Without context, “Time FCUK” (pronounced “Time F**k”), is a mind-bending platformer where you try to get your simple avatar to a teleporter by warping space time. The puzzles get increasingly more devious and new elements are continuously added throughout the main game, introducing gravity-changing arrows and portals. Again, taken on its own, it’s a very clever puzzle/platformer. But add in the twisted and entertaining mind of Edmund McMillen (an indie mainstay who has worked on titles like “Gish,” “Aether,” “Spewer,” and “Braid,”) and the game hits on another level all together. A darker, creepier, more unnerving level.
I spoke to Edmund regarding the game, which was inspired by an unexpected source.
“I had a 10 year high school reunion a couple of months ago and it was super depressing. That’s actually what the intro [to ’Time FCUK’] is. It was upsetting to not see these people for 10 years and then to see them again and they’re all sad, they’re all miserable, they’re all drunk, complaining about how their lives are. And they’re all exactly the same people they were 10 years ago. It was very upsetting to see so many people stuck in their boxes.”
It’s that futility that’s captured throughout the game, where you feel like you’re making no progress at all, where ever step forward is a step back. And, all the while, a creepy face of your future self is watching over you.
It’s this twisted tone that Edmund feels is integral to making a thought-provoking game:
“I always try to put the player in an uncomfortable place because they’re more susceptible to innovation and possible deeper meanings to things. Taking them out of their comfort zone so they realize this is something different that’s offering something more. Hopefully they’d be more open to receiving what I’m giving out.”
Regarding the story, Edmund explained that there’s a clear answer to what’s going on. “The theme and the story is very specific, but the vibe is claustrophobic and inward thinking insanity. You should feel like something is amiss, something is wrong. You should be questioning your surroundings and what you’re doing…I wanted the mood to be strange or unsettling, like a David Lynch movie…Playing with the idea of Big Brother being you. You f**king yourself over, and you being the one that’s in control of your actions.”
Talking about other inspirations, Edmund notes that two movies keep coming up whenever people talk about the game:
“Everybody says that it’s like a cross between ’Primer’ and ’Cube.’ I’ve seen ’Cube,’ I haven’t seen ’Primer’ yet. I saw a movie recently called ’Time Crimes.’ I really liked that movie, it was really similar to what I was working on.”
Despite the unsettling nature, and often vexing puzzle challenges, do yourself a favor and play through the complete story. Like “Portal,” if you haven’t finished the final level, you haven’t really played the game. Said Edmund, “It brings the whole thing together into one piece.”