Metal Gear Solid is reimagined as a darkly humorous work sim in Time Bandit.

What is the most effective approach to convey an anti-capitalist message through a videogame? I’m not sure, but forcing you to work a grueling, monotonous industrial job in real-time has to be at the top of the list.

Developer Joel Jordan’s Time Bandit, which will be available on Steam and Itch.io later this year, is a deliberate tribute to Metal Gear Solid, replete with top-down vistas and screen-filling codec calls. The only difference is that you’re not slipping into fortified compounds full of monologuing eccentrics; instead, you’re working a full shift at the box factory.

There is one additional snag. Everything happens in real-time, from refueling a forklift to obtaining a good night’s sleep.

Crates being moved? Cutting down trees? Trash compacting? That will take you five, ten, thirty, or more minutes. It is openly menial and purposefully tedious, and each task depletes an energy meter that requires an entire eight hours of sleep to restore. Have you ever been caught sleeping on the job? That’s 12 hours in jail.

But in between duties, you’ll meet new people and figure out how to reclaim the one thing your bosses have stolen away from you: time. You’ll get phone calls every few (real world) days to advance the plot, leading to true MGS-style heists to steal vital time crystals—suggesting that there may be some fascinating twists to the real-time gimmick later on.

“Time Bandit was created to allow players to incorporate the game into their life in a unique way and give them plenty of time to ponder on the concepts it offers to them while they’re playing it—and when they’re not,” writes Jordon. “The mood and storytelling of Metal Gear Solid, the political aims of Brechtian theatre, and the time-based mechanics of Animal Crossing and Pikmin were all inspirations for Time Bandit.”

Part 1: Appendages of the Machine is set to release later in 2021, however, a free “Prologue” sample is already available to download on Itch.io.

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