We wrote about Time Rifters back in June when the game was still in development. Now, the kind folk at Proton Studio have sent us a sneak peak at the full game which they have also announced will be released on 21st October 2014 for both Windows and OS X. Priced at $9.99 (about £6.20 at the time of writing) it’s available from the Steam Store Page.
Weighing in at 704MB, the steam install was nice and quick. Upon launching the game, you’re immediately greeted with a selection box to start the game on the Oculus Rift or on your monitor. Choosing Oculus Rift mode (FTW), I clicked start. With my DK2 setup in ‘direct mode’ I was pleasantly surprised to find the game loaded directly on to the Rift, leaving my primary display at the desktop (alas, no screen mirroring mode is available currently).
I was now in the familiar interactive ‘menu’ room. This consists of a slightly surreal free roaming arena, encompassing a water feature with the Time Rifters logo in the centre, Proton Studio’s logo under the water and ‘options’ and ‘play’ buttons hovering either side of the pool. Looking up there is a fractured tower block thing going on and the sense of depth is quite striking. The HUD is a translucent holographic screen that extends beyond your field of view on both the left and right-hand side. Turning your head allows you to see your framerate, amount of gold collected, number of cubes missed and time remaining. The HUD is also dynamic and features occasional pop ups such as the music playlist and stats at the end of each level. It’s a really well designed feature and the depth perception afforded by the DK2 makes it feel like you’re wearing Ironman’s mask.
Walking into the floating options icon brings up a variety of menus in the form of floating semi-transparent panels with buttons and options to tweak the game’s graphics, input controls and calibrate DK2 specific settings such as low persistence and FOV size. A quick peak down to the lower right hand side of the HUD and I saw that my framerate was dipping slightly below the necessary 75 fps so after a bit of tweaking with anisotropic rendering options and texture quality, I had it running judder free so I headed over to the play button.
I need guns… lots of guns
After selecting the level I wanted to play from a list of 3 episodes (each with 5 levels), I arrived in the staging area. This hasn’t changed much from the demo but there is now a cool weapon selection panel. Starting out with a pistol, you can choose from a rocket launcher, laser, triple laser, flak cannon or a particle ball gun. Each serves a different purpose and comes it’s own upgrades. These are purchased with gold accumulated from destroying cubes in the arenas. I particularly enjoyed the particle ball gun which is a melée weapon. Once I’d upgraded this to deal extra damage, it was just a case of running gung-ho into the cubes wreaking havok.
Once you’ve decided on your arsenal, you head into the arena and the countdown begins. The rounds are usually just a couple of minutes long and you need to destroy as many cubes as possible in that time. Red cubes are the most common and are the weakest. Shooting them sees the fill colour changing like a health bar depleting. Special acid ammo will turn the edges of the cubes green, indicating they have been infected and the health of infected cubes will slowly decline. White cubes are tougher and usually take several hits to knock out. Each destroyed cube leaves some gold which helps improve your loadout in future rounds.
The key to getting as many cubes as possible is strategic planning. You get 4 ‘lives’ for each arena and your every move is recorded. On the next playthrough, you will be accompanied by the recording or ‘time clone’ of yourself so you can concentrate on a different area of the arena, focusing on cubes you missed the last time round.
On a few of the rounds, this is taken to another level by making you use your time clones to unlock areas for your future self by standing on buttons to open up inaccessible areas. This is definitely one of my favourite aspects of the game and I wish they were more of these lateral thinking puzzles as they add an entirely new dimension to the game.
Final thoughts and verdict
I thoroughly enjoyed Time Rifters. Running the game on the DK2 just works which is rare and for 10 bucks, you get a fun shooter with plenty of replayability, offering excellent bang for your bucks. The ‘Let’s Replay’ feature is an asynchronous multi-player game mode that allows you to play alongside a recording of friends, YouTubers, podcasters, etc. You can make a recording of your best score, upload it to the Steam Workshop and challenge your mates to better it. It’s like playing against a ghost in a racing game. Great stuff.