Stargate SG-1 first thrilled sci-fi fans back in 1997, following a team of soldiers and scientists exploring alien worlds through mysterious portals called “Stargates.” The beloved TV series ran for 10 seasons and sparked a passionate fandom that spans over two decades now. So when publisher Slitherine announced a new Stargate real-time strategy adaptation called Timekeepers, fans were primed to beam through that signature watery vortex into adventure once more.
The past few years have seen iconic media IPs successfully bridge into strategy titles, expanding their worlds into fresh interactive experiences. We’ve battled orcs and demons in a Might & Magic XCOM mashup and built thriving settlements across Middle Earth. Now Stargate aims to join that pantheon in Timekeepers, casting players as an elite covert ops squad exploring, infiltrating and sabotaging alien threats.
It’s an intriguing premise that promises to fuse tactical gameplay with sci-fi storytelling. But can it truly capture that Stargate atmosphere? Does the strategy hold up or does it need more time in the incubation pod? Let’s step through and find out…
Diving Into the Deep Lore
Timekeepers kicks off right in the midst of Stargate SG-1’s 7th season, with the fate of Earth itself at stake. Anubis’ fleet is battering Antarctica to dust in a no-holds-barred alien invasion intent on claiming an Ancient superweapon buried under the ice.
Cmdr. Eva McCain crashes her fighter into the frozen wastes amidst this raging battle. Her sniper buddy Max digs her out and together they must sabotage a downed mothership to help turn the tide. It’s an in media res opening that immediately immerses fans in a pivotal moment while newcomers are left playing catch-up.
And that setpiece really exemplifies Timekeepers’ identity crisis. It leverages the rich Stargate mythos as window dressing for its missions but makes zero effort to onboard fresh recruits. The writers rapid-fire alien terms, factions and lore events without explanation, relying fully on existing fan knowledge. Even I had to wiki dive to refresh my memory on the state of the Goa’uld cold war by Season 7.
The result is a campaign that feels episodic in structure but shallow in narrative impact. Eva’s squad bumbles through various hijinks each mission gathering Intel or thwarting some apocalyptic scheme. But there’s no central villain or tension anchoring their adventures. It’s a string of casually-linked campy plots rather than a cohesive story. Great for fans to revisit the universe but lackluster as an expansion of lore or stakes.
Sneaking Through the Shadows
At its core, Timekeepers is a real-time stealth tactics affair taking cues from commando classics like Shadow Tactics and Desperados. Missions task Eva’s squad with infiltrating enemy compounds, avoiding patrols, sabotaging equipment and extracting VIPs or intel.
It’s a formula veterans will find familiar but Stargate gives it a sci-fi reskin. Instead of WWII soldiers or wild west gunslingers, you control a motley crew of marines, rebels and aliens each with their own set of skills. Sniper dude Max can nail headshots from across the map while Jaffa thief A’ta can don disguises to blend into crowds.
You click around each lavishly-detailed locale directing squad movements, then pause into a planning mode where you string together chains of actions to synchronize takedowns. It’s supremely satisfying to coordinate Eva lobbing a grenade as distraction while Max lines up the perfect assassination shot.
Variety comes from combining these skillsets to conquer objectives. Maybe you neutralize the patrols sweeping the periphery then send in the disguise to access computer systems while the flycam drone grabs keycards. Or you stealthily eliminate all threats with non-lethal rounds to keep things morally clean. The range of combat, tech and alien abilities at your disposal allows for creative solutions.
But that ingenuity can only take you so far when the game funnels you down rigid mission objectives. For all the player expression in formulating plans, you’re still invariably tasked with point A to point B pipelines like “hack this,” “blow up that,” with failure instantly reverting back minutes of progress. It discourages experimentation when stepping outside narrowly defined win conditions resets all momentum.
A Picturesque World With Puppet People
One area where Timekeepers uniformly shines is its art direction. Each locale brims with vibrant alien vistas, from lush jungle temples to arid desert settlements to Antarctic ice caves. They wonderfully realize the environments only hinted at on the show into full 3D playgrounds.
Characters also sport detailed costumes and gear true to Stargate’s military sci-fi aesthetic. Jaffa armor glints under the twin sunset while snow coats Arctic jackets during blizzards. The UI sticks closely to SG-1’s blue holographic screens for mission briefings and a clean opacity in-game.
But peering closer reveals the flaws seeping from the artists’ ambitious reach. Character animations remain bizarrely stiff like action figures pivoting mechanically to point weapons. They slide around environments as though walking on ice, undermining the atmosphere.
What’s there audibly also fails to resonate. Simmering jungle ambience will suddenly switch to blaring trumpets when enemies detect you. Gunshots loudly pop but lack any visceral oomph. The voice acting proves particularly flat, coming off more like volunteers cold-reading scripts than embodying characters. Even with Claudia Black guest starring, performances end up more cringey than charming.
It’s likely a constraint of budget and development scale. But after the fully-produced television legacy, settling for B-tier quality across audio and visuals sells the license short. Some fan-made games have achieved more convincing presentation through passion projects alone. The inconsistencies here simply distraction rather than immersion.
A Nostalgic But Outdated Jaunt
Stepping through the stargate into Timekeepers’ adventures evokes comforting pangs of Stargate nostalgia. The episodic structure, B-movie tone and cameo characters amount to a loving homage for longtime fans. Getting the band back together, minus the band, for a reunion tour of sneaking missions through Smuggler’s Crest and K’Tau felt fun for a while.
But once the nostalgia fades, Timekeepers fails to leave a lasting impression. It utilizes the IP without expanding the lore or deepening characters. Stakes stay low as missions revolve more around hijinks than purpose. And while the stealth tactics foundation proves solid, the repetitive objectives and janky animations wear thin over a full series.
Hardcore devotees eager to revisit the universe will appreciate the loving details and references packed into this Stargate skunkworks project. But more casual fans and newcomers face an experience too outdated in presentation and narrow in scope to wholeheartedly recommend.
Unless future patches smooth out technical issues and promised content expansions add meaningful variety, Timekeepers makes for a lackluster last hurrah rather than heralding renewed franchise glory. It’s still a pleasant enough curios for Stargate stalwarts. Just don’t expect the rich adventure carved into quartz of previous entries. More technobabble and explosions would help this one go down smoother.
For devoted Stargate fans, Timekeepers offers a nostalgic but shallow chance to revisit the universe they love. Yet dated design and repetitive missions make it hard to recommend to more casual fans or franchise newcomers.
- Captures the atmosphere and humor of the Stargate universe
- Interesting variety of character abilities and squad tactics
- Missions offer some creative freedom in approach
- Great attention to detail recreating show locales
- Extremely convoluted backstory for newcomers
- Bland character development and episodic narrative
- Very repetitive core gameplay loop
- Rigid objectives limit strategic options