Time Carnage Review


What could be more fun than shooting waves of zombies?  Shooting waves of Dinosaurs of course!

So PSVR is almost eighteen months old. The store is filling up with games, and ‘actual games’ rather than glorified tech demos. There have been some real gems, and some real disappointments as well. So far, about 16 hours in, Time Carnage is proving to be one of my most fun to play games in PSVR to date. Now, the definition of ‘actual game’ differs from person to person and genre to genre. Time Carnage actually manages to illustrate this point rather well.

Time Carnage is basically a wave shooter. By this I mean you stand fixed in one spot and use a variety of different weapons to defeat wave after wave of enemies. It’s a game style that has been done before and will be done again. And again. This is because these are fairly simple arcade-style games, and are fun to tune out with and just let yourself go. There is no epic story attached, no role play mechanics to let you build yourself up. Grab bigger weapons and shoot bigger foes – that’s really it. And Time Carnage does this pretty well.

Gameplay

You begin each mission picking four weapons. These weapons are placed two on the left, and two on the right of your platform. The idea is you reach out and grab the weapon(s) you wish to use during the game. Once their ammunition is used, drop them to return them to their starting location where they reload themselves. It’s quite a clever mechanic in use.

There are a variety of weapons to use, but the feeling of firing them is fairly similar. I have unlocked about 80{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of the weapons so far, but in the game there is a sense of each weapon being part of a general catefory. But even from the outset where you only have some basic pistols, each weapon I have played with has been fun, and that is my point more than anything with this game. While there are a lot of games with better graphics and story elements, Time Carnage does what it does well.

Time Carnage Weapon Selection
I haven't unlocked them all yet, but some of the choices at your disposal

Campaign Mode – the core of the game?

So you are a person that jumps through time on a platform to different periods, and shoots lots of things. There is no getting around it – there is no real story, you start in the 4th Millenium. For some reason, the fallout of World War 3 created Zombies, the first enemy type. Once you have completed the four stages, you unlock the Mesozoic Era and face Dinosaurs. Gameplay continues like this until the end of the 4th Century BC, which honestly I am not sure what happens as I haven’t gotten this far. The only Story elements are little blurbs for each era, so really there is no sense of progression other than unlocking the next stage.

Each stage has four areas to clear, and each area has 10 waves that must be defeated. It’s a very set type of play, and if you wanted to play for extended periods is very samey. This is a real pity, because you have to beat the story stages to unlock the real fun areas of the game – the Arcade mode and Challenges.

Time Carnage 05
Shooting waves of incoming dinosaurs is more fun than it should be!
Time Carnage 09
Or facing this version of Skynet's troops

Arcade Mode – A heap of fun

So Arcade Mode is essentially the same as Campaign Mode, but you can tweak each level with different abilities as well as mixing together all of the enemy types unlocked in Campaign Mode. It is somehow wrong and a great deal of fun to be shooting at a group of zombies while reacting to the flying drone shooting you from on high, and hear the heavy steps of the incoming T-Rex.

Also unlocked through the campaign are perks, such as laser sights and extra damage. Then there are the crazier ones, such as Zero-G. Shoot your enemies, and they float off into the distance. I used this more than I should have, especially when coupled with the grenade launcher. I was already having a heap of fun shooting just before the feet making enemies fly high into the air, and then to have them hanging there was hilarious – until the blocked the view of the flying enemies. Ah well, it is push your luck I suppose!

Time Carnage Arcade Enemy Selection
You can mix and match the enemies you unlock in campaign mode
Time Carnage Perks Selection
You can choose one perk from the three levels once unlocked

Arcade mode is a great time to just sit back and shoot things. While essentially just the campaign mode with a bit of customisation via the perks, I can see this being the main mode I will be coming back to once the campaign is complete.

Challenges – they live up to their name

I haven’t done many of these, but the ones I have played have been enjoyable. The very first one is shooting hordes of zombie dogs with laser-sighted crossbows. Next, and my favourite challenge so far, is shooting 40 zombies with a single revolver and 10 rounds. This is achieved by a perk that allows you an extra round for every headshot, so you can miss 9 times. Now that may sound pretty simple to do, and honestly it kind of is, but with the slight position detection issues of PSVR and the zombies waving their arms in front of their faces, it’s not a challenge you can get the first time.

It’s this that I enjoy about the challenges – they are all possible, and you know you can do them. When you don’t quite get there, you aren’t left with a feeling of frustration but of the challenge. All you have to do is learn the secret, and you can do it. And I don’t mean a secret as in ‘fire here to win’, but the secret of how the weapons work.

Time Carnage Cluster Duck Challenge
The challenges do indeed live up to their name
Time Carnage Cluster Duck Explosions
But Cluster Duck is just too much fun. Exploding Rubber Duckies!

When playing the campaign or arcade modes, the weapons feel like they fall into three or four main groups. But it’s here in the challenges, where you are forced to play with very specific weapons, that you get to truly appreciate the little differences. One pistol with laser sights for example means you need to aim a little higher than where the dot goes, while another is slightly to the left. Some sniper scopes line up easier than others and have different zoom levels.

In the heat of arcade or campaign, it’s easy to just shoot again and write off a miss. But in the challenges, this can stop you from getting gold, or even a medal at all.

So it’s a lot of fun, but there are a couple of problems

So you may have noticed a few differences in the screenshots through this article.  Some are definitely better than others.

Now, the resolution comparison between PlayStation VR and the PC based units is a technical fact.  I will never argue that HTC and Oculus don’t look or track better than PlayStation VR.  The nicer and brighter screens are from the press kit downloadable from Wales Interactive’s website.  The slightly squarer and much darker screens are captures from my games.

And this is one of the things you will hear most people complain about – it can be hard to see distant enemies.  In the future missions with the robot enemies, for example, it can be very hard to distinguish the robots from the girders.

I am not going to try and skirt around this – it is a bit of a problem.  It’s hard to make the VR screens lighter without washing out everything, and pixelated distant enemies remain hard to be seen.  But these are not game stopping issues in my opinion, just ones that could have been avoided.  But once you have lost to an enemy once or twice, you learn the pattern and can work around the technical issues.

As with every wave shooter, pattern recognition is a major key to getting through the higher levels.  If this was a full price game, I would be a lot more upset about a couple of cheap deaths because I couldn’t spot an enemy.

Controls wise though the movement is smooth and feels great.  Aiming feels good in Time Carnage, something some other shooters have had trouble with.  I haven’t had any real issues with tracking being lost or centering drifting, so that is a bonus and deserves to be commended – it’s just a visually dark game.

Time Carnage 02
From the PC version
Time Carnage PSVR
Can you spot the enemy in this photo easily?

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Time Carnage

Final Thoughts

Time Carnage is a lot of fun, and only AUD$25. Compared to a lot of other wave shooters on the PlayStation store, Time Carnage is letting me have a great time. But there are a lot of wave shooters on the PlayStation store, so the competition is fierce.

In some ways, I prefer the rail shooter Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. Time Carnage has more variety though, but only after an artificially long campaign mode. Playing the campaign to unlock game benefits is great, but it’s not really a campaign, just locked arcade waves.

But if you can get Time Carnage on sale, and be prepared to spend a couple of hours pushing through the campaign mode, there is a lot of casual fun to come back to and it is a no-brainer purchase.

One thing that does surprise me though is if you search for reviews on Time Carnage PSVR, you get a lot of reviews with comments like ‘awful’ and ‘a complete waste of time’.  But look at the Steam page, and you see many people with the same ideas and opinions I have shared here.

Time Carnage isn’t revolutionary or groundbreaking, but it’s a lot of fun and isn’t that what you’re looking for in a game?

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  •  A lot of fun for casual play
  •  One of the better tracking PSVR games I have played
  •  Challenges are genuinely interesting on the whole

Cons

  •  Campaign mode is a campaign in name only
  •  Visually dark compared to PC versions