Timothy’s Night (PS5) Review

Back in January 2018, Wild Sphere released Timothy vs. the Aliens exclusively on the PlayStation 4 thanks to their partnership with PlayStation Talents. Earlier this year, the game finally made its way to both the PC and the Nintendo Switch, with a few highly requested (by me) features and some QOL improvements. However, the developers didn’t stop there, last week they published Timothy’s Night, a PlayStation 5 exclusive ‘Enhanced Edition’ of the game that adds more content and takes full advantage of the new hardware and controller!

I’ve been following Wild Sphere for a while, owning every game they’ve put out since I covered this fun 3D action game back in 2018. Each game they create explores a different genre and visual style; from the addictive and frustrating puzzle game Naught to the colourful and casual children’s game Gigantosaurus, I always find it easy to pick up their games and simply have fun whenever I have a free moment. Recently, they’ve even worked with publishers such as Perp Games in order to release physical copies for those who prefer those over digital versions – I wonder if they’ll also partner up for a Timothy’s Night release?

I received the game last Friday and over the weekend I grabbed the Platinum trophy. I’ve done all the new content, seen what features have changed, and pushed the game to its limits to see if it runs as smooth as the previous version. But, is it worth picking up this new Enhanced Edition if you’ve played the original, or is it best if you’ve never played it before? Let’s find out…

Timothy's Night 1+1

Timothy is looking rather ‘sharp’ today!

Timothy’s Night has the same narrative as the original Timothy vs. the Aliens, but I’ll run through it again just in case you’ve not heard of the game before.

22 years ago, Timothy was abducted by friendly aliens, he wasn’t targeted, he was simply in the wrong place at the right time. They entrusted him with a playing card, the Ace of Hearts, a mystical artefact that allows the bearer to bend space and time and slow down the world around him for a short period. There was very little context given behind this magnificent gift, aside from a warning that an invasion is imminent and the only person who’ll be able to stand against the threat is the one who holds the item. And with that, they left just as fast as they arrived.

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Years went by with no otherworldly contact, and thanks to the noir setting of the time period, Timothy grew into a by-the-books gangster within his home town of Little Fish City – practically ruling the place thanks to his unique ability. However, after a normal day of pestering the Godfather and returning home for a nap, something unexpected happens – Earth is invaded by aliens! It’s time for Timothy to step up and save the world from this extra-terrestrial hostile attack, utilising both the ability bestowed upon him and the various man-made weaponry at his disposal.

Your task is to rid the city of unwanted visitors, help out those in need, and save the world – tonight is Timothy’s Night

Timothy's Night 2+1

I love how colourful the aliens are!

Gameplay
Timothy’s Night is a 3D action platformer, but there’s not a lot of platforming if I’m being honest. You’ll spend the majority of your time wandering around the decently-sized open-world city as you search for collectables and key progression items. There’s a lot of combat, against some of the cutest and colourful aliens you’ve ever seen, but there are also some simple environmental puzzles such as pulling a level and then making your way to a certain point before the timer runs out.

The combat is fun and varied, giving you access to a weak pistol at first yet later allowing you to purchase other weapons such as a shotgun or machine gun. This new version also allows you to throw grenades that can injure many aliens at once – which is very helpful as they can quickly huddle together when you’re running around the city. Aiming takes a little while to get used to, as the cursor doesn’t aggressively lock onto your target as soon as you pull the L2 trigger, but you soon become accustomed to the controls. Also, you can slow down time using your ACE ability, so that also makes aiming and slaughtering the enemies much easier!

With regards to the actual platforming segments, due to the high framerate (the game targets 60fps), the platforming is straightforward and responsive. One of my main issues with the Switch edition of the game was that the lower framerate impacted my ability to quickly react to certain jumps, often resulting in having to repeat a segment numerous times. 

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Also, once you obtain a key, you can drive around the city in one of the many cars placed upon the road, abandoned when the aliens attacked. Plus, just like the latest Switch edition of the original game, the map now remains on the screen whilst you drive – the original PS4 version had a bug that resulted in the map vanishing whenever you got inside a vehicle.

Timothy's Night 3+1

I wonder where Naught is?

Side missions?
The two sets of collectables are back, aliens and hotdogs. There are nine aliens, which increase your ACE ability and health, hidden throughout the city. I never found all of these in the PS4 version of the game, so I don’t know if they’re in the same place or if they’ve moved. The reason I say that is because I believe some of the hotdogs have changed location as I couldn’t find a few so resorted to a guide and they weren’t in the same place. However, a welcome update to Timothy’s Night is that you can buy a device in-game which beeps when you’re near a hidden item!

This Enhanced Edition brings with it two new sets of collectables to discover, fish for Naught (the cat from the developer’s other game, with the same name) and packages for a delivery man. As these are new, I had no help or support online when I couldn’t find them, so I had to simply walk all over the city and climb every ladder to see if the item detector started to make a noise. I eventually found them all, but it was quite challenging in my opinion. I’m just happy they added the in-game device (which I asked for when the PS4 version was released) as I would have literally walked past most of the items!

Each set of collectables are worth seeking out, not only for the trophies but because you’ll also get a key to a bonus or simply increase your health and stamina (with the aliens). One of the new bonuses is a tank, literally a massive tank which you can drive through the streets as you blow the alien scum to smithereens! However, despite the developers adding in the option to invert the y-axis (something I’ve been literally pestering them to do for over three years), the y-axis reverts to non-inverted once you enter the tank!

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PS5 <=> PS4

PS5
PS4

Changes
So, what’s the difference between Timothy vs. the Aliens and Timothy’s Night? To put it simply, a lot. Let’s start with the obvious, Timothy’s Night is 4K/60, whereas the previous was 1080/60, and the entire art style has changed. Originally, the game was a noir setting, everything within the world was black and white with only the aliens and the red playing card being in colour. The new edition has more of a sepia tone to it, rather than being colourless, with more objects and effects displaying colours; such as fires, items in the shop, crates, lights, and the collectables. 

As such, the game looks drastically different and colourful, even though it’s still intentionally dark and drained of colour to emphasise the theme and time period. The extra colour, especially in the lights, fires, and signs, are also reflected in the wet floors, shiny surfaces, and provide a colour-based glow on surrounding objects. There’s no raytracing (even though their next game apparently has it), but the effects look great thanks to the methods used. The Press info we got said it has HDR, but it’s not actually using it at the moment – I’ve asked the developer about this.

Although I love the new colours and effects, I also loved the original style as well – I would have liked an option to maybe revert back to the black and white style, as you can in L.A. Noir.

The city itself has been made 35% bigger by allowing you to scale new buildings and walk around the outside of the city, searching for the collectables and the four new key items required to progress the story. There are even new types of enemies for you to face against and you have the aforementioned item-finder, tank and grenades to play with. 

Also, unlike the original game, once you complete the story, you return to the city, allowing you to complete any trophies you’ve not yet unlocked without having to start a new game. You still get a ‘point of no return’ warning, but you’ll return upon defeating the final boss! 

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Timothy's Night 5+1

Activity Cards.

Controls
Sticking with the changes, a subtle but major change is in the controller layout. Previously, you had to hold Square to run (and smash crates without wasting bullets). Considering you use the Right Thumbstick to look and the camera doesn’t lock to behind Timothy, that made running cumbersome and awkward. Now, you hold R1 to run – allowing you to move the camera at the same time without requiring a third arm or second thumb. We also, finally, get the option to invert the y-axis (as mentioned above) – so people like me can play the game without any camera issues! You can even adjust the sensitivity of both axes if you find it too slow or fast.

With regards to the DualSense, Timothy’s Night utilises everything bar the microphone. The haptic feedback allows you to feel every step you take (literally) and the impact of bashing into things as you dash around, with the adaptive triggers adjusting based on what weapon you have equipped. You also get audio coming out of the controller’s speaker which further immerses you within the game, making you not only feel certain impacts in your hands, but you’ll also hear the effect at the same time coming from that direction.

According to the information sent to us with the review copy, there are over 190 different adaptive trigger configurations within the game, everything from the footsteps to the rain bouncing off your head, it all has some sort of feedback that plays out within your hands. 

Activity Cards
Timothy’s Night makes use of the PS5’s Activity Cards. As you’re playing, the Control Center will display a card for the main story and each of the side missions, letting you know how much you’ve completed each aspect. There may not be a progress counter on the trophies (i.e. how many collectables you’ve found – X/X), but the cards give you a percentage for each particular item.

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Timothy's Night 6+1

Time to bring out the big guns!

Technical
Timothy vs. the Aliens runs at a locked 60fps on the PS5 via Backwards Compatability – but does Timothy’s Night? The short answer is no. The developers have been ambitious, pushing a full 4K resolution with lots of updated lighting effects, fog, clouds, real-time reflections, and apparently the number of objects on screen multiplied by up to ten times! However, the PS5 simply isn’t powerful enough to run this beautiful Enhanced Edition at a locked 60fps. If you enter a building then it’ll be super smooth, but outside, in the open world, you’ll feel the framerate dip as you walk past fire or become encased in a small arena battle with various aliens.

What I feel the game would have benefited from would have either been a dynamic resolution, to ensure the 60fps was locked, or maybe a toggle so we could set the rendering resolution to something like 1620p or 1440p (whichever gives a constant 60fps). That way, you could choose whether you favour resolution or framerate. Don’t get me wrong, the performance isn’t ‘bad’, it can just be inconsistent depending on what’s on the screen. It’s a shame PlayStation doesn’t yet support VRR displays, that would have ironed out the minor drops I experienced.

There was one glitch that also happened in the new Nintendo Switch edition as well – the mini-map simply froze and stopped moving as I explored. It worked when I got in a car, but on foot it was static. This eventually resolved itself after about an hour, but I don’t know what caused it or how it fixed itself – hopefully it’s a glitch the developers can easily fix.

With regards to the music, it’s just as awesome as I remember. It perfectly sets the noir theme and pulls you into the world. Also, to make it feel more like you’re listening to the radio as you play, there are a few radio broadcasts placed in between the tracks that talks about the alien invasion around the world – which was a nice touch. I believe there are a few new tracks in the soundtrack as well. Something I found quite funny, and don’t recall from the original game, is that there are radios scattered around the city which you can shoot. Once destroyed, the music literally stops for about a minute before starting again – this serves no purpose but I found it amusing!

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One final thing which I wish had been added are voices. Just like the original, the game is silent in terms of dialogue. The script is funny and the characters all have their own personality, you just have to invent their voices in your head or when you read them out loud (as I did). I imagine the lack of voices is down to how small the studio is, and not all games need voices to be good – just look at the Zelda titles!

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Timothy’s Night is the much prettier, dolled-up twin-sibling to the original colour-less 2018 edition. Instead of simply porting the same game to the PlayStation 5, the developers have added more content, changed the whole colour scheme, updated various mechanics, boosted the visuals, and expanded the world, so despite being technically the same game, it felt fresh and new. Due to the ambitious visual overhaul, the game feels like it dips below 60fps at times, but not enough to distract you from the brilliant use of the DualSense controller and fun gameplay.

Whether you’ve played the original game or not, Timothy’s Night is a fun game to replay or experience for the first time. There is no free upgrade, as it’s more of a remaster than a 1:1 update, but the 6-8 hours is well worth the price of the game. Also, it’s great to see a small indie developer fully utilise almost everything the PlayStation 5 offers in order to enhance their game and deliver a product closer to their vision, rather than a simple port with no changes.

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Timothy's Night

£15.99
8.5

Final Score

8.5/10

The Good:

  • - Enhanced Edition of the 2018 PS4 game, now with a bigger city, more things to do, and more colours!
  • - Great soundtrack with new tracks and radio broadcasts
  • - Little Fish City has never looked so good!
  • - Great use of the DualSense controller
  • - Fun gameplay for all ages

The Bad:

  • - There are some performance issues due to the visual upgrades
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