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Thinking With Time Machine | Press button for soothing tunes and cargo ship delivery. Wait, what?

by on May 1, 2014


Thinking With Time Machine (TWTM) is a newly released mod for Portal 2 that relies on the familiar toolbox of the original game, but adds co-op mechanics to single-player puzzles. While Portal 2 requires you to plan ahead, the way to progress through this mod is to plan from two perspectives. It is the time machine – which is presumably the brainchild of Aperture Science – that allows you to do this.

Time Machine, you mean glorified recording machine?

In practice, the time machine functions like a recorder: push a button to begin, do something (like move around or open a portal) and then press a second button to play it. When you press this second button, your time-traveler self appears and executes the exact moves you recorded.

What’s amazing about this is that it allows for complex puzzles that require you to plan ahead. An early puzzle requires you to rely on your past self to solve a puzzle on one side of a laser wall, while your present self escapes when the door to the next room opens.

Get companion cube Place it on rightmost pressure pad. Stand on the left one. Turn around. Realize you can step off it. Also: laser wall. You need a time machine.

Get companion cube. Place it on rightmost pressure pad. Stand on the left one. Turn around. Realize you can’t step off the pressure pad, or the door you plan to exit will close. Also, there’s a laser wall in the way. Luckily, I’ve got a time machine.

INSTRUCTIONS WERE UNCLEAR, BROKE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM.

Thinking With Time Machine is genuinely entertaining in a range of ways, but upon release, its lack of polish and playtesting was apparent. At one point, I became stuck in a room with no way to progress (even though I knew the solution to the puzzle) after the door shut behind me; I had to revert to an earlier save. With the latest update, it’s only possible to load the latest save, even though the previous files are seemingly intact. I found this out when I went back to the start of the game to get a screen capture for this article; attempts to load the room I had progressed to have so far been unsuccessful.

It’s natural for a mod to be unpolished – and forgivable given that the developer has clearly made an effort to address problems as they appear. But it’s unfortunate that some of these flaws get in the way of what is otherwise a fascinating game both in concept and execution. If you got through Portal 2, you’ll probably like this. But maybe wait until the next update until you make the plunge.

Thinking With Time Machine is a free mod that requires Portal 2 to play. Kindly comment below if you figure out what that cargo ship was about.

 

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