Singularity - first look

A game revolving around the manipulation of time, eh? You’ve probably already dismissed it as something like TimeShift or Prince of Persia, where you’ll use a magical wristwatch to slow down a whirling propeller blade to use as a bridge, or reverse time to stop yourself falling down that ruddy great pit. We certainly did. Great, we thought. Another hour spent talking to some enthusiastic idiot trying to convince us that this is the first time anyone’s had bullet time.

But there’s a fundamental difference with Singularity, the time-twisting shooter from the legends who made HeXen and Jedi Academy. Raven Games are aware that time manipulation has been around for a while, so they’ve turned you into the victim. You don’t control time, but time controls you. It’s not as simple as that, of course – but as far as starting points go, it’s an exciting and refreshing one.

You’re on a recon mission in the unimaginable wonderland that 2010 must be. You’ve been sent in to investigate some strange readings that are coming from an island, somewhere off the coastline of Russia. As you explore the ruins of the industrialized land, and work your investigative way to the epicenter of the anomalous readings, you’ll learn about the secret state-of-the-art experiments the Russkies were busy carrying out in the Fifties – experiments in Fusion technology that would have provided them with more than enough extra power to win the Cold War.

But there were hitches – massive, exploding hitches that destroyed the plant and killed everyone. The Fifties Russian government, never shy to hide its dirty linen in a huge basket, covered it up – leaving you to uncover the story. And yes, that will happen through the time-honored method of picking up audio logs. But you’ll also use your limited time powers to restore evidence that looks like it’s damaged beyond repair.

The experiments involved a substance called Element 99. On the real periodic table, that’s Einsteinium, the element named after the guy whose work unhappily enabled the invention of the atom bomb, which fuelled the Cold War. So, as well as being the coolest number under 100, it’s a tiny, obscure and possibly unintentional homage to the hairy pacifist genius. In any event, this Element 99 seems to have had a mutating effect. Not only did it make inorganic objects exist slightly outside of linear time, it mutated the organic creatures into something distinctly alien.