Now entering Little Fish City
Remember back in the PS2/GameCube/Xbox era when there seemed to be an over-abundance of Grand Theft Auto clones? Games like The Simpsons: Hit & Run that were never as fun as GTA but had their own little charm to them. That’s a good starting point to discussing Timothy vs the Aliens. It has its own little charms, but it falls short in other areas.
You play as Timothy, a gangster (yes… a gangster named Timothy) who is tasked with saving your city from an alien invasion. That pretty much sums up the story. You’re a gangster (…named Timothy). Aliens are invading. Stop them. Aside from the titular aliens and Timothy’s ace card in his hat, the game is completely black and white. Combined with the slow jazz music playing throughout the game, it really hammers in that film noir feel that the developers were going for and I love that design choice.
The gameplay is pretty run-of-the-mill
A mixture of third-person shooting and platforming in a small open-world setting, it’s nothing really new. The main gimmick of the game is contained in Timothy’s ace card. Pressing the X button unleashes the “Power of the Ace” which is… just bullet-time. Don’t get me wrong, bullet-time is fine. It’s just kind of been done to death at this point. And honestly, it’s not very useful save for giving you a little breathing room if the aliens start to overwhelm you. Speaking of the aliens, I have to say that I think the design they went with was perfect. While there are only maybe four different types of enemies, they have a silly, cartoony look that I thought was very fun.
The controls are a bit slippery and floaty
This is abundant when it comes to platforming. This is where the game can get frustrating. It’s one thing to fall off of a platform and have to climb back up, but in areas where falling leads to certain death and with some pretty lengthy load times between respawns, the monotony cranks up to 11. There were points where I just had to walk away for a bit and try later.
The shooting is… nothing to write home about. It’s not bad or anything, just kind of bland. You have four different guns to choose from. You start off with a pistol and early on you unlock a Tommy Gun. You can also buy a shotgun and a magnum, but I found myself sticking to the Tommy Gun more often than not. The aliens splatter into green and orange whenever you shoot them which can be pretty satisfying. There are vehicles around the city that you can drive, but the driving controls are just as slippery as the platforming and almost makes driving seem like more trouble than it’s worth.
Now for my nitpicks
First off, there is NO voice acting in the game. While I know this is probably due to the budget or lack thereof, the cutscenes have subtitles that make it seem like there should be voice acting. I feel like going with speech bubbles would have been a better design choice as the subtitles make it feel like there are audio issues causing the voices to cut out. Navigating the menus is done with the D-pad only. If you try to navigate with the analogue stick, it does nothing. Yes, a small flaw, but it bothered me to no end. My biggest complaint though, is resuming the game from a pause. Usually in games, I resume from a pause by pressing the A button (the default confirmation button on most Switch titles). Problem is, in Timothy vs the Aliens, the A button quits the game and takes you back to the main menu! No “are you sure?” or anything. Just straight back to the menu. And with the aforementioned lengthy load times, this is super frustrating.
Timothy vs The Aliens definitely has its charms. The film noir aesthetic is one that I’ve always had a love affair with and the slow jazz just makes it even better. The design of the aliens is pure wacky fun and splatting them across the ground is super satisfying. The floatiness of the controls makes platforming a chore and with the load times being somewhat lengthy, it can really test even the most seasoned gamer’s patience. With some polish, it could be a nice little throwback to a fun era in gaming.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 22/07/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Wild Sphere
Publisher: Wild Sphere
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop