All Walls Must Fall came out, in Early Access form on Steam and on Itch.io, this week, and, at this tentative stage, it’s rather good. It takes place over a single night, in a world where the Cold War never ended. Enter you, a time travelling secret agent, sent to T-10 hours from a huge nuclear attack to try and stop it happening. Time is both your currency and your resource. You can pause to consider your tactics, move out of the path of bullets, and rewind to try things again if you die — though not infinitely, because if you die when you’re out of time then you really are out of time, kicked back to the home screen and told to start the night all over again, which is a definite permadeath mechanic, possibly unlike the permadeath mechanic in Hellblade that was discussed this week.
It also means that you start the game doing things out of order. Having been given your first target, you ask your handler why you must kill him, and they say ‘We’ll get to then.’ Later, you interrogate the same man, find out he lied to you in interrogation, and conclude that you should go and kill him — at which point your handler reminds you you’ve done that already. You’ve gotten to then, which is possibly now, which just goes to show that the order you perceive things to happen in isn’t necessarily the order they actually do happen in, and in fact maybe we only think everything happens in a nice neat one-after-the-other. After all, in that episode of Red Dwarf, Backwards, everything is happening in reverse, but everyone in that universe finds it perfectly normal and natural.
I often like seeing time travel in games, because it results in the cool mixups you get in All Walls Must Fall, and it echoes the impulse some of us have to get around the consequences in games, like we do with save scumming — reloading from an earlier point in the game to undo something you don’t like having done.
read more: Feature: All Walls Must Fall and time travel, or: is Life is Strange actually good?