Platformer games have a special type of challenge that makes them so satisfying to play. A single clever mechanic can breath new life into what would otherwise be familiar territory. No Time To Explain‘s smart idea is its use of a laser gun as your primary means of getting around. Your character can jump, but you will quickly learn that you need to launch yourself by shooting the ground to be able to progress past even the first obstacle. And like the best examples in the genre, it makes excellent use of this single mechanic, teaching the player how to use it in different ways. With simple and easy to understand controls, punishing but fair stage design, No Time To Explain makes for an enjoyable experience.
One day while “dancing” in your house, a mysterious person crashes through your wall, claims that he is your future self, and there is no time to explain. Immediately following he is attacked by a giant crab and is dragged away, you pick up “your” gun and give chase. Your goal in all non-boss stages is to simply reach the blue portal. While walking and jumping are simple enough, getting anywhere will force you to fire your gun to project yourself where you need to go. You fire wherever you click, so its easy to aim, but not quite as simple to get the kind of momentum you want. Shooting the ground will launch you airborne, and shooting sideways mid-air will adjust your trajectory. this is your basic means of movement and everything will require you to shoot something to change the direction your character moves.
Keeping with the title, the game doesn’t feel it has time to explain the controls to you, and I fumbled my way through the first few worlds before I really felt I had a strong grasp of the movement. I don’t mean to imply the game is frustrating however, dying only sets you back to the last place your character stood before they died, allowing you re-attempt that jump again and again without losing time. However, the flip side to this is everything is a one-shot-kill, and some of the stages are downright punishing. All the stages are relatively short, their length coming from the difficulty more than anything else. But the game encourages you to try again.
You navigate themed worlds made up of several stages, culminating is rather satisfying boss battles. Each world will teach you how to use your abilities in a different way, increasing the complexity slowly until it gets really precise and difficult. Boss stages follow the same logic, learning how to dodge its attacks and land hits. Bosses also represent the entirety of combat in this game, as regular stages feature only traps and obstacles, and no enemies. A few gimmick stages are thrown in between the more standard world. My personal favorite was a world where your gun was replaced with one that sent you flying like a human cannonball when you shot.
Unfortunately, No Time To Explain isn’t the prettiest game. It runs well and doesn’t look bad necessarily, but it’s clear that mechanics and stage design were the priority. The sound effects are very fitting; you can feel you guns powerful momentum communicated with the noise it makes. You can hunt and collect a huge number of cosmetic hats, giving a bit of replayability to a somewhat short game. Short isn’t a bad word here, as this game accomplishes exactly what it set out to do.
No Time To Explain is a fun little platformer with an interesting movement mechanic. It teaches you to use a single action in several different ways while maintaining its simplicity. If you enjoy quirky side-scrollers it is will worth your time.
tinyBuild provided Controller Crusade with a copy of the game for review. The Steam version was reviewed.