I played (and finished) this game a long time ago, but it seems like only yesterday I was hearing voices from the other room that sounded like me telling me to stay where I was, nothing good would come of it, but I had to go to the bathroom and so ignored them.
My life has not been the same since.
With gaming, I’ve stopped the “casual” side of my hobby. Frankly, though it was designed for and touted to do otherwise, it took up too much of my time for too little return. Casual games are easy to pick up, yes, and usually pretty short, but what they sacrifice for these “gains” are thematic depth and complexity of gameplay.
But I still sieve casual game sites because, though I’m not interested in the mainstream of casual gaming, there’s another breed of game lumped in with the first: short games that, because of their length, their lack of high-falutin’ graphics, and their non-necessity for making a profit, aspire to and achieve being art.
Enter Time Kufc. No, this isn’t a time-management game where you’re the manager of a KFC-knockoff restaurant. Instead Time Kufc is a puzzle-platformer where you, as the main character, are sucked into a box – on advice from yourself twenty minutes in the future – and face level after level on your way to freedom. As you complete each level, you receive messages that aim at guiding you along, but end up becoming creepy very quickly. Just as quickly, it becomes obvious that you’ve entered a kind of time warp, hence the title, when properly rearranged, becomes Time Fuck.
And it is. Not in the way I was complaining about regarding other casual games, where I spend an hour or three playing them and then think, “Fuck! Why have I wasted so much time on this meaningless and unrewarding game!” And, yes, that’s exactly how I talk to myself in my head.
But the time fuck in Time Kufc is in the game itself, the situation your find yourself (or, more correctly, your little blocky avatar) in, and the puzzle of that situation which you’re trying to unravel at the same time as your dancing your way through level after puzzling level.
Everything about this game screams style. SCREAMS it. In fact, to get a sense of what I’m talking about, you should go here to load the game, watch the intro, and then let the music play in the background as you try to read and not be disturbed by the music or the creepy vibes already traveling through your computer keyboard into your fingers and your brain.
The menu screen even holds tidbits of joy like:
Understanding the importance of following a basic set of rules is the first step into senility.
Start taking action by finding flaws in yourself, then finding excuses not to fix them and laying down because you worked so hard and, hey, let’s face it, life has no point.
If these don’t drive you kicking and screaming towards the game, then you don’t really understand the purpose of art. Which is to make you miserable.
And if that’s all that Time Kufc was, a slew of negative opinions boldly stated in a joking, but depressing, manner, then it would be an interesting diversion, that’s all. But the game is a joy in itself. The levels are challenging enough to keep you going without being so frustrating you give up. And the story of who you are and why you’re there continues to develop, making the whole dark experience even creepier.
Gameplay involves solving puzzles through switching between two different planes, both of which you can see but of which you can only physically interact with one at a time. As is usual with these sorts of platformers, your goal in each level is simply to exit. The first level involves you simply running and jumping down a hallway, a feat which takes no skill at all.
Just as the difficulty of the puzzles increases gradually, so does the soundtrack. It’s continuous, but each level, instead of introducing a new song, simply introduces elements to the song you’re already listening to. This, mixed with the staticky voice of your future and past selves, creates a mood for the game that far outweighs what you might expect from a casual gaming experience.
And by the time a boil named Steven is growing from your head, it’s too late. You’re sucked in. You’re in the box. As you’ll soon find out, you’re never getting out.