Timemelters Review – A Magical Melting Pot of Genres

4.5

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Timemelters

Publisher: Autoexec Games

Developer: Autoexec Games

Genre: Action, Strategy

Release Date: February 28th, 2024

Timemelters by Autoexec Games

Timemelters is quite the blend of genres: a third-person action game hybridized with tower defense tactics and time-bending puzzling.

This is all grounded in a whimsical fantasy world with charming visual choices that evoke the style of Fable. Built by a team of just three people and bursting with innovative ideas, Timemelters promises a unique experience.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

The main campaign of Timemelters feels like a throwback to the packed adventure games of the early 2000s; rich with world-building and engaging characters, this might be a game about tactics and puzzle-solving but clearly great effort has gone into the narrative. The protagonist is Teagan, a young woman with a magical heritage who begins her adventure bound to a pyre, set to be burned as a witch.

Things soon take an interesting turn when she’s spared from her plight by an attack on her village; crazed beasts serving a nefarious evil swarm into the area. Unfortunately, the attack also claims the life of her brother, and so, armed with new magical powers and introduced to a world of timeline manipulation, she sets out on a quest to save him.

The story is fantastic, and while the game often slows its pace to introduce new characters or develop its world, this is always a welcome diversion.

That said, it’s the innovative mechanics that really shine here. At its heart, Timemelters is an action/tower-defense hybrid in the vein of Orcs Must Die, but that’s just the surface of its many layers.

Time on Your Side

The flagship feature in Timemelters is the ability to rewind time to the start of a level while leaving an echo of your previous actions to play out.

These echoes will always act exactly as you did before, but you can cause enemies to behave differently by interfering with the established timeline. Enemies doomed to be slain by one of your previous selves are marked with an “X,” while any that are acting differently because of the actions of a newer iteration of Teagan are labelled with an exclamation point.

This whole system is superb; ever since I saw the ability to record matches in Halo many years ago I thought this kind of technology was begging to be used in a time-meddling setting, and it is executed brilliantly here.

I still think there is room to iterate on these ideas; it would be fascinating to have tactically programmable AI take over whenever an older echo of yourself is affected by your current actions, for example, allowing for fully manipulatable timelines.

But I’m being greedy. Timemelters has demonstrated that this technology has some incredible applications for innovative game design.

Spellbinding and Spellbound

Timeline shenanigans are combined with various other abilities to help control the flow of battle: a teleport marker can be placed for a quick retreat, trees can be imbued with spirits to fight nearby enemies, a tactical map is available for an overview of the entire level, and a wide selection of spells are at Teagan’s fingertips for dispatching her enemies.

Like the story and world-building, these abilities and upgrades keep coming as the campaign rolls on. Timemelters is a full three-course meal of a game.

Timemelters also packs a diverse array of environments, from snowy valleys to serene woodland rivers. All are rendered beautifully and backed with catchy music that captures the atmosphere of each mission well.

The characters are also varied and feature memorable designs such as Amannan, one of the titular Timemelters, a half-bear/half-man creature that makes for a likeable ally.

The Verdict

Timemelters is a melting pot of fantastic ideas, from the innovative application of timeline manipulation to the engaging mix of puzzle-solving, action, and tactics.

The quaint fantasy aesthetic ties this all into a beautiful world filled with charming characters and nefarious villains to meet throughout the substantial campaign.

Timemelters offers challenges, cooperative mode, an extended narrative campaign, and more to round out its longevity. Anyone looking for a robust fantasy adventure wrapped in some genuinely groundbreaking game design should definitely check this out.

Timemelters is available via Steam.

Read our developers interview with Autoexec, the studio behind Timemelters.

Watch the trailer for Timemelters below: