Review: Timen runner

Store page / View this review on Steam

Review copy provided by developer via Curator Connect

I’ve never given much thought to the deeper designs of endless runners, but I’m starting to get the impression that they’re pretty important. After all, there’s a key balance to be struck between how difficult the running is and how easily you can unlock new forms of progress. I was obsessed with Jetpack Joyride for months because it struck a near-perfect balance here. But on the other end of the spectrum you get attempts like Timen runner, a game with both frustrating gameplay and very little of note to get for it. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too.

timen1

You play as some sort of clockwork android named Timen who, predictably, runs. He’s trapped in some kind of mechanical hell dimension of spinning clocks and bottomless pits. I’m getting all this from the store page, by the way, because the only lore you get in the game are the names of levels. There are six of them, themed around clocks or factories or garbage, in which you run ever rightward and jump to survive. Later levels allow Timen to double jump or swim, but just like traditional runners this is a one-button affair.

Each stage only gives you a single minute to run, but collecting five themed doodads will grant you an extra thirty seconds. Because the levels are randomly generated, though, you’re not actually guaranteed to find all five doodads before time runs out. That means no matter how good you are at the game, it might just decide your run is over through random chance. It’s not that big a deal though, because Timen’s world is hilariously lethal. There are plenty of pits and spikes to murder you but hitting a wall, ledge, or any other vertical impediment kills you instantly. You don’t even get any wiggle room on this, just scraping the edge of a platform can end your miserable existence.

timen3

The only other thing to find in levels are clock keys, used to unlock later levels. You can pick up enough even on short runs to have the entire game unlocked in less than an hour, at which point you’re just left chasing high scores. And really, why in God’s name would you do that? What honor is there in being a Timen master, expert at dodging murder-walls and lucking into time-extending items? I don’t have the patience for most score attack games and one that looks like it was composed in MSPaint is not going to capture my attention now. I can’t even give Timen the benefit of being a competent runner because it fouls up basic concerns about challenge and playability, so definitely don’t bother with this one and stick to Canabalt or Race the Sun or literally anything else.

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