Developer(s) – Haywire Studios
Publisher(s) – Haywire Studios
Programmer – Cameron Coggins
Developed by Australian indie outlet Haywire Studios following a successful Kickstarter campaign and due for release later on this month:
A Matter of Time is a top-down combat-focused RPG, telling the story of James; a hero sent to a different timeline to combat a great evil plaguing the land. Turning out massively different to what the game looked like in its early stages of development at the time when I first interviewed Cameron Coggins, the game turned out to be quite enjoyable with a fair bit to offer in terms of combat options and telling a pretty different story to anything else seen in gaming.
Graphics – 8/10
The game makes use of traditional 8-BIT graphics to present a diversely designed world with each location being more wonderfully outlandish than the last. Taking place in lush forests, dark caves, otherworldly dimensions, and even a post-apocalyptic city, the game’s visuals are the best aspect of the title; there is also a wide range of different enemies the player must contend with the introduction of each new area; some reminiscent of classic video games enemies such as the slimes from Dragon Quest.
Gameplay – 7/10
A top-down RPG with a linear progression, the game is very heavily combat-orientated with light RPG elements such as leveling up to increase health and enhance the magical abilities the player can take advantage of to maintain an edge in combat, such as a dash ability and the ability to stop time temporarily to defeat multiple enemies simultaneously. The combat aspect is quite well put together and quite satisfying to undertake; though a lot of enemies use similar attack patterns, the difficulty is racked up considerably towards the end, requiring the player to strategize accordingly.
Controls – 10/10
The game’s control scheme is not only easy to get to grips with, but it also does something rather unique; when the player uses the dash attack to take out multiple enemies, the player must use the mouse to indicate which enemies they need to attack. At first glance, this seemed to become more of a hindrance than a help, but ample time is given to players to make that decision; even when the ability hasn’t yet been upgraded. It reminded me somewhat of the original Metroid Prime; unique controls, it takes a little time to adjust, but once adjusted to, it’s no problem.
Lifespan – 4/10
The game’s longevity is most definitely the worst thing about it. The game can be finished in less than 2 hours, which for an RPG even with light elements, is a pretty short time to last. That being said, if the game is played through, players will find that there is most definitely scope for expansion to this world’s mythology; be that through either a sequel or DLC. The series does potentially have a bright future ahead of it, but a game of this magnitude deserves to last far longer than what it does.
Storyline – 6/10
The story of the game follows a 12th-century barbarian named James, who is taken to an alternative time by a mysterious organization that enlists his help to defeat an evil known as the Dark Atomos which is wreaking havoc across time and space. James is also in search of his daughter, whom he claims to be the last thing he has left. It’s an emotionally charged story with a few twists and turns before the end and it makes it stand out somewhat among the circle of indie RPGs released since the start of the eighth generation.
Originality – 7/10
All these elements combined within the game make it a fairly unique experience; one worth playing through at least once. There are these elements of it that show that the game was a labor of love undertaken over a period of many years and as there is a lot of room for expansion in most of every aspect, there is definitely scope for there being extensive mythology attached to this series; but overall, this game is a decent start to all that.
In summation, A Matter of time, whilst having a couple of issues here and there, is a respectively good game worth at least one playthrough and a solid start for this up-and-coming development team. It has an emotionally charged story, decent gameplay, unique controls, and some extremely well-crafted visuals and it has a lot of potential to expand into a great series down the lines.