In fact, Timeline Traveler has more in common with Tomorrow Corporation’s awesome Human Resource Machine than with Mario. While the aim is to help a little man navigate a series of stages, the method is pure puzzler.
The timeline of the title is an array of sliders in the bottom half of the screen. These sliders contain instructions, represented by symbols such as directional arrows, explosions, and so on.
To get your dude to the “finish” flag in each stage, you need to arrange these sliders into the correct sequence with the correct timings.
For instance, if you need him to run for a bit, and then jump, and then stop to avoid a hazard, and then run again, and finally jump onto a platform, you’ll need to place a right arrow, a left arrow, a right arrow, and an up arrow just so. Put a single one in the wrong place and your attempt will come to a grinding halt.
As you progress through Timeline Traveller’s four worlds and 48 stages you’ll acquire a steadily growing number of commands, and the stages themselves will become increasingly complex and challenging. You’ll encounter baddies, explodeable obstacles, magic portals, and more.
Plus, the commands are context-sensitive. Sometimes they apply to your grey hero, and sometimes they apply to NPCs or objects in the stages, such as doors and lifts. Experimentation is key.
Fortunately, Timeline Traveller is the sort of game that actively encourages experimentation, with no penalties for trying a stage over and over again, tweaking sliders and revising plans until you get it right. The stages get tougher as your instinct for sequencing develops in a perfectly pitched, highly gratifying feedback loop of gaming goodness.