An incomplete history of time-travel games

31 games, 3 decades, and only a handful of cowboy levels

“We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is? When will we get to the cowboy level?”

– Professor Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Time travel and videogames are a perfect fit. Not only does fourth-dimensional falderal justify all manner of shiny sci-fi doodaddery, but also it frees designers to set levels in any period of earthly or extraterrestrial time. Did they have fiery lava continents in prehistoric times? You betcha! Could the future hold a new ice age? Hello, slippery ice world! Does history have cowboys in it? It sure does - and now so does your game!

More canny developers incorporate time-travel elements at a gameplay level, monkeying with players’ brains in a manner that can be alternately delightful and absolutely infuriating. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to survey 30 notable time-travel games from throughout videogame history. Our guiding spirit will be high-topped Marty McFly (whose crummy games, incidentally, won’t appear on this list); our criteria will be what every time-travel game should aim for. Which is to say, utter incomprehensibility. And cowboys.



Time Travel Satisfaction Rating:


Time Travel Satisfaction Rating:

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