Time Carnage is a virtual reality-gallery shooter for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Playstation VR developed by Wales Interactive (Soul Axiom, The Bunker). The game sees you travel to various locations around Earth in one of four different centuries from the dinosaur infested jungles and canyons of 85,000,000 B.C. to the dystopian murder robot future of 6000 A.D.
A Tale As Old As Time
The main campaign in Time Carnage consists of 16 stages across 4 eras where you choose from a varied selection of guns to aid you in fighting off waves of enemies in each location. Clearing a level grants you new weapons which you can then use on any level you have unlocked as well as the Arcade and Challenge game modes. The only other notable game mechanic is the inclusion of Time Anomalies which randomly appear during some waves and act as a power up by slowing down the enemies for a short time. Arcade mode in Time Carnage adopts a wave survival structure instead of the set 10 wave limit of the campaign and also allows the player to use perks such as damage boosts or low gravity to modify the game play. Time Carnage also has a Challenge mode where you are given specific weapons and perks and tasked with killing a set number of enemies or surviving for a certain amount of time.
Guns, Lots of Guns
Time Carnage’s campaign gives you the option of 3 difficulties (Easy, Normal and Hard) and despite it’s basic game play and concepts I found it to be surprisingly difficult on the normal setting and especially tough to achieve even a bronze tier rating from the Challenges. It is alarmingly easy to find yourself over run in a matter of seconds as enemies flank you on both sides as well as fire down on you from the air. Success in these cases comes down to a combination of preparation, skill and luck. Perhaps the only thing that sets Time Carnage apart from the multitudes of other gallery shooters on VR platforms is how the weapons reload and how you select which gun to hold. Before you start a level, you are prompted to select which 4 weapons to take in with you, upon starting the stage your chosen weapons appear floating above pedestals around you. To pick up a gun you simply reach out and when your finger tips glow blue you can press the Move button on the top of your Move controller to grab the desired weapon. Similarly, to reload you press the Move button again and the gun will return to it’s pedestal and start to regenerate ammo. This is where preparation becomes important. Each gun has a unique damage output, magazine size, rate of fire and reload speed and finding the balance between a hard hitting weapon and one with a larger magazine or short reload speed can mean the difference between feeling like Rambo as you use both of your hands to shoot different targets at the same time or seeing the game over screen repeatedly. The reload system also lends the game a ‘spinning plates’ management system where carefully paying attention to how much ammo is in each gun and changing between them to cope with the situation can be either infuriating as you fumble to grab the right weapon or satisfying as you fend off attacks from every angle.
Back to the Fu…ck ups
While Time Carnage is a well put together game it does have it’s share of problems. Each area in the Campaign lasting for 10 waves means that stages go on for too long and since you do not move, the locations lose their wonder long before it’s time to see a new area. The four main types of enemies are also not very varied and largely consist of A.I. that just rush the player in a straight line or hover in the air above your head in irritating cyclic patterns. Added to this is the tendency for foes to blend into the dim backgrounds making them hard to spot until they’re already draining your shield. The most problematic issue in Time Carnage are the various bugs that litter the game. They happen just frequently enough that the already demanding challenges and later waves of some levels stop being enjoyable when you fail for something outside of your control. There were more than a few occasions where shots that clearly hit their target didn’t register or times where my bullets hit an invisible wall that seemed to randomly appear about a meter in front of me that led to me being over run.
I did still enjoy Time Carnage. It showcases what VR can do in an accessible way for people who may be new to the platform and are worried about motion sickness or as a game to just pick up and play for 10 minutes when you’re not in the mood for an hours long gaming session. The visuals are competent enough and the models of the guns are detailed and appear solid, the sound track has one or two good songs and the tracking works pretty reliably even when you’re trying to aim down sights (something PSVR is pretty bad at in general). If you’re looking for a more story or humour driven experience then maybe this isn’t the game for you since what little exposition exists is in the form of text cards on the stage select but for something to just mess around with it definitely has a few hours worth of entertainment.