eternity. One in which a mysterious civilization lived, which you must explore to uncover the enigma of this culture.
A distinctly classical guitar strums as you awaken in a temple, a glowing star staring at you, beckoning you to begin your journey. The landscape you see as you step outside is highlighted by the beautiful finger-picked guitar and atmospheric refrain that in the background that paint a wistful picture. It’s really quite beautiful.
Outside the temple is an almost desolate landscape, evocative of the planet Vulcan, empty, barren yet so full of life. Look up at the sky and there’s more than just a bright star greeting you, but also a curious collection of polygons that certainly don’t belong.
You’re here to explore the last seconds of a dying civilization, uncovering artifacts to gain more insight into these people. And you’ll discover something truly spectacular in the end. I haven’t quite made it to the end of the game yet, but we’re promised a fantastic finale. But let's go exploring.
TIMEframe is a walking simulator at its core, one that puts you in a vast open world that you can explore intently within 10 minute time intervals. Despite being a bit slow, the mechanics work really well. Ten minutes are more than enough to go exploring and see the gorgeous countryside. The movements are fluid and the only action you can take is clicking on artifacts once you find them. A circle appears on the screen to let you know that something can be interacted with, and pressing the space-bar will show you what you’ve collected so far on your journey. Each relic you find uncovers a little more about the civilization that once lived here. And the lore is actually quite deep, this isn’t just a collection random named things to find, this is the story of a great people. It’s very well thought out. Most of it seems to be based on either Roman or Greek mythology.
While walking around you'll notice some distinct landmarks that indicate where you should go, because within are the relics you're looking for. They aren't too far apart, and getting there isn't too much an exercise in patience. It all works out very well. Eventually you'll find the last town of this society, and inside are the secrets of their history and perhaps even ways to help prevent the tragedy about to happen.
That collection of pixels in the sky? It turns out that is a very slowly falling collection of meteorites that signify an end of an era. Each time it hits the world is reset and you can begin another 10 minute journey throughout the land. There are a lot of things to see, and you get distracted fairly easily. I found myself simply wandering around aimlessly until the inevitable reset, just enjoying the excellently rendered landscape. During each session, everything seemed new again, as if it were renewed. I had a mission in mind, but that was thrown by the wayside as I just wandered. Staring at the slowly falling meteorites from the sky while listening to the music is harrowing, tragic even.
This game is very simple, yet in that simplicity lies a very remarkable and fun game. It’s graphically impressive in its own way, though it's certainly not GTA V level graphics. The fun really lies in the exploration. The atmosphere that the well-composed music helps captures a desperate loneliness, though it’s also quite relaxing. The soundtrack is amazing, a true work of art and a testament to Clark Aboud’s ability express raw emotion through sound. It’s really that good.
It’s hard to not admire the polish here, regardless of how uncomplicated it is. The direction that Random Seed Games takes is made quite clear, and they deliver on their promises, and they haven't promised any more than what it is. This is casual exploration done right.
The problem is that it obviously won’t appeal to everyone. That and I feel a lot of people won’t give it the chance it deserves, even leveraging Steam’s return policy to at least give it a real try. There’s a masterpiece hidden within. But walking and exploration simulators aren’t attractive to a lot of gamers. But that’s okay, because if it doesn’t sound interesting to you, then it wasn’t made for you anyway.
TIMEframe is exactly what is promised to be, a game of exploration during the last seconds of a civilization. You explore and learn, and it’s actually an incredibly enjoyable experience. If you’re looking to play a casual exploration/walking simulator that has depth and a sense of involvement, then TIMEframe might be for you. It can never be guaranteed that everyone will like everything and especially not this, but the soundtrack alone is almost worth it. I dare you to give it a try.