TL;DR(eview) - Super Time Force Ultra is an enjoyable and highly inventive addition to the shoot 'em up genre. A wide array of characters allows for an abundance of replayability through the game's levels, even if those levels are somewhat limited in number.
For my first game post-Metal Gear hiatus, I chose to dive into Super Time Force Ultra by CAPY Games. I remember first learning about this game about a year ago, probably around the time it went it was re-released on Steam as Super Time Force Ultra (instead of the Xbox Super Time Force versions) with Windows-exclusive characters. I found the concept so intriguing at the time I nearly picked it up for my Xbox One since I just lean more toward console. I think I ran into some issues trying to find it on the store though so I never ended up getting it.
Fast-forward to last year's PlayStation Experience where, during the Keynote, it was announced that Super Time Force Ultra would be coming to PlayStation with Shuhei Yoshida as an exclusive character. "That should be fun," I thought. So it was back on my radar. I even played it for a bit on the floor at PSX. Having never played though, I had zero idea what I was doing when just dropped into a random level so I ended up walking away with an "I'll have to pick that up again later, I guess" attitude.
Fast-forward again to last weekend. I had picked up the game in September as a PlayStation Plus offering and finally pulled myself away from Metal Gear to give it some time. The basic premise of the game: someone discovers time travel and (as would be the actual most likely scenario) that immediately screws up the world. You play as various members of the Super Time Force with a minute to get through each baddie-filled level. But because time travel, you can repeatedly rewind time and have multiple characters (or multiple versions of the same character) running around the level simultaneously. Is it taking too long to get through that boss fight? Rewind time and add in another character to effectively double the damage you're doing and kill it twice as fast. Repeat as needed.
Another interesting mechanic can occur if one of you later iterations prevents an earlier one from dying (character #4 killing the bad guy before he could kill character #1 for example). In these instances you can run your character into the saved character. This allows two stackable bonuses. First, absorbing this team member from the past gives your current team member an extra hit, allowing him, her, or it to survive the usual one-hit death before forcing a time reset. Second, the other character's powered up special attack is combined with your existing character. So you can strategically die in the same spot a few times with different characters, rewind time, kill the enemy who offed those characters beforehand, power up your new character by absorbing all the previous ones, then wreck shop for the next part of the stage. Similarly, this mechanic is how many of the extraneous characters in the game are unlocked: save them in their level before something kills them.
Inherent in these inventive mechanics is the fact that sometimes it is very easy to be confused and lose track of everything that's happening on the screen. But there's also an elegant beauty in the chaos, especially when viewing the post-mission replay with everything happening at once in real time. For one particular boss fight, I had about 20-plus copies of Shuhei Yoshida hopping around the stage, shooting tweets from all directions.
My other notable shortcoming on the game is the lack of levels. The game has you fight through six areas, each with two to three stages plus a boss stage, and a seventh boss area after completing the other six. Though limited in number, there are at least some level varieties thrown in including some escort-type missions (where you have to protect something while you proceed through the level) and some jetpack levels (where the simple design change for a vertical level instead of a horizontal one makes for some challenging new twists).
Super Time Force Ultra is available now on Steam, PlayStation 4/Vita, and Xbox One/Xbox 360.
More information can be found here.