Are you worrying about getting old? Are those grey hairs around your temples becoming an obsession? In the world of the movie In Time you don’t get older than twenty-five, and then you die. To live past that twenty-fifth birthday you have to work hard to buy more time. The rich lives forever, and the poor die at the height of their lives. It is a world where Will Salas fails to save his mother from dying, but still get more time than he can fathom. Now he is on the run from the police.
As movies go this seems quite interesting, as the question of life and death gets turned on its head. The game however is not that thought-provoking, and feels like something created after a brainstorming session with lists of iOS games rolling on a screen. Canabalt is a clear source of inspiration, but perhaps even more blatant is the Backbreaker influences. Basically you are Will Salas, and you have to run for your life.
The game has got two modes: story, and quickplay. Quickplay basically lets you replay the levels unlocked in story mode, and thus isn’t that exciting. Right away I felt that the game should have had some kind of endless survival mode as well. Levels in story mode have varied goals ranging from getting to a special place to saving a set number of people. Later on time keepers are chasing you down, and you have to dodge them, and then outrun them.
The controls are a mix of touch, and tilt. You tilt for movement, and there are on screen buttons for jump and dodge left/right. The control scheme is quite close to that found in the Backbreaker series. I would have liked a touch only control option as well. The current setup is responsive, but I want to be able to play a game in any location. This is not a game that works well in bed, as there is no way to manually calibrate the accelerometer.
It is quite fun to outrun a time keeper, grab some extra time and save an innocent from dying in a quick dash. It can get rather intense at times, and especially when the time keepers are breathing down my neck. For some reason it feels like it is lacking something, and perhaps it is because I haven’t seen the movie that I don’t really get the urgency of it all.
The game uses the Unreal engine for 3D graphics, and it looks quite good. The color palette is slanted towards drab greyness. I also think that the main character looks a bit flat, and outright boring. He is supposed to be Justin Timberlake, and I think some more work could have been done to infuse some personality. The loading times are quite horrendous on my iPhone 4, and I really don’t think it should load up slower than games like Backbreaker 2, Dark Meadow and Infinity Blade. The music is futuristic electronic music that suits the mood well. Sound effects are lacking, and there is no voice acting from the main character.
The 16 levels in story mode can be completed quite quickly, and after that you only have Game Center leaderboards to extend the game life. I think it is a bit thin, as the game lacks the addictive nature of survival runners.
In Life is a tie in to the new Justin Timberlake movie with the same name. Sadly tie-inns usually are quite poorly executed, and at times this truth shines through for this title as well. It manages to create some suspenseful movements of being chased by the time keepers, thieves and thugs. The use of the powerful Unreal engine is not that well executed since it adds a lot of loading time. Overall I can still recommend the game to those who are interested in the movie, and to those who want to see the Backbreaker gameplay in a new setting.