Tech reviews

Review – Time Walker: Dark World

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Time Walker: Dark World does something strange. It seems to throw away pretty much all the parts of an RPG except for the inventory management. That’s crazy to me. It’s like throwing away all the parts of a trifle except for the sponge fingers. Yeah, okay, they’re a key structural component of the overall dessert but if I ordered trifle and someone handed me a bowl of ladyfingers, I’d be a trifle miffed. You may be wondering why I’m blathering on about trifles.

Ultimately, it’s because I found Time Walker: Dark World to be thoroughly unengaging. Part of that is likely down to the choice of genre. Auto Battler is quite the niche genre and I’m not sure it’s for me. I prefer more interaction, not less. Still, even looking at it on a genre level, I’m not sure Time Walker: Dark World is a stellar example either way. It just doesn’t do enough to replace what’s taken out by the Auto Battling.

Time Walker: Dark World - a group of heroes fights in the first areaTime Walker: Dark World - a group of heroes fights in the first area

Let Me Fight That For You

The first question to answer is: what is an Auto Battler, in this context? Well, it means that all of the battles in Time Walker: Dark World play out by themselves. You just wind up your heroes and let ’em rip. After each battle, you play around with the equipped skills, put your lads in position for the next fight and off you go. Things turn into a blur after a while, especially if you up the speed. A pandemonium of sparkly effects and big numbers. As game ideas go, it actually did have some promise.

It hovered around the ‘idle game’ feeling for me, where you can switch the brain off and become enchanted by the blinking lights. Time Walker: Dark World never quite gets there though, as the constant inventory management gets in the way. We’ll get to that, but I will say that Time Walker: Dark World does have quite a bit of content. There’s quite a few different characters to choose from, with their own quirks. The Berserker, for instance, attacks everything in a grid. There are also roguelite elements, where each run makes you just a bit stronger so you can punch more of a hole through the enemy – even if it is a touch too easy at times.

Time Walker: Dark WorldTime Walker: Dark World

Automatically Checked Out

I think my lack of enthusiasm comes from the feeling that Time Walker: Dark World is trapped somewhere between a genuine idle game and a regular RPG. The result is that the worst parts of each are shining through. We’re back on the inventory. Every fight vomits up a new treasure, with different stats, or a hero class. These can be slotted into one of your heroes equip slots, or merged to beef them up or generate more. Fights are generally over in a few seconds, so most of my playtime was spent comparing stats and tidying up my inventory. It’s dull work and rapidly pulled me out of things.

There are a lot of rough edges here as well. At the start of every battle, you need to position your heroes but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. No matter where I put my archer, they still just charge directly into the middle of everything. Then Time Walker: Dark World starts every fight with you being surrounded and outnumbered and you might as well not bother. Then there’s the good, old-fashioned jank. All the dialogue is written in broken English, which unfortunately makes most of the jokes fall flat. There’s a sense of humour about Time Walker: Dark World but the bad writing is another nail in the coffin.

Time Walker: Dark World - Heroes fight against goblins in the desertTime Walker: Dark World - Heroes fight against goblins in the desert

Time Walker: Dark World – Falls Flat

I feel that Time Walker: Dark World would have been stronger if it had leaned more into the idle game concept. Consistently breaking things up between each fight to have us empty out another batch of skills stopped me from being able to switch off the brain. If the fights ran consistently and I could drop in to fine tune things, it would’ve been a smoother experience. Either that or go the other way and let me pop off the active skills. As it is, it’s a little like the worst of both worlds.

It’s possible that I just don’t like this kind of genre. I had similar thoughts about Spirit Hunters: Infinite Horde after all. It just doesn’t feel like a game at all to me. It’s got game-like bits in it, but all the traditionally fun stuff is stripped out until we’re just left, essentially, manipulating columns on a spreadsheet. It’s too involved to be a proper idle game; too hands-off to play like a proper RPG. Instead, Time Walker: Dark World just falls straight through the cracks.

(Time Walker: Dark World’s Steam Page)


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