Timothy vs the Aliens review for PS4, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: Wild Sphere
Developer: Wild Sphere
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

At first glance, Timothy vs the Aliens looks kind of promising. It’s an open-world gangster game where you play as the titular Timothy, defending the Earth against an alien invasion. Throw in a jaunty, jazzy soundtrack and stylish-looking black and white world where the only dashes of colour come from the aforementioned aliens, and it all seems like a recipe for a fun experience.

Then the introductory cutscene ends, you start playing, and you discover that the developers crammed every single good idea they had into those first few minutes, and had no idea what to do next. I’d say things go downhill quickly, but that would imply some kind of sloped, gradual decline. The problem with Timothy vs the Aliens is that it basically falls off a cliff moments after you start playing.

Actually, that’s not even totally true. The first sign things aren’t quite right here is when you boot up the game and discover there are no options. The fact that the game doesn’t give you any control over the volume or the brightness reveals itself to be a pretty big drawback almost immediately, when you find out that the music’s only level seems to be ?blaring,? and the black and white world is so dark that some places are basically invisible.

But Timothy vs the Aliens really hits its terrible stride when you get into the action. That ?open world?? It’s actually only a few confusingly laid out city blocks, and the whole game world seems to be populated only by Timothy, a woman, and a crapload of aliens, plus whatever people the plot demands briefly show up. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s impossible to go two steps without being besieged by hostile aliens, Little Fish City — the imaginary city in which the game is situated — would essentially be a ghost town.

There may not be much to see in Little Fish City, but Timothy vs the Aliens still finds a way to complicate your exploration of the town (hamlet? village?) by including a map that’s completely and utterly useless. You can’t set waypoints, it doesn’t include landmarks (other than your home apartment), and it doesn’t tell you where there are random walls that inevitably block you from going anywhere useful.

Of course, even if you were able to navigate somewhere interesting, you’d still be stuck fighting aliens almost literally every step of the way, since no matter where you go, they immediately swarm you. Which leads me to another of the game’s many failings: the combat sucks. I see what the game’s developers were going for: armed with your trusty pistol, you take down alien after alien, with a little help from a super-power that allows you to slow time. What you actually get, though, are ultra-aggressive aliens that show up from out of nowhere and swarm you in groups, and all you have to defend yourself is a crappy little gun that doesn’t store nearly enough bullets at a time to be effective against enemies that are essentially bullet sponges, plus a power that wears out almost instantly and takes forever to renew itself. Even the weakest enemies are able to survive three headshots, plus it takes you forever to reload six new bullets into your gun, plus aliens tend to show up in groups of three more more, so…you do the math there. It doesn’t exactly work out in your — or the game’s — favour.

Then again, nothing else works out, either. Timothy vs the Aliens is all about missed opportunities and strange choices that transform a game with a promising premise into a giant mess. If you squint hard enough you can see how it could’ve worked, but as it stands, you’ll want to stay far, far away.

Wild Sphere provided us with a Timothy vs the Aliens PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: D