games / Columns

The Top 8 Time Travel Video Games

August 25, 2021 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Life is Strange

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. My topic was supposed to be best games from various franchises as made mention in the comments from two weeks ago but since you’re all lazy slackers, and none of you actually did that, I’m here with Time Travel games instead. It’s a bit apt since Twelve Minutes just came out and The Forgotten City has been out for about a month or so. I haven’t played every game with Time Travel, so stuff like Outer Wilds or No Time isn’t mentioned here. Still, let’s begin:

#8: Titanfall 2

From a “game” point of view, Titanfall 2 is amazing and everyone should play it. It’s only low on this list because the actual time travel part exists on one level. It’s a really neat mechanic where you travel between a destroyed research base and then go to before it was destroyed, alternating times with the press of a button. Once the level is done though, your device breaks and it is like “Eh, I guess that part is over?” There’s another game called “Gemini: Heroes Reborn”, based on the Heroes franchise, which greatly expands on this concept, even though the game came out months before Titanfall 2 did. It is, however, not a great game overall, that’s why it didn’t quite make this list.

#7: Blinx: The Time Sweeper

Hey kids, remember something called a “VCR”? You could put this black tape inside of it and play, rewind, fast forward and even record stuff onto it, to play back later. This is basically the summation of Blinx: The Time Sweeper. Blinx was an average platformer but you had time powers, due to your vacuum cleaner on your back, and your mission was to fix the timeline from evil pigs. Outside of the time stuff, it was a very bog standard platformer, but the gimmicks did elevate the game somewhat and made some good use of the original Xbox’s hard drive.

#6: Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger’s whole point is traveling from different eras in an attempt to stop Lavos from destroying the world. You go from prehistoric times to literally the end of time in your overall quest to stop Lavos or to prevent his summoning. Initially, the game is fairly linear, but it does eventually open up and gets a whole lot more interesting. I would actually consider Final Fantasy 13-2 a spiritual sequel to Chrono Trigger with how it handles time travel and going from different places, and seeing how things can change.

#5: The Forgotten City

Having just recently played and beat this, I rather dug the nature of how it handles time travel. You’re basically caught in a time loop and when things go bad, you have to run to this one building for the loop to reset itself. You can also do more cause and effect stuff, like stealing an antidote for a poison, resetting the loop and then preventing someone from dying by giving them the antidote you just stole. The game is slightly janky because of its nature, but it does have an interesting story and good characters.

#4: Singularity

Singularity is like a good version of that Heroes game that I mentioned above, or a fully blown-out version of the level from Titanfall 2. You have a “TMD”, Time Manipulation Device, which you can use to stun or kill enemies, slow them down or age them. You can also use it to effect the game world, like repairing a destroyed bridge and the like. The game is pretty interesting because every time you change the past the present day world just gets more and more dystopian. It also has some pretty varied multiple endings, depending on who you want to side with.

#3: Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason

It really surprised me when Return of the Obra Dinn came out. Not that it’s a bad game or anything but it just seemed highly derivative of another game, just with a worse art style. Cryostasis is Obra Dinn, just if it was made by crazy Russians from 10 years ago. You play a Russian meteorologist who was supposed to be picked up from the North Pole to return home, only you find the military ship filled with monsters, the crew dead and it having been stuck there for 15 years. Like with Obra Dinn, you can enter the memories of certain people to find out how they died but the difference is that you have the capacity to alter events as you possess them. So if a crewmember is dead from a pipe injuring him, you can go back in time and move out of the way, and thus, the person is saved. It also has some more horror/survival elements to it, which may/may not appeal to some people, but I still found it a great and underappreciated game.

#2: Life is Strange

Time travel was one of the big hooks in the first Life is Strange and it was used well. You could rewind time to a certain degree as Max, letting you ask certain questions of people, break into places, and stop events from happening, like a student killing herself, with your powers. There is a more overarching mystery about what happened to the disappearance of a teenage girl in the game, but I just liked how it wasn’t the overriding thing, at least for most of it, and how it was about Max and her friend Chloe reconnecting. I also dug that there were more mundane things for you to do with your powers, like stopping birds from dying from flying into windows, or saving a random person’s life during a tornado.

#1: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Majora’s Mask is basically The Forgotten City if it had an actual good journal system. Aside from being a pretty good Zelda game, what I like about Majora’s Mask is how regimented the game is and how you can keep track of it all. So you can always know that Anju might be in the east side of town from 9 to 1, or the mailman will be doing his rounds from 12 to 8 (just making up examples here). This lets you plan out what you need to do for your run in order to progress a character’s side story and to make more progress in the game. Plus, the mask system makes the game fairly unique when it comes to normal Zelda games.

For comments, list which Time Travel games you like and why.

Also, list your favorite franchises. It’s part of the next topic.

Next Issue
Top 8 Games in Franchises, submitted in the comments