Timothy Vs. the Aliens
Developer: Wild Sphere
Publisher: Wild Sphere
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam and PlayStation)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 22/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Say, Slick – We Don’t Get Many Like You Around Here
Timothy Vs The Aliens is a smart, sort of original looking game, released on PS4 a few years ago to a few good reviews and a few more poor ones. It’s set in a 1940s style noir city, where everything is black and white (apart from the aliens) and your every move is accompanied by a rather unexciting smooth jazz soundtrack. You are Timothy, a gangster about town who has to repel an alien attack. It’s simple in principle and doesn’t get much more complex in practice. It’s been widely praised for its look, and to be fair that certainly stands out.
Nice Looking Joint You Have Here
When I saw this was an open-world game, I was hoping for a nice GTA-light experience, but boy was I barking up the wrong tree there. Timothy himself is very reminiscent of a Lego game character in the way he moves and his stumpy appearance. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this was once intended as a Lego project. Whilst the black and white film noir visuals are very effective, it does get a little samey, and I yearned for some colour that wasn’t the very few types of aliens that pop up at random and wobble towards you.
The city itself is pretty small for an open-world game, and the colour scheme makes everything appear drab and uninteresting, something of an own goal really. The aliens are not too exciting, either, with small, blobby, bouncy ones that remind me of the eighties video game star Q*bert (ask your folks, kids) and larger slobbering ones leaving an impression of pure “meh”.
Don’t Play Games, You Might Regret It
Once you dive into the game, things get pretty samey pretty fast. You wander around the city finding keys and opening up new areas, occasionally killing aliens but mostly just running away from them as it’s equally effective when not in one of the self-sealing mini-boss type areas where you get a mini gauntlet of them. Killing them involves using guns, and whilst there are four of them they don’t have any real meat to them, and I can’t see anyone getting much use out of any save the machine gun.
The act of shooting stuff is hindered by a tiny aiming reticule that is pretty hard to see, especially in handheld, and often results in avoidable injuries and wasted bullets. There is also a slow down button, to make things easier, but it doesn’t really improve things much and runs out way too fast. Max Paine this ain’t, though movement in general is a pain, with the controls doing what they want half the time, which was no fun in the sewers when I kept falling in and getting injured or gnawed on by very shoddy looking rats.
In addition to general wandering and hoping you come across what you’ve been tasked with finding, there are a few platform type sections. These are pretty simple once you’ve actually found them, something that is never adequately indicated by the sloppy, non-rotating mini-map. There are also a few vehicles, once you’ve bought a key to unlock their use, but they are nothing to get excited about. Control is rough, their use is minimal and the playing area is too small for them to really be of much help anyway. I was hoping they’d bring some fun to a torpid, yawn-some experience, but they didn’t.
Play It Again, Sam
One big problem I had with the game is the sound. If you’re going to set your game in such a setting that’s rich for characterisation, it would be a start to have voice acting. Well, you’d think so, but Timothy Vs. The Aliens eschews that for text only conversations which, as is standard, require serious squinting in handheld mode. The only sounds we have are the blasts of your guns, which do the job, and a continuous light jazz soundtrack that made me want to jump off a cliff after about an hour.
Timothy Vs The Aliens is not an expensive game, and I’m sure the unique visual style will entertain some, but trust me when I say it’s just not worth the bother. The trailer makes it look way better than it really is, and what it is, is a four hours or so slog-fest that delivers zero beyond an interesting setting. It’s an easy game that’s also frustrating, and that’s not a good combination. Maybe with a bit more money and just about any imagination at all this could have been a decent game, but what we end up with is a restricted experience that manages to take a gangsters vs. aliens premise and forces it to sleep with the fishes.
Rapid Reviews Rating
1.5 out of 5
You can purchase Timothy Vs. the Aliens on the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.