Let us explain…
tinyBuild’s No Time to Explain finds itself in a common pitfall for indie games. It begins with a neat premise, a cool art style, and what it thinks is a good sense of humor. But like so many indie games before it, it fails on execution. Riddled with numerous technical and design problems, No Time to Explain feels more like the flash game it originated as than a paid product. Luckily, I have time to explain.
Your tale begins when a future version of yourself travels back in time and seeks your help, Terminator style, only for his plea to be interrupted by the deadly grasp of a giant crab monster. Armed with Future-you’s dropped laser gun, you embark on a 2D platforming journey through time to set things straight.
Laser guns from the future are powerful. So powerful, in fact, that they can propel you off the ground. Therein lies No Time to Explain’s gameplay premise. You’ll use your laser to jetboost across levels, maneuver obstacles, and defeat foes. It’s a solid gameplay hook that makes for some interesting moments. Levels last about a minute if not less, giving No Time to Explain a similar vibe to Super Meat Boy, with immediate retries and some devious platforming. After taking a bit of time to master it, using the laser precisely was occasionally satisfying.
Leading you on are the agonizing screams of your future self, who seems to always find some painful way to die. He’ll yell things like “I spent like two minutes doing my hair this morning and this is my reward?!” or “I’m sorry I pirated Rollercoaster Tycoon!” His lines range from genuinely funny to only funny to thirteen year olds, but the joke gets old fast, and you’ll hear them repeated over and over. Thankfully, there’s an option to turn him off, and the game even apologizes when you do.
No Time to Explain’s other problems, however, aren’t so easily remedied. Namely, it’s full of bugs. In several instances, the spikes in the level that are supposed to be lethal simply weren’t anymore, and I was free to walk along them as I wished. Another time, the game crashed when I tried to exit fullscreen mode. But the most severe bug I encountered was when my laptop’s battery ran out mid-session, and the game erased my save, forcing me to start from the very beginning. Although No Time to Explain launched on Steam only recently, it’s been out on other platforms for over a year. A game that old shouldn’t have so many bugs.
Checkpoints are also a major problem in No Time to Explain, as they’re completely inconsistent. In most cases, particularly when you’re killed by spikes, the checkpoints are quite fair, and you’ll often respawn at your character’s last safe location. However, when you’re killed by fire, you’ll have to restart the whole level. This disparity is never explained, and doesn’t always make much sense.
Checkpoints get even weirder during boss fights. You can’t exactly die. Instead, your character will appear to just die and respawn instantly, while the boss fight proceeds as if nothing happened. This makes boss fights pointlessly easy. There is an exception to this, however, since one of the bosses is capable of setting you on fire. And like being set on fire in any other level, this means starting the fight from the beginning. Suffice it to say, it was infuriating.
No Time to Explain simply doesn’t feel like it should be a paid product. You can get through it in a few hours, and with the exception of collectible hats, there’s little reason to replay any of the levels. There’s not a lot of polish, content, or even substance to be found. Your $10 will be better spent elsewhere.
Review copy supplied
Tested on PC