by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
No Explanations Necessary
You’re just minding your own business, dancing in front of the television at home, when the wall suddenly explodes for no reason. After the smoke clears, a man in a red jumpsuit appears wielding what looks to be a cannon. Before he can say much, a giant crab claw grabs him and proceeds to mangle his body while retreating. Grabbing the cannon, which you quickly discover to be a laser weapon that can function like a jetpack, you chase after them, jumping through space-time portals that lead to one obstacle after another. You eventually catch up to the giant crab monster, only to have it beamed up into a massive UFO that proceeds to fire lasers and rockets at you.
If you don’t understand what I just wrote, you’re in good company, as I have no clue what’s going on either. What I do know is that the preceding paragraph pretty much covers the first 90 seconds of No Time to Explain. If you or someone you know understands this, than they are very likely operating on another plane of existence. For everyone else, welcome to the insanity that is No Time to Explain.
Trying to Explain Nevertheless
As the title clearly states, No Time to Explain does not attempt in any shape or form to explain or at least give background to the large amounts of insanity that are onscreen. Fortunately, I’ve managed to compile a few notes during my playthrough that can help alleviate some of the confusion.
No Time to Explain is essentially an action-platformer, in the sense that there are various platforms where some sort of action occurs. You have a jetpack gun, which can be used both as a jetpack and as a gun, depending on the current situation and your goal is to find the space-time portal at the end of each level, which leads you to another level whereby you repeat the beginning of this sentence over again until a new thing replaces it.
Time travel and alternate realities are really, really confusing and attempts to understand either are about as useful as combining football players and muffin men into one organism (Both of which are present in the game at the same time). Therefore, any attempts to understand this game are futile. Also, why do the pterodactyls have jet engines built into them? Did some mad scientist create them, or is evolution trying really hard to screw us over?
...On second thought those notes don’t help that much. In any case, No Time to Explain is insane, so just go along with it.
Just go with the Flow
At its core, the gameplay revolves around navigating each obstacle filled level to reach the end. Your jetpack gun works well in navigating the tight and enclosed spaces that often appear. That still won’t prevent you from dying regularly, but at the very least No Time to Explain has instant respawn. Hit a collection of spikes? Less than a second later you’ll be back on the last patch of solid ground you touched. It makes for fast and quirky gameplay, whereby you constantly die and respawn in order to navigate the level.
Part of the joy in playing the game is to witness, with increasing incredulity, the various levels and environments that have been developed. Shortly after you finish up with the previously mentioned UFO, a giant shark appears to take the new future version of yourself away. There’s a side scrolling level where you fight airborne laser shooting T-Rex not long after. Later on, you enter a reality where everything is made of candy and you have to eat cake in order to become fat enough to smash through walls. You can’t complain for a lack of variety, as the mechanics switch alongside the levels. Getting too comfortable will result in death, I guarantee it.
You should also be prepared to become comfortable with frustration, which will enter into your life repeatedly throughout No Time to Explain. The controls are not precise, and you can expect success to be based more on luck than your skill level. This results in there being levels – particularly in the latter half of the game – where I wanted to defenestrate my computer as a result of the sheer difficulty in the controls and level design. It’s fun to die multiple times in a level in under a minute before completion, but to spend nearly ten minutes on one level due to the lack of precision is anger inducing to say the least.
But none of that compares to the frequent boss fights which pepper No Time to Explain. From now on, I’ll be using this game to show others how not to design boss fights. Horrifically designed would be a nice way to put it. Whereas most of the other levels have you instant respawn upon death, the boss fights have you start over at the beginning. As the title of the game clearly states, there is no time to explain the mechanics behind anything, and you’re left with wondering how the hell you're going to defeat a boss. This combination destroys the fast paced gameplay which was present before the boss, and you will die often as you struggle to get past it. In particular, there is a boss halfway through the game that is so glitchy that I had to restart the game in order to get the fight to work properly. Bug free, this game isn’t.
Surrounding this are a few minor quibbles. Bugs do occur with some frequency in the game, teleporting you outside the level or not recording when you have actually hit a hazard. And fullscreen mode causes considerable lag, no matter what kind of computer you are using. Windowed mode fixes the problem, but the controls lose even more precision as a result. Bad choices either way, so pick your sin.
A mixed bag
No Time to Explain is insanity at its finest and funniest, with plenty of ludicrous scenes throughout the game. But the fun and fast paced gameplay is brought down by imprecise controls and hideous boss fights designed to test your patience. There’s a good game somewhere in here, it’s just a shame that I have to suffer to find it.
Fun, funny and great to play when it moves fast
Poor controls, horribly designed boss fights, minor bugs