On Time Travel

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Daikatana was actually pretty cool. Great level design.... Romero-ish.

Gotta play it again some day. I'm beginning to wonder whether I'm not just idealizing it.

I thought the way they used short-term time travel in God of War was rather interesting, if just a way to make the plot go further.

And just imagine if all master debaters were like this Chris E. How interesting the world would be, eh?

Count me in for Braid. Not only was the time-travel mechanic central to the gameplay, but it included several interesting variations and it even tied into the overall story and theme. Unlike most other games where time-travel is turned into a convenient "bullet time" excuse (just to make the game easier for those unskilled at FPSes), time travel was essential to completing the puzzles in Braid. It was sublime.

Chrono Trigger was good too. Each time period was considerably different, with different environments, characters, and the like. What happened in what period affected other periods in a logical sequence, without resorting to the "butterfly effect" cliche (only important changes had lasting effects).

Interesting article as always from Yahzee.

Time travel done well in a video game is great, in fact, the best ones are when you forget you end up time travelling at all, like in Majora's Mask. You stop thinking, 'ok, I'm now three days in the past, first things first, slow down time...' instead it just becomes part of the game play machanics.

It's interesting how many video games do feature time travel... hmmm... must be a Doctor Who thing (joke, well, semi-joke, DW came before video games).

Hey, what was wrong with Majora's mask? It was one of the few Zelda games that actually tried something different, and it was massively creepy and surreal. I actually liked how it embraced metagaming, and several of the plots required you to use information you'd gained later to solve things earlier.

Plus the Anju/Kafei quest arc is amazingly sweet. I actually got a little annoyed when I had to leave the city and go do the main plot because I really enjoyed going around fixing things for people.

Legacy of Kain was one of the most elegantly told stories, masterfully voiced and cleverly written despite the inclusion of time travel (which has caused more than one narrative to get bogged down in the temporal illogic). Soul Reaver and Defiance are excellent examples of the sort of game you want to play despite the clunky gameplay and often frustrating puzzles. It really is my prime example of a game that works mostly because of the story and the actors rather than the gameplay, to the point where you are willing to soldier on past the most frustrating parts to get to the next piece in the narrative.

Now that I think about it the only game that I've ever played that had time travel, and wasn't mentioned in this article, was Chrono Trigger. Although, Chrono Trigger used time travel as more of a plot device than an actual gameplay mechanic.

My favorit time travel game is probably The Darkness. It feels like that game is the only thing in the world who came with an accrute view how world war 1 was.

I'd say Chrono Trigger, but time travel didn't really affect much except how good the items you found were.

But I'm Still Hungry...

I've always been curious about how game developers implement "time travel".
In most games, you just travel between eras that are essentially the Dark World. You know, the Dark World, from every game that has two identical and overlapping worlds. It's shaped just like the "normal" world, yet a few things are different, notably it being dark.
So for time travel, what you get is this same concept, and the worlds are labeled as different "times". For instance, Ocarina of Time has two overlapping worlds, Oracle of Ages has 3, Seasons has 4, Chrono Trigger has 5 (6 if you include Day of Lavos).
Now, some are different and more chronologically oriented. In games like Seasons, Link to the Past, the multiple worlds are said to exist simultaneously. Affecting a static object in one world will affect the other, and vice versa. In contrast, when you have different worlds at different chronological points, time only flows one way. An action in the past will affect the present or future, but not vice versa. But aside from this, there's no difference.
This always bothered me slightly, because the time travel seems slightly inconsistent. If I anger someone in "the past", then when I return to "the past" why is he still angry? If my time machine can travel to the year 1000, and in the year 1000 I'm convicted of a crime, then why can't I go back to before the crime? It's because in these games, I'm not traveling through time, rather through overlapping dimensions where the order of inter-dimensional effects only goes one way.
Now there's nothing wrong with this. I'm just speaking my mind.

On an entirely unrelated note, does anybody remember Putt Putt Travels through Time for the PC?

I think Chris E. should not mail people anymore or bad things might happen to their...............yea I don't know where I was going with that.

OT: I honestly didn't notice many games had time manipualtion stuff (OTHER than bullet time)

did someone say "future war"?


I indeed will take that suggestion and say that Majora's Mask is probably my very favorite time travel involving game ever. Even without the aid of Time as a theme it qualifies to beat out most other games in many many categories.
Though Chris.E can keep his approval I just need to wave the Majora's Mask banner all shiny with pride. =L

Prince of Persia Sands of Time and Warrior Within both qualify for second on their merits of narrative and game play respectively.

Ocarina of Time would probably make third.

I have a huge deal of respect for Majora's Mask --Not for the game itself, mind, I actually couldn't give a rat's ass about it; but for inspiring this timeless piece of journalism clusterfuckery:

"To live life is to don a mask each and every day. Our true selves are seldom exposed to the world at large; to show everything to the people we must share our existences with would be to risk the ultimate rejection. We are what we think others want to see, and we live our lives doing this each and every day until it's impossible to tell where the mask ends and we begin. A mere decoration becomes a metaphor for humanity's hard time on planet Earth. We are the masks we wear."


Ah, it never gets old.

And of course the subsequent Old Man Murray artical.

My favourite time travel premise for a game is probably Original War. America has discovered a time machine, and Russia has discovered a super-rare mineral that allows cold fusion. America sends people back in time to when it was all one giant super-continent, to dig up this mineral from what will be Russia and bury it in what will be America. However, on arriving in the past you discover that your actions there create a timeline where Russia found the time machine and America had the mineral, so Russia sent people back in time for pretty much the same reason as the Americans did. This then creates another timeline where a third party gets the time machine and gets involved, and you end up with a massive war between relatively small groups of people millions of years into the past. It's an awesome game. Go try it.

Wait Yahtzee...you mentioned Majoras Mask at the end there...but in a way that sounds like you didnt like it.

If that is true then you can go jump off a fucking cliff! Majoras Mask is fantastic! I urge you to play that game again to see why its such an amazing game and why it is the most mature Zelda game ever made.

Ratchet and Clank a crack in time had time manipulation and i thought it was pretty good. Games using bullet time just let the player know that they arent good enough to play the game under the regular speed.

As I asked with the Mario Galaxy 2 thread, what is the point of this? I played Timeshift, and considered it alright in story, though gameplay was at times adequate, and at others fucking confusing. Level design wasn't the best, either.

But the thing is, instead of discussing which games with time travel involved we prefer, why don't we discuss the actual gameplay mechanics for time travel/manipulation that truly worked? After all, it would fit a bit better with the subject matter than 'i think chorno Cross was the berst game evar!!!!', and might even be useful to whatever aspiring developers (LIKE ME) decide to look at this thread.

To me, Yahtzee has always been a source of at least two things: a good laugh, and good ideas. From the design and commentary on the Chzo Mythos, to his reviews of games with Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee has always made something that I could look at and extrapolate good information or ideas from. So why not help, people, instead of turning this into just another opinion thread?

Second thoughts: Besides, although time travel isn't really a gameplay mechanic, I still think the Chzo Mythos are the best games to actually incorporate time travel. Storywise, at least; some puzzles were an absolute bitch to get through.

Well I guess I'll join the band wagon and say hands down for a time traveling game is Chrono Trigger. But then again The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Season had a sort of time traveling mechanics to it if you count changing the season when necessary. oh and just because its probably hasn't been mentioned yet but ape escape did a alright job with time travel as well.

Time travel games, That's something I haven't thought about. Although the newest Ratchet & Clank (Crack in Time) Had some pretty interesting ways of using time manipulation. Even if I can't think of examples at this time.

Personally, I love slo-mo powers. Especially in First Person Shooters.

Majora's Mask is the only Zelda game I loved, because it was different. I think it's a really amazing starting point for a mechanic that was never improved upon (not that I've really searched, I could very easily be wrong). I'd love to see it done amazingly intricately with like, 20 days, on a whole world, that you could just reset again to see what you missed. I'd like an Extra Punctuation paragraph on why you don't like it (which is what I'm assuming) because a man can dream.

Caverns of Time in WoW, some of you may not like the game, but being able to play through some of the missions from WC3 in a new perspective is simply awesome!

More like Legend of Zelda: Groundhog Day >_<

I don't remember how much it was tied into actual gameplay, but Dark Fall: Lights Out had a cool three-time-periods mechanic similar to Day of the Tentacle.

The Discworld-based adventurer, although it didn't revolve around time travel, had one of its main mechanics revolving around Rincewind's capacity to use the dark corners of the Unseen University's Library to go back in time 12 hours.

Among the things you'd use this power for includes:

Finding yourself 12 hours prior sleeping in the park hammered from the reverse-time made liquor you'd still drink in the future, so you can put a frog on your own mouth in order to block your snoring from blowing a butterfly away.

Releasing said butterfly on a spot a cleric in dark mantles would give his sermon 12 hours later so that it'd cause a storm on that spot, wetting his mantle and forcing him to put it away so you can steal it.

Participating on the ritual that summoned the Dragon you're trying to deal with in the present to know how the ritual was made and who's responsible, but probably becoming the reason it was summoned in the first place.

Put a sheet over your head to scare a guy you know was scared by a ghost in the present.

If I'd remember more I'd post it, but that game was way too confusing without adding time-traveling to the mix. Good adventurer though, but completely mad.


If I'd remember more I'd post it, but that game was way too confusing without adding time-traveling to the mix. Good adventurer though, but completely mad.

Yup, that's pretty much how Pratchett rolls. :)

Wait, to get attention from Yahtzee all we have to do is talk smack?

Branston Pickle sucks, Joss Whedon is a genius, Psychonauts is the worst game ever made, and all Australians/Brits (same difference) smell incredibly horrid. Also, the reason you dislike games is because you can't play them properly. Yahtzee? More like Nahtzee!

Serious Sam. The entire game is based around you stopping the future happening by changing the past. Its why all the enemies teleport in. They are sent from the future.

I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Shadow of Memories yet, going back in time to find out who keeps killing you in the present, or is it just that everyone hated it? lol

I'm going to agree with pretty much everyone else on here. Chrono Trigger -- best time travel-based game, hands down.

It may not of been completely scientifically accurate, but well... time travel isn't exactly science yet anyways.

Best game with time travel where it didn't actually effect the gameplay at all? Sure, TMNT Turtles In Time was pretty awesome.

Games on my "to-do" list involving time travel:
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time

Oh, and Red Alert was sort of premised on time travel, although the gameplay didn't involve it. Loved that one.

This article felt pretty half-assed. The list of games was woefully inadequate. Like he said, Wikipedia had the damn list already for him, he couldn't of spent a little more time picking some more meaningful games and dissecting them?

"Dear Yahtzee,

You are a faggot. You suck the penis of over 100 different species of animal. You enjoy being raped up the bum by old, hairy men. Your dick is smaller than an average 12 year old's. All you do is say stupid things on teh internet for a living. You have a fetish for grandmas. Go and fuck yourself. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best."

This is the example I will use the next time someone asks me what a Nintendo Fanboy is. Thank you Chris E. You made my day.


Lvl 64 Klutz:
I want to know whatever happened to that RTS that was supposed to use time travel as a gameplay element?

Achron? They're still doing it. It's currently in alpha, and i may consider buying it.

I'm incredibly intrigued by that game... I want it.

Yahtzee, you crazy past-altering superhuman, Cryostasis. If you can soak your PC in enough liquid nitrogen you should try it. Oddly enough it's a mystery game despite the shooting happening. You see, you go into people's memories from before they die to fix the timeline to a happy place, but it's about learning about their actions and what all of their mutations into creepy monsters mean and shit. It's very unique, but I'm at odds as to whether you would like it, debating between mediocre gunplay on the top and the world's greatest video game story and use of mystery as a gameplay element underneath.

Well you'll probably just ignore this. But it would make for a neat review for a time when not much is really coming out. Like, for instance, now.

Back to the future NES... I can't think of any other.

I remember the horror that was that game!

Haha, I wonder if Chris E has a user account here on the Escapist?

It pains me to have to be yet another person to harp it, but I loved the Journeyman Project series, particularly the first. Photo-realistic graphics? Filmed FMV sequences? Oh my. Also, the premise of monopolising time-travel for the purpose of maintaining the contiguity between past and present was an interesting one. The only drawback I thought it had was the loneliness the game forced you into. Harped at by computerised voices that you, Agent 5 are late; being confronted by dickhead robots...

I also love the novel idea of leaving a disk with the entirety of earth's history buried into the side of a random mountain in 400,000 BC. How they exactly managed to store or even accurately record such a large amount of information is another story though...

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