No Time To Explain Review (XONE)

NTTE screen 1
NTTE screen 1. tinyBuild Games

No Time To Explain has been available elsewhere for a while now, but brings it's unique blend of humor and weapons-based movement (you'll see) to Xbox One with a new trick or two.  On one hand, it's yet another super hardcore 2D indie platformer that is difficult just for the sake of being difficult, but on the other hand, there's time travel and giant crabs and hats and stuff.  As much as we love the quirkiness, though, is it actually fun to play?

  Well ... Our full review has all of the details.  

Game Details

  • Publisher:  tinyBuild Games
  • Developer: tinyBuild Games
  • ESRB Rating: “T" For Teen
  • Genre: 2D Platforming
  • Price: $14.99
  • Pros:  Quirky story; clean presentation; co-op
  • Cons:  Uneven difficulty; controls aren't precise enough; awful boss fights

No Time To Explain starts out with your character from the future busting into the house of your character in the present before exclaiming "I am you from the future.  There's no time to explain.  Follow me to ...", at which point future you is carried off by a giant crab.  Why is this happening?  What is this mysterious beam weapon future you dropped?  What's the deal with the crab?  And aliens?  And sharks?  There's no time to explain.  Just go.


No Time To Explain is a 2D platformer where you have to navigate trap-filled levels using different weapons you find to actually move around by shooting into the ground to propel yourself forward at different angles.

  You start with a beam weapon that acts as sort of a jet pack.  Then a shotgun.  And eventually move on to crazier means of travel.  The game regularly gives you new toys to play with, and you have to figure out how to use them to traverse the levels and ultimately fight a boss.  The levels are generally small with only one real platforming puzzle to solve before you hop into a time portal to move onto the next one.

The controls on Xbox One have (for the beam weapon, for example) the left stick moving you, the right stick shooting your weapon in whatever angle you want, and a jump button to give you a little hop to start your momentum before you use the beam.  It handles okay.

The game is difficult, though.  Like, crazy insane stupid difficult.  You will die hundreds upon hundreds of times in the several hours it takes to finish the game.  You always respawn on the last solid ground you stood on, so you don't ever lose too much progress when you die, but some sections can be incredibly frustrating.  The platforming is simple enough, though, that you can figure things out with a little patience.  You might die a dozen times, but you'll figure out the right angle to aim your weapon and where you need to jump and what you need to do to navigate through the various hazards. 

Where the game sort of falls apart, however, is with the boss fights that punctuate the end of each section of the game.  The bosses suck simply because the same weapon you're supposed to be killing them with is also your means of transportation, and balancing weapon use to get an attack in while also being able to dodge and move around is not something the game does particularly well.

  The bosses were seemingly designed simply to be unfair, and the fights always take place in the most awkward possible areas where just trying to avoid insta-death environmental hazards occupy your attention and effort as much as the rampaging boss does.  The game is already difficult just from the platforming.  Adding in these bosses is just maddening.

That really is the ultimate problem with No Time To Explain - it isn't really all that fun.  There are lots of 2D platformer indie games out there that are just as frustrating and difficult, but the good ones always have very precise inputs where you always feel in control and know that your hundreds of deaths are mostly your fault (Ori and the Blind Forest or The Swapper come to mind).  No Time To Explain doesn't feel that way.  Because of the very nature of the game with so much going on that affects your movement - momentum, gravity, the angle of your weapon blast, how much power you have left, etc. - you never feel fully in control and success or failure are more based on luck and randomness than your own skill or precision.  Toss in boss fights that require far more precision than the game can realistically give you, and the fun really grinds to a halt.  Are the bosses impossibly difficult?  Of course not.  You can beat the game if you put in enough time and effort.  It just isn't very fun.


With that said, a new feature on the Xbox One version of the game is the ability to play four player local co-op, and this actually does make the game a little better.  The boss fights definitely work better with more people blasting away and the coopetition between friends pushing each other off of ledges and doing silly stuff can be pretty funny and entertaining for a while.  It also gives you a good opportunity to make use of the dance button.  Yes, there's a button dedicated to busting out sweet dance moves.

Graphics & Sound

The presentation is nice and clean and simple and works well.  The graphics are clear and colorful and you can almost always tell exactly what is going on and where to go with a quick glance.  Likewise, the sound is nice with some catchy music and well done sound effects for the weapons. 

Bottom Line

No Time To Explain isn't a bad game, but it doesn't do enough to really stand out in the increasingly crowded genre of hardcore 2D indie uber-difficult platformers.  It doesn't play well enough to be satisfying enough to keep you coming back through all of the frustration it throws at you.  These type of games are fun because they give you a sense of satisfaction because you had to earn every step you take through skill.  You don't feel that often enough with No Time To Explain.  Instead it feels like things are out of your control which, combined with the difficulty, leads only to frustration instead of satisfaction.  The concept is cool and the story is all quirky and weird, but it just isn't fun to play.  Co-op can be fun if you want to spend an evening with particularly masochistic friends, but it is hard to recommend otherwise.   

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