No Time to Explain is a game that grabs you instantly.
Within seconds of the game beginning you’ll witness half of your home suddenly torn away before a man boldly jumps in, proclaiming he’s you from the future and that there’s no time to explain. Unlucky for him, he’s quickly snatched by a giant pair of pincers, leaving you with his laser blaster. As you leave what remains of your house, not quite sure what has just occurred, you begin to get accustomed to your new favourite toy, using it to blast alien lifeforms and boost yourself to new heights. It’s at that point you realise that you’re in for one hell of an enjoyable journey.
Part shooter, part puzzler, part platformer, No Time to Explain likes to keep you on your toes. Once you’ve got past the main menu it’s all just balls-to-the-wall action with no loading screens or pop-ups informing you that you’re now on level 3-4 or anything like that – and it’s all the better for it.
Levels are short, sharp and snappy which helps maintain a breakneck pace – unless of course you get flummoxed by one of the more puzzle-like levels, which fortunately doesn’t happen all too often. Your aim is to use whatever you’re armed with at that current point in time in order to reach the portal at the end of the stage, and upon travelling through the portal you are warped seamlessly to the next level. After around five or so levels you’ll encounter a boss, and for me, these were he highlight of the game. Wonderfully designed, these boss battles are an accomplished throwback to platform games of old, where you had to study their attack patterns to work out your strategy for defeating them. Your reward for beating the boss is a new portal opening up, leading you to a new set of levels in a whole new world, with new challenges to overcome.
Whilst the levels start out rather simple, with you using a laser blaster to reach unfathomable heights to negotiate your environment, they become much more fiendish as you progress and tackle new challenges with new characters. Whether it be a shotgun that catapults you backwards, or a straitjacket that allows you to slingshot yourself around the environment, you need to use your equipment and skills at hand to deal with each level; their puzzle-like nature frequently taxing the brain cells. For the most part it’s highly enjoyable, but there were a few times where it got a little too frustrating to be honest, and it also broke the pace of the game which is its strongest point.
Although it only occurred only once during my time with the game, the game’s save system also can annoy. Quitting part way through a set of levels sees you losing your progress, meaning that if you do get stuck or need to leave the game, you’ll have to start from the beginning of the world you got stuck on. Whilst this isn’t a big issue, as completing a world is usually easily done in around 20 minutes, it could be troublesome if you found yourself getting stuck frequently or needed to leave the game part way through a world.
The first time I booted up No Time to Explain I was blissfully unaware that I’d completed half the game before I pulled myself away from it – and that speaks volumes as to how enjoyable it is. The combination of its great hand-drawn art style and its addictive and action-packed gameplay creates an experience that is really pleasing on the eyes and also a hell of a lot of fun to play. It’s a game full of charm and humour that constantly hits the spot and raises a chuckle, but unfortunately some difficulty spikes during the last third of its levels let it down a little. Fans of quirky adventures will reap the most enjoyment from No Time to Explain‘s successful combination of genres to create an experience that feels fresh and unique, which is a great achievement in itself.