Without knowing much about Timothy Vs The Aliens, other than it’s by Wildsphere (Naught and Flying Soldiers), I was under the impression that it would be a kids game – which is absolutely fine. What I wasn’t expecting was a gangster named Timothy.
With an opening quote from Al Capone, the famous watercolour artist, it set the tone that this was going to be a raw mafia-like adventure. Then Timothy’s name crops up, and I let out a little chuckle. Disclaimer to all the full-bodied Tim’s out there: there’s nothing wrong with the name; it was just a little too pleasant for this chap.
There weren’t any voiceovers, just text, and this was disappointing. Why? Because I didn’t want to look away from the visuals – I really liked them. Film noir doesn’t mean ‘black and white’, and while we aren’t going to take a detour to German expressionism, let’s just say the scenes were really nice, and expertly lit. The score is great too, and I may have to ditch the metal for a bit.
After the cutscene, I went out in the open with Timothy and a (toy) gun. Why the heck hadn’t I played this yet? The presentation was brilliant; the play area was really atmospheric and… there’s nothing to do. Ah, perhaps this is why I wasn’t overly familiar with Timothy Vs The Aliens.
Besides jumping up on platforms and shooting the odd rat, there wasn’t much of a game here, and I wondered if I was getting a glimpse of a working title. I was getting flashbacks to my beloved Larry Laffer and Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust, and my interest started to wane. What I hadn’t realised was the tooltip about a map. Without any clear route, I’d missed it, and located the building I needed to explore. That’s when the game began.
Timothy will get rushed by these Cthulhu-like aliens, well, they’re more like the Brain Spawn from Futurama, and dare I say, said they were cute when I first saw them. But an emphasis on rush as these little buggers are pretty aggressive, and after the quick introduction to one on his lonesome, you’ll encounter squads of them that are relentless. Still, the game isn’t stupidly hard, so no worries there.
But it isn’t the cuteness that stands out, but the use of colour. It’s very literal (is that even the proper term?) as Timothy Vs The Aliens is a black and white B-movie, with splashes of colour when it comes to the invaders. It’s pretty striking and a technique that is underused in videogames, in my opinion. One of the best games to showcase these effects was The Saboteur back in the days of the PS3. Don’t try and download it from the store; find a hard copy.
Speaking of another press industry, not the gaming one – they all wear Halo t-shirts. Anyhoo, this card has granted Tim-bo a special ability to slow downtime, but for the enemies – he moves like The Flash. While it’s not on par with Max Payne, it’s a cool effect, pending you use it in moderation due to the cooldown effect.
Though the initial appearance of an open-world, Timothy Vs The Aliens is a linear experience. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s a little confusing at first as the game gives the impression you can do what you want, and while you can, there isn’t much to do other than proceed with the defending of the Earth. Oh, and you get to drive about town too, but as mentioned, best stick to the story elements and action.
Timothy Vs The Aliens does come across as a bit of a showreel as on the surface, it’s a really nice looking game, but with a lack of variety, it will lose the appeal for many. My 11-year-old was only interested in the action sequences, while the 4-year-old was happy to jump up and down fences and shoot the rats. For me, I can see why others may find the game a bit flat, but from my perspective, I enjoyed playing it and marvelling at the scenery and alien blasting.
Just to expand on that, I enjoy spending time in aesthetically pleasing worlds or grinding a character to get past a section and subsequently have a lot of patience in my old age. The latter grinding element doesn’t apply here, but the 1930s(?) aesthetic was lovely. While some platforming sections can be tiresome and the enemies a little too neurotic, armed only with your pistol (later a magnum), it was still fun.