If countless books, TV shows, and films have taught us anything over the years, it’s that you do not mess about with time. It’s a tricky and ultimately unknowable constant.
Seriously, you could end up killing your dad, destroying the world, or (in a worst case scenario) accidentally give your mum the hots for you. Nobody needs that kind of trouble. Still, if videogames have taught us anything, it’s usually that we should disregard whatever other forms of media have taught us, because we’ll have much more fun that way.
To celebrate the release of Quantum Break, here are seven more games that actively invite you to muck around with time travel for your own amusement.
Braid is a delightful indie platformer that offers up some genuinely mind boggling puzzles by inviting you to mess with time.
The non linear conundrums on display in Braid are impeccably designed, elaborate, and oh so satisfying to master. It might look like your standard platform adventure on first glance, but the time travel mechanics offer something much deeper.
While it is admittedly a little short, it more than makes up for that with its expansive ideas – there really isn’t anything else like Braid out there.
Dishonored is a cracking game, but as anyone who’s played it can attest, it’s not really about time travel. And when I say not really, I mean not at all.
Still, main character Corvo has a load of cool abilities to use when taking on enemies, and one of them allows him to manipulate time. Slowing down time to a crawl so that you can get the drop on your foes always feels like a baller move.
With skills like these, you’ll never become past tense (that was awful, sorry).
Back to the Future: The Game
A Back to the Future game? Set after the movie trilogy? With Christopher Lloyd reprising his role as Doc Brown? Heck yes.
Another great episodic point and click epic from Telltale Games, this take on Back to the Future feels like it could easily have been the fourth film in the series – and I can think of no higher praise than that.
Sadly, Michael J Fox only appeared in the last two episodes in a cameo capacity, but the guy who voices Marty does a pretty amazing job.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time
Ratchet & Clank games are always great fun. A Crack in Time offers the same old tried and tested 3D platformer gameplay, but offers a cheeky time travel twist.
A new item called the Chronosceptor leads to all kinds of new gameplay possibilities. One of the more interesting puzzle mechanics is the “timepad”, on which four copies of Clank can be recorded at a time, and then used to help overcome obstacles. Sneaky.
For my money, Crack in Time is probably one of the best Ratchet & Clank games out there. Great puzzles, fun mechanics, excellent combat, and the same old gameplay that we all know and love. Crackin Time, more like. Right? RIGHT?
Day of the Tentacle
Day of the Tentacle is another brilliantly mad point and click gem from LucasArts. The game follows three characters as they attempt to stop an evil purple tentacle from taking over the world.
Naturally, they use time travel to help them do this. Initially, your three heroes are stranded across different time periods, meaning you were actively encouraged to alter the time stream in order to solve puzzles.
The game was recently remastered, and I urge you to check it out. It’s completely mental, and never anything less than hilarious.
Timesplitters 2 is fantastic, mad, multiplayer fun that takes the concept of time travel and runs wild it.
Essentially, each level sees you causing chaos through a different time period. The idea is obviously incredibly simple, but from a gameplay perspective it constantly keeps the game feeling fresh by throwing up radically different environments at every turn.
Sure, the time travel isn’t exactly central to the gameplay itself – but it acts as a gateway to some fantastic levels, and hours of split screen multiplayer shenanigans.
It’d be remiss of me to not give a shout out to Chrono Trigger. Since its release in 1995, it’s remained a firm fan favourite RPG – it just so happens to have time travel as its central premise.
The sheer number of ways Chrono Trigger invites you to muck about with time travel is dizzying, especially for a 20 year old game. Your gang can use their time machine for all kinds of cool crap – anything from saving a certain character from losing their legs, to waiting for certain treasures to age and become more valuable.
Many RPG’s of the time were known for having some pretty dull generic locations. Your standard genre villages and forests were suddenly given a whole new lease on life thanks to Chrono Trigger’s timey wimey perspective.
Life Is Strange
Life is Strange is a game that goes to great lengths to remind you that you can’t always escape the consequences – even if you do have the ability to manipulate time.
In this wonderful indie effort, you can rewind time to affect the outcome of a previous conversation or action. What makes Life is Strange stand out, is that you still have no idea what the outcome of your actions will eventually be. Even if you think you’ve changed something for the better in the short term, it could come back to haunt you in the longer term.
Every other game on this list encourages you to screw around with time – and that’s great – but Life is Strange gets a mention for reminding us that sometimes, do overs aren’t the best option, and we should make the most of the situation we’re in. Real life lesson: 10/10.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Almost every Zelda title features time travel shenanigans of some kind, but Majora’s Mask does it better than any other. Not only can you slow down time, speed up time, and zip back and forth over a three day period, the game constantly forces you to think about your power before using it.
The moon is gonna crash into the Earth in three days (standard). Link has 72 hours to do as much as he can before going back to the start of the three day cycle, and only retains key items and knowledge every time he does so. Relationships forged with NPC’s and sidequests will all be undone, so you’ll need to work out how to make the most out of every three day cycle.
For real though, there are some brilliant NPCs in this game. Helping them out and earning their friendship in one go, only to have them not recognise you at all on another go through is a cold blooded move on Nintendo’s part.
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
If you haven’t played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, you need to stop reading now and go play it, because it’s bloody awesome.
Sands of Time basically employed the acrobatic fun of Assassin’s Creed and the free flowing combat of the Arkham games years before they were even a thing – and threw a dollop of time travel on top for good measure.
Provided you had enough sand (of time) you were able to rewind mistimed jumps or avoid a nasty hit from enemies. All of this was in glorious real time, and became second nature after a few hours of playing.
Subsequent games in the franchise were pretty decent, but they all followed that tiresome “dark and gritty” route. For a genuinely innovative adventure with bags of humour and charm, it’s Sands of Time all the way.