Well, if you really have to make yet another wave shooter you might as well have some fun with it, right? On paper, Time Carnage seems to understand this; travel across space and time and kill exotic enemies in lands long forgotten. Incredibly, though, Wales Interactive’s latest fails to mine even a slither of fun out of its goofy b-movie concept.
Imagine revisiting, say, the Civil War-era with an uzi, or introducing yourself to the cavemen before blowing them up with a rocket launcher. Perhaps not the most progressive use of VR, no, but at least there’s the potential for an entertaining spin of history. Only two of Time Carnage’s four eras actually travel through the past and future, though. The first is a predictable trip back to the prehistoric-era to shoot down some dinosaurs, which is at least a bit better than it was in Ark Park, and the second sees you flung into the far future to do battle with robots.
Other than that there are several shootouts in what look like rejected Game of Thrones sets and, yes, a present-day wasteland to gun down zombies. In these more generic environments I found myself begging the game to speed up its excruciatingly slow enemies so that I might be spared a few minutes less of boredom (and I can’t help but suspect waves arrive so slowly simply to artificially pad out the running time). Time Carnage doesn’t even attempt to mask the fact it’s a by-the-numbers wave shooter arriving at a time the genre is so hopelessly oversaturated that most of us have worn out our shooting arms.
This is just Dimension Hunters without the imagination, Serious Sam with none of the charm, or Brookhaven Experiment devoid of scares. Worse yet, many of its weapons lack any sort of weight, often feeling like plastic toys. You’re meant to mix and match a set of four guns that you switch between whilst the others gradually reload, but I found it most effective to just select the most powerful weapon four times over and alternate depending on ammo rather than deploy any kind of strategy.
Weapons do at least unlock at a steady pace, giving you some semblance of an excuse to push on through the 16-mission campaign. Ramping up the difficulty is one way to salvage at least some form of intensity, though the game’s hard mode fluctuates between redundantly easy to near-impossible difficulty spikes in erratic fashion, as if it occasionally throws mood swings at you for not dying enough.
The same goes for the game’s visuals, which fluctuate between unbearably drab to surprisingly detailed. The zombie and robot environments don’t have a hint of character about them, though the jurassic jungles are dense and crisp. It’s a shame the brown color palette robs that area of any vibrancy, though.
Should you finish the campaign then you can head to a Challenge Mode for 10 more levels of pain or the arcade mode to keep up your scores. But chances are you’ll have seen enough of Time Carnage long before then.
A painfully dull test of endurance, Time Carnage is as lifeless as VR wave shooters come. Even for an over-saturated genre, this is surprisingly devoid of invention; stand in place, shoot hordes of incoming attackers, unlock a new gun, do it all again. There is at least enough functional content to save the game from reaching Pixel Gear levels of travesty, but there are many, many other wave shooters you should play instead of this.
Time Carnage is avaialble now on PSVR, Rift, Vive and Windows for $19.99. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.