Time Carnage is penned as a frantic survival shooter for both VR and non-VR platforms, an experience that sends the player through different periods of time as they fight against waves of varying enemies throughout. Sounds decent on paper, right? Sadly, in practice, not so much. Starting up the game will present you with a few modes to dive into; campaign, arcade and challenge. First and foremost, however, you’ll want to tap into the game’s campaign mode to work towards unlocking perks and weaponry for use in the other modes.
The campaign offers a total of four time periods; each encompassing four levels per-whack. Now, I say time period loosely, because in actual fact, there’s not a great deal of distinction between each environment. Instead, the design here all falls inline with themes based on the enemies that you encounter. Tackling dinosaurs? Well, expect nothing more than a few bushes, a canyon and so forth. Fighting futuristic Terminator-like robots? You’ll find yourselves within the midst of a neon, Tokyo-like backdrop. Rinse and of course, repeat.
Each level consists of five waves of enemies. When you’ve cleared every wave, you’re taken back to the main menu to dive into the next wave of foes. Regardless of that, and irrespective as to what mode you take to, you’ll always be confined to a small station that you’re unable to move from. You’re afforded a slight amount of wiggle space from within this station, but no more than roughly one meter in each direction. Your station houses a shield that will absorb any damage taken, and once this is gone, your health is next in line.
The aim of the game is to survive each wave by not allowing any of the enemies to get close enough to your station to cause any damage. This consists of utilizing a wide variation of firepower via dual-wielding first person perspective. Players can take a total of four weapons into the station, and can mix and match what weapons they wield throughout play. The twist, however, is how reloading works. You see, each weapon that you wield cannot be manually reloaded. Instead, weapons with empty clips need to be docked.
This is achieved through the left and right bumpers, which will swap out your in-use weapon for one of the other two weapons in the station. When you dock a weapon, the station will begin replenishing its ammo and will alert you once it’s back to full capacity. That’s pretty much the sum of combat. You’ll select your weaponry, dive in, blast enemies whilst swapping your guns for more ammo, and then rinse and repeat until the five waves are over. Occasionally a time paradox will appear, which slows down time once activated.
To activate a time paradox, you simply need to shoot at it to trigger the slowing down of time. These last about ten seconds in total and can prove very helpful when you find yourselves overrun. I did bump into a few occasions in which a time paradox would not register a hit, which became increasingly frustrating throughout each occurrence. Nevertheless, those, the enemies, and a few environmental hazards, are all that you’ll be shooting at from beginning to end, and as you can imagine, it becomes very, very repetitive.
The game attempts to keep things fresh by introducing a wealth of new weapons, and to its credit, there’s a nice variety of firepower to lean on. There’s everything from snipers, rifles and pistols, right up to auto-shotguns, flamethrowers and grenade launchers. The only downside is that outside of handling differently, there’s not much difference to each weapon as far as actual power is concerned. Meaning that the whole mix-and-match mechanic falls slightly flat on its face. Still, it’s nice to see a lot of variety on this front.
Sadly, I cant say the same about the enemy variation. Enemies in Time Carnage tend to revolve around the standard grunts we’ve seen time and time again elsewhere, and at that, there’s not really a large quantity of variation. Raptors, T-Rex, and triceratops take up the bulk of the dino-themed levels, whereas robots, tanks and droids take up the majority of the futuristic levels. Time Carnage leans far too heavily on the mediocre on this front, and by no means tries to stand out due to its complete lack of originality, which is a huge shame.
When you’re done with the relatively short, somewhat storyless campaign, arcade and challenge mode is all you have left. The arcade mode is arguably the most interesting mode out of the lot; pitting you up against all enemy types at once throughout the game’s maps. Here, you can apply (once unlocked) a range of different perks to help you along. Challenge mode, on the other hand, has you fulfilling specific tasks under specific requirements, with a bronze, silver and gold reward system in place to rank you based on how far you get through.
There’s no denying that Time Carnage is best suited for VR above non-VR. The whole interface, the movement and the general design just makes the game seem as though it shouldn’t be without that support, making it feel alien on the controller. Speaking of the controls, there’s a stiffness to the aiming that no amount of sensitivity adjusting will overcome. Oftentimes did I witness slow and sluggish aiming when trying to swiftly turn around to blast enemies on my six. It’s massively annoying for a game that’s said to be frantic.
In regards to the visuals, Time Carnage is offers up some well detailed environments and nicely designed weapons, but its effects, its enemy design and its lack of background detail, leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, its nice that each level is based in a new areas, but when the things that you’re actually concentrating on look like last-gen turds, it’s a bit disheartening. I’ll extend the same level of criticism to the audio design, being that Time Carnage is chock-full of generic sounds and bland cues from the get-go, right up till you put down the pad.
Time Carnage seems much better suited for VR platforms. Though, nevertheless, even with that support in mind, I dare say that the novelty would be almost instantly chased away by the game’s repetitive structure and its sheer lack of evolving gameplay. The game’s arcade mode and challenge mode offers some fleeting fun, but before that, you’ll need to hit the tiresome campaign to unlock needed features.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.