I’ve been known to be fairly critical when it comes puzzle games in particular. It’s a genre that never seems to slow down. The main reason being that it’s a popular go-to choice for almost any game to tie itself to. Whether it be horror, adventure, or even platforming, we typically see elements of puzzlers in one form or another present. There’s nothing wrong with that, mind, but due to this oversaturation, it can be hard to pick the wheat from the chaff. With that in mind, there’s a new contender on the block, but does it do enough to stand out?
Get ready for a mouthful. Tyd wag vir Niemand (translation – Time waits for Nobody) serves itself as a puzzle platformer, with much more emphasis on the latter than the former. The game’s story is fed to you through text-based transitions, and relays quite an interesting setup from the get-go. Players take on the role of a nameless agent that’s sent on a mission to rescue a group of missing scientists. However, following a series of unfortunate events, you find yourself sucked into a vortex-like machine that spews you out into what’s seemingly another dimension.
This dimensions doesn’t appear to house the same universal laws that we’re privy to, notably that time and physics operate on an entirely different, and at times, dysfunctional level. It soon transpires that your communications with your team have been cut, and from there on out, you’re alone, and at the mercy of the world that sits in wait. Further to that, you now house the ability to manipulate time, which is a trick that’s clearly imperative to your survival. It’s a neat introduction, and on that note, I’ll leave the story there for you to uncover first-hand.
The game wastes little time at getting you into the swing of things. Mercifully, the controls are easy to gel with. Movement is tethered to the left stick, with aiming tied to the right stick. You can jump with the A button and run with LB. Outside of that, you’ll slow down time via RT, and deactivate the slow down with LT. You’ll also find the ability to invert your controls via the view button, and access a level select with the menu button. It’s nice, clean, and straight to the point, which isn’t really something I can wholly say about the adventure overall.
Tyd wag vir Niemand plays out in first-person perspective, in which you’re tasked with overcoming a range of mysterious, distinct, and damn well tricky locations. Now, at first, it felt a bit jarring; simply being stuffed into the oven with no aid whatsoever. Though, I came to appreciate that this is the developer’s way of further making you feel isolated and cut off. There’s a solid difficulty curve to lean on too, being that the game tends to gradually demand more perseverance and accuracy from its players. That said, there’s quite a few drawbacks to be mindful of.
First and foremost, the game’s handling can be hella clumsy. In Tyd wag vir Niemand, timing and precision is everything. However, you’ll often find that many of your mistakes are down to the game’s floaty controls not bonding particularly well with the several tight platforms that you’re required to traverse. The majority of my own deaths fell victim to this, mostly due to sliding off a narrow pathway or missing a jump, simply because of the slight overcompensation in the feedback. It’s irritating at the best of times, irrespective of the game’s generous checkpoint system.
This is especially true during one of the later levels, which serves itself as a collection of spiral stairways. Several times I found myself slipping off the edge or falling way back to ground level through no fault other than that of its handling. It’s a shame, really, because with some refinement, Tyd wag vir Niemand could have been truly special. Things don’t really fare any better in the game’s other levels. I’ll credit Tyd wag vir Niemand for attempting to remain diverse, but this means very little when almost every level brings annoyances.
Take for instance another one of the later levels. Here, you’re tasked with safely guiding a flying pirate ship through perilous hazards. Whilst you don’t actually control said ship, you do watch it from a rowboat beneath, and must use the power of time manipulation to ensure that moving dangers are frozen and out of the ship’s path. Whilst that sounds fair and well on paper, in practice, it’s anything but. The ship’s hit-box is all over the place, with most objects causing damage well beyond reach. Factor in poor camera angles and a one-hit death, and you can picture the frustration that ensues.
Other issues, albeit less invasive, consist of odd visual blemishes, such as the environment randomly flashing or textures infrequently popping in and out. Whilst these problems are far from game breaking, they do certainly break immersion, which is never a good thing when it comes to a game that demands full concentration. Outside of that, there’s little else to grumble about. Tyd wag vir Niemand’s heart is clearly in the right place, it’s just unfortunate that it didn’t spend more time in the oven prior to release, to iron out this collection of flaws.
The game isn’t overly long, but it does okay with the few mechanics that it encompasses. The bulk of play will see you platforming across tight passageways in an attempt to reach a level’s end. When you know what you’re doing, and when the game doesn’t get in your way, levels don’t tend to last more than five to ten minutes per-whack. You’ll be tasked with doing different things in each level. Oftentimes, you’ll be required to play in unique ways, such as being stuck in a moving chair whilst bending time to keep obstacles out of your path. Moving back to the platforming levels, these are all fairly straightforward and self explanatory.
During these moments of play, you simply need to make it from your spawn point, to the level’s end. Sometimes there may be the occasional environmental puzzle to contend with, but for the most part, the answers to these puzzles are staring you in the face. One example would be that of a level that has you mimicking the time on a towering digital clock. Here, you must traverse around these large clock numbers and activate lights that correspond to another clock that sits on the floor; filling in the correct mirrored time. That may sound easy, but it’s a lot harder than it needs to be.
In order to reach the clock’s digital numbers, you’ll be bouncing from cars that are suspended in the air, navigating swift moving platforms, and even running across bent pipes that spin wildly in rapid succession. The ability to slow down time allows for a limited reprieve as you comfortably make it across without being flung out of sight, but the even then, it’s pretty taxing due to the feedback. This is largely how the game’s other platforming-based levels work. Whether you’re jumping buildings miles up in the sky, or leaping from tiny platforms on a deep lake, you’ll always find something tricky to deal with.
Occasionally, the game throws the odd level at you that’s much more hands off. This includes the likes of the aforementioned pirate ship level. I cant say that I particularly enjoyed these segments, but I did appreciate the effort put forward to spice things up a bit. There’s very little in place in regards to environmental engagement. In fact, one of the few things that you’ll engage with are rotating rings of fire. These serve themselves as the game’s triggers, so to speak, and for the most part, you’ll need to interact with these to activate something elsewhere within.
In order to activate them, you’ll need to stand close to them and then circle your cursor in unity with the ring’s motion. Doing so will send out a blinding white light, signifying that something has been triggered; a new platform, more rings of fire, and so forth. Tyd wag vir Niemand is a puzzler that stands out on the merit of its unique design, but it greatly falls flat due to the above problems. I do commend the game for trying something new, especially as to how each new level has you solving puzzles in interesting ways, but the lack of control truly hurts the experience regardless as to where you’re at.
When it comes to a game that focuses much of its difficulty and its progress on platforming, the handling is of vital importance. If the gameplay isn’t tight enough to maintain pace, the whole experience will crumble, and that’s this game’s greatest drawback. It handles as though the main character has ice-lined boots, and a jump that’s as unpredictable and as awkward as they come. I don’t want to be too hard here, because there’s a fair bit to like about Tyd wag vir Niemand; its creative levels and its ability to baffle the mind through its intelligent level design, to name just two things.
It’s just unfortunate that it doesn’t come together as well as it could have. It’s as though each stage has a con for every pro – speaking specifically of its framework, which only further hinders its fluidity in the long-run. Still, when all is said and done, you could go much worse. If you’re a patient die-hard fan of the genre, Tyd wag vir Niemand will serve you well. If, on the other hand, you favor quality and are simply looking for a brain twister to fill an afternoon, I would heavily advise that you look into something more refined, such as Q.U.B.E. or its sequel.
In regards to the game’s audio and visual design, Tyd wag vir Niemand is fairly serviceable. Blemishes aside, the game’s textures are well developed for the most part, with some lush and diverse environments present to take to. That being said, when you’re up close, you can indeed see the lack of polish, as well as some pretty ugly shadowing. Nevertheless, and overall, it gets the job done. In regards to the audio, this is again merely passable. Whilst it sets the mood quite nicely throughout the entirety of play, the soundtrack does loop to the point of frustration.
The bottom line in all of this, if I haven’t already made it clear, is that Tyd wag vir Niemand is a smart concept that’s not been formulated correctly, or even efficiently. The whole ordeal sees you moving through ten stages of remarkable ideas, but each stage brings with it vast levels of frustration for one reason or another. I cant wholeheartedly recommend a trip, but I can indeed say that Tyd wag vir Niemand is unlike anything you’ll play for a good while to come. Just, be sure to persevere if you invest, and further to that, make sure you’ve got a warranty on your controller.
The entire journey is based on process and reflection, and speaking of its ambiguity, the game achieves greatness through bonding that with its intelligent level design and its ability to tease perception. It’s a shame then, that the whole experience is massively let down by its clumsy handling, its lack of technical refinement, and its tedious rinse and repeat gameplay structure. This, if anything, is the definition of squandered potential.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.