Indie game Still Time bends time, twists logic

Ian Birnbaum at

If you thought Braid’s time-travel mechanics messed with your noggin, wait until you get a look at Still Time, a stylish indie platformer being kicked into shape by solo developer Alan Zucconi.

The minimalist art style looks simple, but little touches show how deep the art really goes. Dynamic lighting and filters turn simple backgrounds into deliberately low-key, complicated frames for gameplay. When players pause time, the screen bows outward to look like an old CRT monitor and vertical sync lapses make rewinding look like an artifact of the VHS era. When I spoke to him, Zucconi told me that the minimalist style pushes the player's focus away from the art.

"The minimalistic aspect was somehow necessary," he said. "I wanted the player to focus on puzzles, not on the graphics. In the last years there have been incredible improvements in the level of realism that games can achieve, but so few breakthrough in their actual gameplay. I wanted to create something experimental to realize exactly the opposite."

The implications for this kind of gameplay always give me a bit of a headache, but as seen in the trailer, players will team up with previous versions of themselves to solve puzzles and climb their way out of traps and past locked doors. A great electronic score runs over the top of the puzzles, lending the levels atmosphere and drive. At the end of each level, you’re shown a graph of completion times for that room so you can see how you stack up. I performed...well, let’s just say “poorly” and leave it there.

Still Time is currently in alpha with a playable version available, but be warned: that’s just a prototype. Early as it is, it shows the kind of temporal puzzling shenanigans that can prove equally frustrating and rewarding for players. Zucconi revels in the difficulty, saying "players have to remember that playing with multiple timelines can be messy! I promised headaches, and I wasn't lying!"

Check out Still Time’s website here and the rough but intriguing alpha is here