If you’ve ever fallen before, you know firsthand that time is relative. You could be looking at your watch one minute—the second hand ticking onward in steady calculation—and then, in the next, you could be bending time and space as your limbs fly through the air. When you lose control of your body, the wind blowing back your hair as your rush to meet the floor, you begin to question the certainty of that clock’s hand. Falling shouldn’t take more than a couple seconds, right? After all, your buddy gravity is there to ensure it ends quickly and painfully.
But instead, you find yourself with ample time to not only realize you are falling, but also to feel embarrassed about the people who are watching it happen around you. “Do they know it’s been a lifetime since I first tripped on my shoelace?” you think to them, as you look back and forth between the accursed shoe lace and that boy you like who’s standing across the hall, staring at the whole spectacle.
TIMEframe captures the elasticity of time in a different kind of fall. While falling in a classroom allows you to experienced the relativity of time in your body, this game helps you experience it intellectually. In TIMEframe, you to explore a desolate and mysterious world locked in a destructive loop. Every ten minutes (which are actually just a very stretched-out ten seconds), your playthrough restarts, and each time you must venture back into the world to learn more about how it got this way. After the first go around, it becomes clear you are the only living life form in the world. But hints of civilization still lie scattered everywhere, and an unbidden sense of loss follows you as you inspect the remnants left behind. Water glints in the sunlight, but it’s stagnant—suspended in midair. A statue reaches for the sun, its face frozen in fear.
Though TIMEframe began as a Ludum Dare jam game in 2013, creators Tyler and Spencer Owen extended the experience to realize the story’s full potential. Released just yesterday on Steam, it’s received modest attention but vocal enthusiasm from reviewers lauding its mystery, soundtrack (by Clark Aboud), and polygonal art style.
You can buy TIMEframe on Steam for Windows and Mac.