Time travel has fascinated humanity for centuries, acting as the premise behind many classic and respected works for fiction as a vehicle for exploring what life was like in history, or what it could be like in the future. Time Carnage uses the idea to add some variety to the virtual reality (VR) staple of the wave shooter.
Time Carnage puts the player in the role of a time traveller who is seeking to hunt down monsters in various times and places. To do this, you are presented with four weapons slots, which can be filled with a selection of weaponry in to suit the task at hand.
Weapons reload automatically when not in use, so choosing the correct loadout for the mission and then dynamically swapping between them becomes a critical skill. Though you start out with only two weapon types available, a handgun and a sub machine gun, many more can be unlocked as you advance through the levels. There’s also an energy shield that protects you from oncoming foes, but it only has so much power and if it breaks, you are in trouble.
As with most wave shooters, you stand in one place and shoot down enemies as they charge towards you. There are fast-moving creatures, slower standard enemies and bigger, lumbering brutes who hit like trucks but move like molasses. So far, so standard. One interesting wrinkle is the Time Paradoxes which, when activated, slow time to a crawl and allow you to pick off foes at your leisure, useful for when you are overwhelmed by enemies.
The graphics are, for the most part, not especially impressive. Though everything is well-rendered, there is a strange yellow colour wash over everything that makes the environment look washed-out and desaturated. This is particularly notable in the otherwise lush prehistoric jungle area.
There is no real story to speak of. There is some flavour text in the lobby area giving a brief biography of each area, such as the town of Morganville, which was devastated by a nuclear war and subsequent plague, but no other details are given and there doesn’t appear to be more information to discover. Nor is there indication of why you are there, other than to shoot things.
The sound is a real stand-out. The music is nicely dramatic, pleasant to listen to without overwhelming the action. Sound effects take full advantage of 3D sound, offering critical clues as to what enemy is coming up next and where they are located.
The gameplay loop is satisfying once you get the hang of it, grabbing and dropping firearms as needed, but the waves are numerous, and each level at times seems interminable. This is particularly true early on when you are in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Later levels offer more visual interest, but many players might be put off by the lengthy and somewhat uninteresting early levels.
Time Carnage is well-made, and is a fine, competent example of its genre, with some excellent music and sound design, though it ultimately fails to stand out amidst many other similar titles that litter VR videogame libraries. Shooting dinosaurs is still lots of fun, though.