If someone said, "Hey, let's take Geometry Wars, Ikaruga, and Braid, and just mash 'em all together to make some crazy time traveling rave shooter," I'd... well, actually, that sounds awesome. And that's essentially what Zeit Squared (or Zeit 2 or Zeit²) attempts. It's not quite as epic as all that, but Zeit Squared's a nice injection of originality into a pretty flooded and stagnant genre.
Zeit Squared might look familiar to you because its art style is completely derivative of Geometry Wars and Electroplankton. And with a small selection of different enemies, there's just nothing really visually impressive. Sure, shooters are generally simple in design because there is so much over the top crap happening on the screen, but Zeit Squared isn't one of those bullet hell shooters.
Instead, Zeit Squared is a different kind of shooter altogether. The entire game is built around the ability to rewind time. The game purposefully throws too many enemies on the screen for you to destroy. But with a simple button press, you scoot back a few seconds and try again. The ship in the original timeline still shoots the enemies you already hit, but now you have the opportunity to clean up the rest.
It's an interesting mechanic that rescues an otherwise dull shooter. The amount of time you can rewind is limited, and certain enemies can only be destroyed using this feature. Likewise, any enemies you let slip by will drain your health and your point multiplier.
Zeit Squared ramps up the difficulty in a way that keeps it challenging, but still accessible. It's also a high score chaser's dream. Every ten seconds or so, I realized better ways to fight off the previous wave. Knowing which enemies drop bombs, or how many are lined up becomes crucial to getting a high score. The challenge is not in surviving (which is easy enough because the enemy patterns are very limited), it's in trying to get all the potential bonuses that come with a perfect run.
Disappointingly, the boss battles don't live up to the game's premise. I was hoping for much larger, more strategic bosses, but they ultimately felt pretty standard. Zeit Squared is only a couple hours long in its Arcade mode, but that's about as long as the novelty of the game lasts anyway. It did succeed in making me want to play again, though, through a medal system and instantly showing my friends' leaderboards when I die.
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