Retelling The Time: IsoChronous

First thought: “Intriguing!” Second thought: “Ah. Hrm.” The teaser trailer for IsoChronous, which you can see below, seems to want to explain its concept (which it doesn’t quite manage) but also to obscure the actual game footage with floating concept art. Fortunately, a follow-up gameplay trailer makes the concept a little clearer with a glimpse of a battle taking place. That’s fortunate because the concept is so neat. Here it is: “IsoChronous is an action strategy game for 2 players with a game mechanic based on time layering” What does that mean? Well, you will play out a battle, and then when it’s over it rewinds and it plays again, only this time you add more units. Each time the battles plays through, it plays out differently because of new units interacting with those from the past. Past units remember what you decided to do in previous time layers, and try to play that out. The result should be some complicated strategy.

A pretty clever notion.

No word on a release, but the game is apparently going to be “playable at the Dare Protoplay event in Dundee, Scotland, from August 10th through 12th,” according to Indiegames. Thanks, Indiegames!


  1. Phantoon says:

    Wasn’t there an RTS that already did this, posted about here on RPS?

    Coulda sworn there was, and I just didn’t look into it.

    • theleif says:

      You are probably thinking of Achron.

    • marcusfell says:

      Might be thinking of Achron, which allowed you to send units back in time and stuff. If units destroyed production buildings back in time, then the units that were produced were erased, etc.


    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Achron is a bit more convoluted.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Which, to be honest, could mean this one is a better game for it, if they’ve managed to distill the clever and lose the Starcraft.

    • Mr. Mister says:

      Prometheus does something very similar, only “you operate with quantum states, not time travel, so there’s no paradox involved in killing your other selves”.
      link to
      (page links to slightly outdadet version, latest is at the very same moddb page).

      I just played and finished it last week, and God don’t you feel smart after completing a hard level.

  2. Calneon says:

    I’m also part of this Dare To Be Digital competition, making a game for iPad. If anyone is interested, the competition is open to 15 teams of 5 students from all over the world, and the best one wins a BAFTA award (and probably loads of opportunities to join big game developers).

    IsoChronos looks great, definitely one of the best games being made here, but there are also a lot of other great teams. If anyone’s interested, here’s a list of all the teams competing this year.

    link to

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask!

  3. Devenger says:

    Reminds me of the Corridor Digital lil’ video, Clock Blockers. Which, unlike this Isochronous, doesn’t quite work as an actual game concept for a few reasons – but hey, still a cool video. link to

    EDIT: Not that you shouldn’t listen to the Regina Spektor song previously linked, but my Ctrl-C doesn’t always work. Link actually goes to the right place now.

  4. MadTinkerer says:

    So Half Minute Hero crossed with Fat Princess, then. Sounds good to me!

  5. Fubeca says:

    It looks great – glad to see someone using this mechanic. I used it in my 2011 IGF entry ‘Recursion’. You can check it out here: link to

    I tried various iterations on this – the rock/paper/scissors works well, but the big question is how they handle a recording that gets saved from death.

    Overall it involves a lot of memorization of paths that you should do, but don’t. It often degenerates into a cluster fight. Either way it’s hard to keep it a strategic game, even though on paper it sound like it would be a perfect jedi situation late game. I hope they pull it off!

    • team-iso says:

      > is how they handle a recording that gets saved from death:

      When a unit is defeated it converts into a “ghost” and we keep recording everything and let the player move and attack so that if in a later time layer (round) you prevent that unit from being killed then it will be alive and the movements you did when it was a ghost are materialized =) It’s the best way to solve it that we have found. It’s not the perfect one because for most players it’s not usual to be able to continue moving or doing something when they die but it kinds of solves the paradox.

  6. Groove says:

    This looks pretty awesome, I’ve never seen this concept done in a way that made me want to actually play the game before (I’m looking at you Achron).

    I also like the small scale of it, I’m really in the market for some interesting games that don’t ask for an investment of 100 hours and a chunk of my soul.

    • team-iso says:

      We have just uploaded some videos showing a whole battle so maybe that helps understanding the game and its concepts: