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February 05, 2010

Insufficient Funds: Time Kufc

Insufficient Funds is a regular post in which we feature a free, or very close to it, piece of media that you can enjoy without overdrafting your bank account.

Time [Constant changing combination of the letters K-U-F-C], which we will just call Time Kufc for consistency (I can't think of any real word those letters make.), may look like your run-of-the-mill puzzle platformer with a twist, but the narrative offers so much more. If you want to go into it fresh, then just go play it now. It should only take you about 20 minutes, a time that factors into the game itself.

The basic controls are simple enough. Arrows to move left and right, space bar to jump, S to pick things up, and A to switch dimensions. The last part is obviously where the majority of the puzzle element comes in. You have to figure out how to make your way around the level while switching dimensions, sometimes mid-jump, so you'll have a platform to land on.

The story is where it excels, though. It all starts with you, telling past you, to go into the cardboard box lying in the street. While you navigate through one screen puzzles and attempt to get to the portal to the next level, your future self harrasses you from a few levels ahead.

Everything is foreshadowed by your future self, and you'll start to see changes to your character as you progress. It's the writing that makes it unbelievably creepy. It doesn't start out that way. You'll hear plenty of time related jokes in the first few levels, with surprisingly little repetition. Eventually, when things turn to talk of 'Steven', it starts to get unsettling.

Oddball lines, turn to strange lines, and disturbing lines, and eventually borderline threatening lines.

"Steven is growing. His little legs tickle my brain. How the years fly by."

"I found the way out, but Steven informed me that I'm a failure and I shouldn't be alive... so now I'm dead. You die in the next room."

"I think I'm in the same room that you are, can you see me? I'm looking at you from a crack in the monitor."

"Please stop playing this game. Every room that goes by is simply a reminder of my failures. I want to go home now and I can't till you give up."

For the sake of saving a few things for you to discover yourself I won't go any further, but once the game started to break the 4th wall, it actually started to creep me out. A hard task for a video game to accomplish, let alone a flash game.

I feel like I could go play through it all again, even without the temptation of Kongregate achievements. Even loading up the game for this article made me notice some brilliant foreshadowing of the ending within the title screen itself. Another homerun for Edmund McMillen and crew. Take the time to go check this game out.


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