There are many games that attempt to fulfill the fantasy of bullet time presented in The Matrix, but only a few that get it right. Retimed takes a more arcade-y approach to this idea. You and up to three friends hop around a 2D arena while trying to shoot everyone else while avoiding being shot yourself. It’s a concept that’s certainly been done before, Towerfall and Duck Game come to mind, but bullet time adds that extra spice to keep the tried and true idea fresh.
The way the bullet time mechanic works is executed surprisingly well. Instead of everything and everyone slowing down while you dodge, a small bubble of slowed time forms around you just before you get hit. This adds a nice extra layer of chaotic strategy for all involved. Players outside of the circle can shoot even more into the circle to make it harder to dodge, and the player inside the sphere can take their time to position themselves into an advantageous position or aim their next shot. Jumping, shooting and dodging isn’t all you’ll be doing, however, you can duck while moving to slide and spend a bullet to dash in any direction. Did I mention that ammo is limited? When you run out, you’ll have to make your way to one of the ammo crates around the arena which refresh on a short timer, and if all the ammo crates are recharging, you’ll be defenseless.
Some stages also have their own gimmicks with which to contend: some have spikes on the ceiling that you can shoot down and use to catch your foes unaware, or my personal favorite, having portals that connect two disparate parts of the map. There’s a lot to pay attention to here, but the game neither expects nor wants you to grasp all of it. It’s meant to be chaotic fun with friends, and it is indeed a lot of fun in local multiplayer. The game also offers two more ways to play: single player, and online play. In single player, you’ll play in the same arenas as multiplayer against robot enemies. It’s not particularly interesting, and it feels like the robots cheat by being able to move and shoot through the platforms, so it’s not really worth playing. The online could offer a similar amount of fun to the local multiplayer, but the community around the game seems dead, on PC at least, and I couldn’t find a single match.
With regards to the visuals, the game looks like a 1990’s cartoon. It’s colorful and vibrant, with weird character designs. The characters aren’t as expressive as cartoons of old though so it feels like they don’t have the personalities they seem to be designed to, they’re just different colored vehicles for the gameplay. Personally, I just don’t like these designs, so I usually played as the least weird purple character. This cartoony style does make the game screen very easy to read and comprehend. Bullets are color-coded to the character who fired them and when you die your remains move to where you’ll respawn so you can always keep track of where you are.
You’ve probably seen or played a game like Retimed, but the new mechanics it does bring to the table keep it interesting even among its contemporaries. While the single player is not fun or interesting and the online player base is non-existent, if you’re looking for a new game to play with friends or at a party, Retimed is a good option.