STAFF REVIEW of Time Loader (Xbox One)

Friday, March 11, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Time Loader Box art I’m always down for a light hearted puzzle game, especially one that centers around an adorable robot and puzzles that don’t frustrate me and force me to search online for solutions for obtuse solutions. Puzzle games usually focus heavily on its gameplay, sometimes forgetting to add a compelling narrative. Time Loader, developed by Flazm, manages to balance both a fun puzzler alongside an interesting narrative that centers around time travel set in the 90’s using a robot that resembles a distant cousin of Wall-E.

There’s something charming about controlling an adorable robot, a small little AI with four wheels and a robotic arm that can be used to push, pull and swing on objects. A young child named Adam is playing in his treehouse one day and ends up tripping on one of his toy cars, causing him to fall from quite a distance and forever being in a wheelchair since. Now as an adult, he figures a way to send his little robot back in time to the mid 90’s to try and stop that fateful event from ever happening, changing his future. Tasked with changing the past, this little robot has a ton of personality and its cute aesthetic makes for a chill vibe throughout.

Being back in your childhood home growing up, you’ll need to maneuver around obstacles on a 2D plane to your destinations from room to room, but to do so you’ll need to solve puzzles along the way to progress. Being a small little robot, your perspective is different than you’re used to, able to squeeze under low objects, through vents and other ways to traverse you normally wouldn’t think of in your home.

We all know that time travel is dangerous though. If you change the past, you change the future in other ways you couldn’t expect. There’s consequences for your choices and actions. What if saving Adam from the accident makes a more serious event occur? What if then fixing that problem makes the future worse for others as well? Messing with time is going to have serious complications once the Butterfly Effect kicks in. With multiple (and a secret) endings, there’s actually reasons to replay once you’ve seen credits roll, something you don’t see often in puzzle games.

Since the gameplay happens on a 2D plane, you’ll move your robot from left to right, jump over obstacles, and use your robotic arm to manipulate certain objects or grab onto specific points to swing across gaps. During your journey back in the 90’s, you’ll also come across various upgrades for your robot, like attaching a screwdriver or soldering iron which will be needed to progress further inside the home. Levels play out fairly linear, though there’s a handful of secret collectables to find for those wanting to explore every inch.

Puzzles in Time Loader are generally simple to figure out and I never got stuck more than a few minutes as I deducted what needed to be done. Most will have you needing to reach some sort of ledge or wedge something in a specific spot to cross a gap. The most struggles I ran into weren’t actually the puzzles themselves, but simply determining what I could travel under or through without trying since certain objects blend into the background or foreground at times. Some of the puzzles become a little more complex near the end, but nothing that had me searching online for a solution and always kept itself light hearted.

Given its 90’s backdrop you can expect to see references, objects and more from the era. I smirked every time I got that nostalgia drop. Seeing a DeLorean, a Super Nintendo, a Playstation One, VHS tapes, a Gameboy and more brought me back to my own upbringing. There’s plenty of smaller details and the overall aesthetic simply has that 90’s look and color tones to it. While the visuals won’t impress, it does the job for the task at hand for a short quirky little puzzle game. The soundtrack has a great instrumental mellow tone and the voice work from the robot is cute even if infrequent.

Time Loader never overstays its welcome, able to be completed in a single sitting within a few hours if you wish, though with multiple endings based on some of your choices, it’s worth playing through again simply to spend more time within its charming world.

I was quite fond of the physics based puzzles that never became frustrating, but became actually invested at trying to save Adam from a lifetime in a wheelchair, attempting to change the past and hoping it wouldn’t make things worse in the new present. Puzzles are fun to complete and the story gives you enough motivation to see it to completion. Time Loader may be short but sweet, but I’m glad to have taken the trip back in time to the 90’s, just like how I remember it.

**Time Loader was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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