Time Kufc is the latest platform puzzle game from Edmund McMillen, whose previous works (Meatboy and Spewer) made us rethink the way we view 2D platformers. Meatboy focused on pixel-perfect wall jumping around obstacles. Spewer presented a character that propelled itself between platforms and over spikes by projectile vomiting. What does Time Kufc bring to the originality table? Multi-dimensional planes.
Time Kufc starts out simple enough. Jump with the [D] key to get to the gate. Then you are introduced to the plane. By pressing the [A] key you can switch planes and alter what is visible on the screen. Sometimes you can see the other planes while you are occupying the current one, but you can't see what overlaps between planes. This creates an interesting dynamic that involves a lot of guessing with your jumps, especially when he throws in movable blocks, which can be picked up by pressing the [S] key.
As with the rest of his games, McMillan includes a level editor with which you can easily access hundreds of user-generated levels ranging from not so interesting to awesome and easy to the most difficult thing you have ever attempted in your life. Seriously. The original Mega Man doesn't hold a candle to many of the hardest levels. Also implemented is the Newgrounds' medal system that keeps you coming back for more as well.
Analysis: The difficulty curve is moderate, and for a good part of the game you are interacting with only two planes at a time. Then the difficulty spikes suddenly, which may scare off some players. You will learn to quickly memorize and navigate five planes with trigger switches that flip the current plane (creating the mirror image), as well as switches that rotate all planes at once. And once you find yourself using movable blocks from one plane to break down walls in another, be prepared to spend a lot of time thinking about a single level.
Time Kufc makes up for the sudden difficulty spike by letting you skip two levels throughout the game by "sleeping". The story is minimal ("I'm the future you. If you want to live, get in the box."), but your future you keeps you entertained by talking to you from the sidelines as you are completing each challenge. The music gets annoying after a while, but you can turn that off in-game. Unfortunately, however, you cannot turn off the annoying voices during the cut-scenes.
While not the team's best work, it is definitely a fantastic Flash game that deserves to be given a chance. C'mon. Just get in the box.
Ed McMillen has earned a dual reputation for being both a creator of excellent games, and for being somewhat of a bad boy in the indie game world. Time Kufc does an excellent job of reinforcing both images, providing a solid platform based puzzler as well as some controversy as evidenced in our very own comments section below.
At its heart, Time Kufc is more puzzler than platformer with the primary challenges coming from figuring out how to navigate the increasingly complex rooms as opposed to actually doing it (don't get me wrong, your dexterity will be put to the test here and there, just perhaps not as much as your mental dexterity). This is easily Time's strongest point as McMillen And partner William Good did a remarkable job coming up with an innovative gameplay mechanic and then using that mechanic to explore a broad spectrum of creativity in level design. The actuation of the muli-plane concept is beautifully done creating an effect that is not unlike weaving together loose individual strands into a single, strong, braid. Preserving this effect wonderfully is a control scheme that is tight and responsive.
Unfortunately Time Kufc suffers from a heavy dose of feeling like it's been done before. There are so many aspects involved here that are familiar to other games that the deja vu is liable to be vertigo-inducing unless you are a newcomer to independent games. The floating head off to the right of the screen that continually spouts strange non-sequiturs is a fairly common convention seen in big name productions such as Metal Gear Solid 2 as well as obscure abstract indie titles such as Cactus's Mondo games or Falling Forever. It also brings to mind the darkly humorous voice in the Shift series. The similarities to Shift don't stop with the abstract voice, though, and continue on into certain aspects of presentation (ie. simplified dual-chromatic presentation), and gameplay (for instance the gravity changing switches).
But even where Time Kufc borrows off of other games to some degree, we find a happy conclusion to be made. These conventions aren't really conventions at all. From telling a story in a non-conventional fashion to challenging the boundaries and physics of the in-game world, Time Kufc stands as another game that explores both internally and externally the traditional standards of video games. If testing and breaking the norm is to become the norm, well, that's a good problem to have. In the meantime, Steve is getting impatient so I better get back to it.