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You Need to Play the Most Bloodthirsty Time-Loop Game of the Year

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

In Stars and Time castle overlook screenshot
Armor Games Studios

Some of the best stories include time loops. There’s the likes of Majora’s Mask, Outer Wilds, and Deathloop that all earned a lot of praise for how they included a time loop mechanic. And let’s not forget the movie Groundhog Day, which came out three decades ago!

It’s rare for a new game to come along that does something fresh with the formula. Enter In Stars and Time (a $19.99 indie RPG released on November 20 for Sony’s PlayStation, Nintendo’s Switch, and PC) adds new layers to the genre through its complex characters, puzzle-like world design, and simplified yet tight turn-based combat.

The story of In Stars and Time starts at the end. The main protagonist, Siffrin, is part of a typical fantasy RPG party that is on the eve of facing the final all-powerful evil of the world. The party of heroes enters the final dungeon only for Siffrin to be unceremoniously crushed by a boulder in front of his friends. Then he wakes up on the morning before his death once more.

This shocks nobody, as we know this is a time loop game, and it’s where In Stars and Time starts to pick up speed as the game dives into the meat of the experience.

While In Stars and Time is an RPG, it is also a roguelike. The majority of the game focuses on the challenge of navigating a multi-floor castle that includes the final boss. As Siffrin’s first death illustrates, this isn’t an easy task as the castle is filled with traps and puzzles. Through Siffrin’s many deaths that follow throughout the game, the player can slowly learn every inch of the castle and the specific items and paths needed to make it to the end.

Oftentimes times players reach a roadblock whose solution includes another death-and-resurrection to go back for information that will help them move forward. It’s a smart use of death, something players are typically avoidant of.

In Stars and Time isn’t just about exploring and puzzle-solving, though, as Siffrin and the party are faced with enemies at every step. So, the game is a traditional turn-based RPG but with its own signature twist. Most turn-based RPGs rely on weaknesses and strengths to create interesting strategic combat, think Pokémon's types. In Stars and Time simplifies that down to its basic form with rock, paper, scissors.

Yes, combat in In Stars and Time centers around only rock, paper, and scissor attacks.

While this seems simplistic, the game makes it interesting by allowing Siffrin to retain gear and levels from loop to loop. As a result, players have to strategize as they face tougher enemies throughout the game.

In Stars and Time simplifies turn-based combat to rock paper scissors in an ingenious move.

Armor Games Studios

Another quality-of-life feature from In Stars and Time is the ability to just skip things. Once players start getting into the game’s constant loops, they can skip through dialogue they’ve already seen before, stopping when something new pops up. The further players explore in the game, they’ll unlock new locations deeper in the castle they can start loops from.

The time loop mechanic is certainly deep, but the center of In Stars in Time is its characters. Siffrin and the party he is part of is what keeps you motivated to do loop after loop, even when this repetition reaches its most tiresome moments. The story of these characters' relationships is written so well that you’ll want to get these people out of the loop.

For those looking for a unique take on time loops, roguelikes, or charming RPGs, In Stars in Time is the perfect game.

In Stars and Time is now available on PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC for $19.99.

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