I’ve always been a fan of the old school black and white gangster films. Even when I watch them now I can’t help but speak like James Cagney shouting “lookey here, see”. You can bet the developers themselves have taken a lot of inspiration from these films as they have nailed the film noire style down to a tee.
The developers, Wild Sphere created a Kickstarter page for the game back in 2016 but everything for it seemed to grind to a halt and not much news or activity seemed to be taking place. Obviously it wasn’t all doom and gloom otherwise I wouldn’t be writing a review on the game. Anyways funding eventually made its way to the devs thanks to the help of Playstation Talents Games Camp which, as you can probably guess, is a program that was founded by Sony to help small developers bring their ideas to your PS4.
The player takes on the role of Timothy who is a classic 1950’s gangster in a location called Little Fish City. However, Timothy isn’t your average wise guy gangster. He has a little trick up his sleeve and it isn’t just a Thompson machine gun; although you do get one of these in the game but forget that for the minute. This fella can slow down time which, let me tell you, when you’re surrounded by a gang of aliens comes in very handy. How is this possible? Well the game has a very nice video sequence, which explains that Timothy was abducted as a kid and given a special card by a group of aliens called ‘Activists’. It’s this Ace that helps Timothy do the time bending piece of magic, however it also comes with a message that at some point in the future there will be an alien invasion that Timothy must stop.
Back in the present day… or a day that was present in the 1950’s, we see that the alien invasion prophecy was in fact true and those slimy space mutants are here to take over. This is where the game truly opens up for the player as Timothy vs. the Aliens has an open world style to it. I wouldn’t start thinking GTA style open world but the map is a decent size for you to roam around. The controls of the game are pretty standard in all fairness and very easy to get used to although, me being the doughnut that I am, it took me a good half an hour or so to figure out holding square makes you sprint. Doesn’t seem like a big deal but when the game tells you every button on the loading screen with a map of the controller you can see why I was annoyed with myself.
It’s not all about walking or sprinting round as there is a shop where the player can buy a car key. Once purchased unlike other keys in the game this one has multiple uses instead of one use then discarding. This is where the trouble begins with the game as the controls for the car are and the mini map disappears when you enter the car so have no idea of the streets your navigating. There’s one mission in particular where you have to beat the time of another gangster in a street race and the turning/acceleration of the car needs a lot of tweaking. The time trial took far too many goes than it should of and this was down to the car either being too sensitive or just non responsive to what I was pressing. This was also present again when just driving around the town where by the end of it I found it easier and quicker just to get out and run to my destination.
Combat is fairly straight forward as it’s the basics of pulling the L2 to aim and R2 to fire so there’s not much that can really go wrong with it. There are three weapons you can unlock or buy from the shop keeper with money you collect from around the city and they are the machine gun, shotgun and .357 revolver. You also have a pistol but this is given to you at the start of the game and comes with infinite ammo. The other weapons actually use ammo so you will either need to find it scattered about the city which in all honesty is kind of scarce, or again you visit the shop keeper and buy it from him which is the option I found myself doing on the regular. Earlier on I mentioned the whole slowing down time situation. This is done by pressing Triangle which allows Timothy to move at a normal speed while everything else around him slows down. This means you can get in those crucial shots nice and easy. The speed feature however does require green orbs to refill the meter and these are dropped from splattered aliens.
The aliens come in many different colours for that matter which is a great effect as it breaks up the classic black and white style and adds a bit of vibrancy to the game. Most of the aliens are quite easy to kill as they only take a few shots from the pistol or machine gun to splatter all over the pavement. There are bigger ones however who can grab hold of you in their mouth forcing you to smash R2 like a madman to escape. Even though the game is an alien invasion not all of them are bad. Remember the little Martian dudes that give Timothy the deck of cards? Well these fellas are scattered in random places throughout the city to help you out. If you do happen to stumble across one, they will either increase your health or speed meter depending on their colour. One thing I should mention is that health in the game is found and replenished with the use of an old school style syringe, which is used by pressing down on the d-pad.
I have to say the soundtrack for Timothy Vs. The Aliens is superb. You’re treated to a delightfully smooth set of jazz tunes to accompany your 1950’s gangster adventures. There are several tracks that cycle through as you saunter along the streets and a couple for action sequences that spice things up a bit.
All in all, when you pair it with the games impressive visual flair, it makes for a very stylish experience. The combat is also surprisingly satisfying for such a straightforward game.
Although I should hardly be shocked that splattering huge green aliens with a Tommy gun feels great…