Time is a slippery weasel. I rarely stop to examine it, so most of the time it exists as a blur in the corner of my eye. When I do try to stop and really figure it out, it constantly slips away from me, twitching its little weasel whiskers as me before darting down into its little time cave.
That could be why I’m so fascinated with time mechanics in video games. It gives me the chance to control time like a record, scratching back and forth at will. Which is why I really enjoyed the superb puzzle game Stream.
Stream is a first-person platformer where your only controls are standard first-person controls and time-manipulation controls of rewind, forward and pause/play. You use these buttons to control time, which lets you control the movement of the platforms around you—most of them anyway. Any black pieces of the level are controlled by your time manipulation, but white pieces conveniently ignore your time shenanigans.
This is all paired with a stark, black and white palette that combines with the music to leave the world feeling oppressive and clinical. In many ways you are put into a time laboratory and you’re running experiments, trying to solve the puzzles through deduction and observation. It fits well with the puzzle genre. It also helps differentiate the moving platforms against the background.
Talking Points: Why is time manipulation such a natural fit for the puzzle genre? Are there any puzzle games where messing with time wouldn’t be awesome? Do the stark environments make the puzzles easier to solve?