Time Decay is a narrative platforming game about learning to find autonomy in dysphoria.
Time Decay is a personal, narrative platforming game about my experience going through a puberty I did not want, while being raised by a Mother who did not want me to be who I was, as a transgender woman in the mid-2000s. It is about the transformations, both desired and unwanted, we undergo in our lives, and how we cope with them.
Time Decay is split between two options for play: speedrunning, and combat. In the speedrunning sections, players are encouraged to find the quickest, most efficient-path through a level using challenging, reflex-based puzzle elements. Meanwhile, combat is slow-paced and purposefully unpleasant, but will usually only require the player to simply walk forward and attack. This is to fit within my metaphor of unwanted puberty.
When a player starts a level, they begin in a form more suited to platforming. Over time, their XP bar will gradually fill. Once it fills completely, they will “level up” into a slower form, but one still capable of platforming. If it fills completely again, however, they will now be stuck in a combat form for the duration of the level.
To me, puberty felt like I was slowly becoming a monster. I felt uncomfortable in my body, and it was difficult to control. I was terrified of how permanent the changes felt. My elders told me to be proud of this new body, but I was anything but. Similarly, in this game, players begin levels in a quicker form with more extensive game feel, and must finish levels before they transform if they want to retain their shape, all while NPCs in the game encourage them to embrace combat. They must take the difficult path, and ignore the NPC’s instructions- if they want to keep their body.
There are two endings for this game based on which form players complete the final level using. There’s also multiple narrative paths throughout the levels. Notably, all endings carry a degree of hope. Nobody’s puberty or transition experience is the same, and while this game is meant to portray my specific experience, I wanted to emphasize that, no matter what, it is never too late to be who you are.
Created by Michelle Ehrhardt, featuring environment art modified from Spring on Opengameart.org (https://opengameart.org/content/4-color-assortment)