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File:Singularity cover 1206.jpg


It is 1950. Facing the power of the atomic bomb, still solely controlled by the United States of America, the USSR starts looking for their own super weapon. On a small island, named Katorga-12, off the eastern coast of the Soviet Union, a strange new element is discovered, containing immense power. Named E99, an entire facility is constructed in secret to develop this unique resource, and give Stalin the power to conquer the world.

This does not go well.

In 1955, a disaster devastates the entire island. The experiment, the island, and the facility are buried by the Soviet government, scrubbed from files and hidden from the world.

Flash forward to 2010. A US Marine recon patrol, in response to strange radiation readings from the supposedly non-existent island, heads to investigate. After a sudden flash of light, the patrol helicopter crashes...

You play Captain Nate Renko, who quickly discovers that the island is much more than it appears. The space-time continuum is in constant flux. The 1950s bleed into 2010. The timeline is quickly disrupted, forming a mess of interchanging pasts and presents. Horrific mutants and monsters, the Soviet army of the past and present, and the environment itself are out to kill him. It is only the power of the TMD, an experimental device used to manipulate the time state of objects or people, and the help of a mysterious woman and her old mentor, that allows Renko to survive, and slowly unwind the truth behind the island's mysteries.

Not to be confused with The Singularity, or Singularity, the novel. Or with Endgame Singularity, which is an Open Source game where you're playing an AI. Also not to be confused with TimeShift, the other time-warping FPS.

The game features the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: most of the weapons use "normal" rounds (i.e. bullets, railgun spikes, rockets) that you find packets of around the island. Not so with the Gatling Gun. The reload animation shows that you replace a small E99 device on top of it, instead of loading new bullets. The Developer's Blog on the game's homepage has revealed how this works: The E99 device actually turns time backward once you install it, letting you fire the same cartridges all over again. It doesn't quite explain if those bullets leave the dead bodies of your foes or simply appear out of nowhere, though.
  • Alien Space Bats: The initial timeline can be considered our timeline, however, after the first journey into the past, each resulting timeline, in which the Soviet Union controls the world, is the result of E99, super soldiers, and super advanced technology imposed on the world of the 1950s, all as a result of the main character's changing of the past.
  • Alternate History: Technically, the main timeline, but most certainly present in the timelines which result in the main character's interference in the past, all of which contain the Soviet Union using super advanced technology to take over the world.
  • Apocalyptic Log: These are practically everywhere, from the labs to the school; almost everyone on the island had a reel-to-reel recorder and held an audio-log. One might wonder why is there a recording of little children talking about their belly-aches in a school, or why there is a reel-to-reel recording of a scared little girl in the washroom, but in a game about a Soviet black hole...
    • One morbidly hilarious example: a film archive of a test of one of the time-portals that appeared around the island because of the experiments has the scientist pass through the portal unharmed; just as he begins noting that there seem to be no negative side-effects to the transition, his body turns to dust while the camera was still filming. His colleague then rushes over and frantically tries to turn off the camera.
    • It also happens in flashbacks, such as when you're in a schoolroom with the corpses of the students under their desks, you see the teacher react to something by telling everyone to get under their desks.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: The Seeker rifle is the epitome of this trope!
  • The Backwards R: Very insistent in reversing Rs and Ns. "HEЯO UPGЯADE PLAИS"? What is a Heyao Upgya-aid plays? The sign, mostly in English, welcoming you to "KДTФЯGД-12" is even more of a mouthful.
  • Badass Bookworm: Throughout the game, you find many audio logs and temporal echos of the various survivors of the intial Singularity explosion being hunted down and killed by the island's mutants. All these logs repeatedly reinforce the notion that Katorga-12 is an utterly horrifying Death World. With this in mind, you can't help but be incredibly impressed by Dr. Barisov, who not only managed to survive for 50 years on the island, but even went around leaving behind upgrade stations throughout the island (many in heavily mutant-infested areas) for Renko to use when he finally appears.
  • Badass Grandpa: Demichev and Barisov are both very spry given the fact that they are 84 and 87 respectively in 2010. Guess all that research into E99 bioengineering helped cure arthritis...
  • BFG: The Chaingun provides the typical room-clearing badass machine variety. The E99 rocket launcher, which can kill most enemies in one hit, also qualifies.
  • Bilingual Bonus: there's a lot of Russian in the game.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Echo Zek sports a stake for a right arm.
  • Body Horror: The various mutations caused by E99 radiation. You can even inflict it on enemy soldiers by turning them into Reverts.
  • Book Ends: Barisov's ending mirrors the opening which cleverly makes you think you've succeeded, at first.
    • Well, you didn't in-as-much fail...
      • Yes you did. Less terribly than what happened originally with Demichev, yes, but you still fail.
  • Boom! Headshot!: Shooting your enemies in the head not only causes them to take more damage, but even with the first gun you pick up, often causes their heads to explode like overripe watermelons. This is extremely noticeable on the first mutants you encounter.
  • But Thou Must!: At the beginning of the game you momentarily end up in the past and have to save a stranger from a burning building, who turns out to be the Big Bad in the new timeline you have created.
  • "Close Enough" Timeline: Subverted, "comrade"
  • Color Wash: The time-warped alternate-2010 is predominantly very orange, and anything that isn't orange tends to be blue. 1955, by contrast, has a much more varied color palette.
  • Cool but Inefficient: The first weapon in the game you're given is a badass-looking revolver. However, even fully upgraded, it is almost absolutely useless, despite the weapon's stats and description. With an extremely small amount of ammo you can carry, the bizarrely low damage and slow firing speed relegates it as garbage the moment you find another weapon to replace it.
    • It doesn't help that the enemies you face in the first area you have the revolver are capable of continuing to fight even if you blow off their arms or put holes in their (skinny) torsos. A headshot will down them, fortunately, but the revolver is still the least efficient weapon you've got. A total aversion of Revolvers Are Just Better.
    • The "Spiker" railgun as well. The charging time makes it pretty damn useless if your target moves at all during combat.
      • Until you find/learn the Deadlock, which (amongst other things) makes mooks essentially immobile for a little while. Then it arguably becomes the best weapon in the game.
      • Fun fact about the Spiker: You know that "Echo" Zek, that shows up a couple of times, the one that is highly intelligent, has a shiv for his right arm and can become invisible and attack you? The only way to see him while he is invisible is with the Spiker's Thermal Scope.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Renko using the TMD and an external power source to raise a sunken cargo freighter out of the water and repair it until it is seaworthy again. At least for a short while.
    • Arguably averted Literal example because, well, he's using an external power source and a device that essentially amplifies maxes up the power of the TMD.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Every single weapon you can use in the game has some form of E99 in it, due to them all coming from the altered timeline where the Soviet Union used E99 weapons to conquer the world. Some, like the assault rifle, pistol, and shotgun just use bullets modified with E99 to be more powerful. Other weapons, like the Spiker, make use of it in much more interesting ways, like piercing, explosive shells. The Seeker fires E99 rounds which can be flown like remote controlled missiles into enemies, causing them to explode into Ludicrous Gibs. The sniper rifle has a built in E99 time distortion field, which allows you to enter Bullet Time to pick off enemies one by one.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: A certain section near the beginning of the game has you crouching to go through a small opening, to get onto a catwalk on the other side of a wall. As soon as you stand up, you get knocked over from behind by a mutant who immediately starts attacking you. Interestingly, you will always be attacked from behind, no matter what direction you're facing as you stand up, even if you're staring at a wall.
    • In the ending, the player is offered the choice to kill Barisov, or kill Demichev (and/or kill themselves, which amounts to the same thing). There's actually a third ending for killing them both. And if you decide not to kill anyone Demichev will shoot you and Barisov.
  • Downer Ending: Out of the endings, none of them restore the normal timeline. All of them make the world worse, although we might be able to assume that the world under Barisov's rule is at least livable. Devlin says he actually likes the huge statue of Barisov, so maybe he's even a benevolent ruler.
    • If Barisov is sincere throughout his interactions with Renko, then presumably in Barisov's ending he used time control and a safe, incremental program of E-99 research to lead the USSR to mostly-peaceful economic dominance of the world. That assumes, of course, that the power doesn't corrupt him - the colossal statue is probably a bad sign, but there is the remote possibility that building it wasn't his idea.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower: Towards the end of the game your TMD is given infinite energy, allowing you to use all your powers as much as you like without running out of juice, as well as a massively superpowered Impulse that now sends even Spetznaz Elite flying. From that point on, you can pretty much blast through anything that gets in your way using TMD powers alone. The TMD's color even changes from orange to blue, just like the Gravity Gun in Half Life 2.
  • Elite Mooks: Spetznaz Elite soldiers wear orange, futuristic armor that renders them immune to your basic TMD powers, though noticeably not stronger effects such as Deadlock. They also carry miniguns and can take more than 20 assault rifle rounds before dropping (in comparison, all other human soldiers in the game die after just 3 direct bullet hits).
  • Escort Mission: You're tasked, at several points in the game, to escort your Red Shirt buddy, your female contact in a resistance cell, and the leader of the resistance himself.
    • Averted in that Devlin and Kathryn either have Gameplay Ally Immortality (this is a Raven Software game, after all), or so much health that they might as well be invincible, and Barisov is smart enough to take cover whenever danger appears, and enemies seem to pretty much ignore him anyway.
  • First Person Ghost: egregious example thanks to the Seeker Rifle, which lets you control bullets and see things from their point of view. If you curve a bullet and look for Renko's body, you will never find it for he has no character model: if you aren't looking through his eyes he does not exist.
    • Renko also casts no shadow when he's standing directly in front of a film projector.
    • His lower body is visible whenever he gets knocked down or is dangling from a ledge.
  • Flash Step: The Zeks, a strange, blue-skinned humanoid type of mutant, are capable of this, as well as phasing out of existence to be intangible.
  • Follow the Leader: Owes more than a little debt to Bioshock.
    • And then inverted when Bio Shock Infinite was revealed to also have an alternate timeline mechanic!
  • For Massive Damage: Several of the boss or mini-boss mutants you must fight in the game have conspicuous glowing splotches or sacks to shoot in order to kill them. The gigantic boss on the train level is easily the most memorable.
  • Foreshadowing: You see messages scrawled everywhere, constantly warning you that the plan you're following isn't going to work. Since the messages are written with E99, they must be meant for you, because they can only be seen by using the TMD to revert them to a state before they became smudged and unreadable. After awhile, they also start implying a Stable Time Loop is in effect. It turns out that the messages are actually completely correct, but not in the way you think.
    • One of the messages tells you to trust Barisov, then Demichev, then yourself, with each name written under the other and crossed out. Guess who you must trust for each of the game's three different endings and how it turns out?
    • When you're in the first flashback (the one with the fire in the worker's area) after you rescue Demichev you hear a guy yell "Renkov, no! Don't let Demichev live!" before he's crushed by falling rubble. Guess what? That's Renko. In a previous iteration of the loop.
  • Fountain of Youth: Subverted. An early film you find on the possibilities of E99 says that they're trying to find a way to make the old young again. Reverting nonliving objects to an earlier state works just fine, after all. Apparently living beings are a little more complicated, because the attempt to revert a human turns them into a horrible blind blobby monster that hunts by sound. Yikes.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Demichev. And in one of the endings, Barisov. Maybe. It's a little vague.
  • Gainax Ending: Barisov, the Planet of the Apes 2001 remake called; it wants its ending back.
    • There's at least enough to parse out what must have happened: After you shoot yourself, Demichev dies in the building and Barisov becomes project director. In the original timeline, he was pressured by Moscow to get results, which led to an accident that killed everyone on the island (as detailed in the intro movie). In this new timeline, however, there is a difference: in the building's wreckage there are two bodies of the same American Marine (or maybe just one; depends on whether the body of Heroic!Renko was pulled back into 2010 or not), and one of them has a supercharged TMD on his arm. Barisov is a smart guy, so he put the pieces together, took the TMD and used it to carry on his research.
  • Genre Savvy: Demichev doesn't know all the details at first, but he always keeps in mind that time travel is possible. He is not at all surprised to see an American soldier in a modern uniform in a version of the timeline where there haven't been American soldiers for decades.

 Devlin: I demand to speak to someone from our embassy.

Demichev: You will find that impossible, for a variety of reasons...

  • Gatling Good: You are gonna want to make sweet love to that Autocannon...
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: The huge green spider-things do most definitely count.
  • Green Rocks: E99 is only found on Katorga 12 and one of the writers says that it can do anything the plot needs them to, up to and including time travel.
  • Groundhog Day Loop: "We've already tried." Subverted; it's likely that the loop we play is only the second iteration, because we only see one other Nate Renko failing to fix things and there's only one set of footprints revealed by the cronolight. The revelation that this is happening leads to an immediate attempt to, one way or another, break the loop before it can cycle again.
    • Debatable. The guy writing the messages is desperate. There are some that say "You're ruining everything!" or "I'm starting to forget. It's been so long", and that big, circular diagram you find in one of the offices says "They took my arm, they will take my arm again" (in reference to the TMD). The same diagram shows that the guy tried several endings for the time loop (one line reads "Demichev wins"). Also, the Back to The Future-style diagram shows that history branches out in two points: one with Demichev living, that reads "BAD", and another one, that branches out later, and is double-crossed, which probably indicates the Barisov timeline. All in all, there are many indications that the infernal time loop has been going on for a while.
      • Not to mention that the Original Renko's voice is aged. The implication is that the first Renko has been watching others' attempts at fixing it and trying to point them in the right direction for years, if not decades, of the exact same events, not even really knowing what the right direction is, which is why the directions you get are muddled and confusing, including one that confusingly says, "DON'T TRUST ME".
    • It's almost certainly not the second iteration. The Back to The Future - style diagram holds a little hint: there's a tally mark in a corner, next to the line depicting the altered "Bad" timeline. The tally mark indicates at least 7 cycles have gone by, and the person writing the note has likely been trying different ways to end the loop in a favorable manner (as depicted in the large circular diagram "The Many Deaths of Me").
  • Haunted Headquarters: Justified, the "ghosts" are temporal images burned into Katorga 12 by the Singularity's Chrono-explosion.
  • Heroic Mime: Renko. Or is he?
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Kathryn to keep the soldiers off your back long enough to reach an objective. Also yourself in one ending. Both subverted.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: If you've played any of the STALKER games, or Metro 2033, you're going to be feeling a strange, deja vu sensation throughout the whole game.
    • Whether or not its intentional, this toys with you; both Nate Renko and Devlin are voiced by the extremely distinctive Nolan North, so when you hear his voice shouting your name, you'll either think it's just a voice-actor being recycled, or that it's actually Devlin shouting at you. Any possible guess you make about where the plot's going because of this will be wrong.
    • Also, the narration at the beginning of the game is done by Cyrus. Yeah, that Cyrus.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted. You can find the husks of children's bodies in several locations through the game, and a couple of the temporal flashbacks feature children, including one moments before the Singularity kills them all.
    • On the other hand, you'd expect the reverse of an aging effect used upon soldiers to turn them into kids, not turn them into monsters. Reverting them into goop seems to be about it; the developers admitted they just didn't want to go there, and their interviews peg the reverts as an earlier and more primordial, albeit twisted version of man.
      • Conservation of mass + cells turning into their embryonic equivalents?
      • In the game, you press the TMD button twice to turn soldiers into Reverts. You are aging them, and then reverting them while they age. They become "abominations caught somewhere in between" the past and the present, to quote the game box.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Nikita Khrushchev, of all people. In the alternate timeline, he sanctioned the deployment of an E99 bomb against the entire US East Coast. As a result, there was no East Coast anymore, just a black, semi-flooded smoldering crater big enough to be seen from orbit.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: In this case, Unobtanium power! The E99 which the USSR discovers on Katorga-12 can do a whole mess of wonderful things, like...horribly mutating people into bloodthirsty, immortal killing machines! Or, mutating local plant life to be horribly dangerous, yet beautifully shiny! The Soviet government was working on a way to use the E99 radiation to give them super soldiers, and in the altered timeline, the elite soldiers you encounter are extremely resilient, and even resistant to the powers of the TMD, as well.
  • I Can Rule Alone: At the end of the game Demichev offers to let you rule the world alongside him if you kill Barisov for him. One possible ending is to kill both Barisov and Demichev, after which the Soviet Union collapses without a leader, and you assume control of the former United States as supreme dictator.
  • Just One Second Out of Sync: The chronolight function of the TMD can detect and pull back objects that exist as such and Renko's last set of footprints.
  • Last Second Karma Choice: You get to pick your ending depend on whether you kill Demichev, Barison, or both of them.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The enemies in this game explode into pieces when hit with the more powerful weapons. This is explained by the use of E99 in the weapons, giving them a bit more punch.
    • ...Which, in some cases, comes across as more of a way to Hand Wave Raven's love of gore; for instance, the Autocannon (basically a minigun), when continuously fired into an enemy's body, will cause all their limbs to spontaneously fly off, one at a time; they only fall down to the ground once both their legs are gone.
  • Made of Iron: For a guy who was originally destined to die, Demichev is surprisingly resistant to death. Your first attempt to change the past for the better (a partial success, in that it saves Barisov) is shooting Demichev several times and watching him fall out of a second-story window.
  • Meaningful Name: A Renko is a type of Japanese financial graph that doesn't have a constant space for units of time. Of course, the irony lies in how Nate Renko can't fight fate.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Taking a cue from Bioshock, on Normal difficulty or lower any attack that should kill you will instead simply reduce you down to 1 unit of health and grant you a second or so of invincibility. Take a hit after that, though, and it's Game Over.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Within the first five minutes of the game, you save a man from dying in a fire and carry him to safety. That was probably a mistake.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Invoked with the TMD; Barisov hid it and made sure there were no plans because he didn't want Demichev to get a hold of it. Averted with the Singularity reactor, much to Renko and Barisov's chagrin.
  • No One Should Survive That: So, Demichev, just how did you survive being shot in the head and subsequently falling out of a second-story window?
  • Our Zombies Are Different: There's basically 3 types of zombies murderous mutants in the game. There's the basic Mutant, a feral, spindly figure chock-full of tumors and anger, created by random exposure to E99 radiation. Then there's the Revert, a product of de-aging gone awry, who, in the words of the developers, "because of their "condition", are forced to constantly clear fluids out of their throat, sometimes chewing and swallowing their way through slabs of thick phlegm just to maintain their ability to take air in". And then there's the Zek (Russian for "prisoner"), created by complications with teleportation experiments: they're humans possessed by extra-dimensional "Soul Leeches", and come in many varieties: Basic Zek, Echo Zek (faster, smarter, and with a shiv implanted in their arm), Fatty Zek (reproduction form for the Soul Leeches; can revive dead Zeks by sending a new Leech into them) and the Brute Zek.
  • Patriotic Fervor: The kitschy 1950's Russian patriotic messages and films make this game comes across as the Soviet counterpart to Fallout 3.
  • Pillar of Light: The Demichev Reactor generates one of these. Also lampshaded by Devlin, who notices it was inactive when they arrived.
  • Rapid Aging: Doctor Barisov describes the TMD's aging effects on living creatures as "unpleasant". Turning the clock backwards, however, has different results...
  • Required Secondary Powers: The entire island seems to be a huge nullification field since the people on Katroga-12 are aware of the changes to the timeline when they shouldn't be. For example, when Renko saves Demichev from the fire he and Devlin still think they're in the initial timeline where E99 research was abandoned when in fact Russia took over the world using E99 based technologies.
    • Devlin was on the island when the big time wave thing hit. Another possibility is simply that he ALSO went back and time and was protected by the same single-person nullification effect that protects Renko whenever he changes something.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Everyone on Katorga-12 benefits from this, it probably helps that the entire island is practically swimming in E-99, you know, the stuff that allows time travel to begin with. Doesn't really help you fix the timeline, though.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The revolver you get near the beginning of the game does not fall under this trope, see Cool but Inefficient above. Demichev, however, carries a large, unaltered, old-school, non-E99 revolver.
  • Red Herring: Devlin being voiced by Nolan North.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Demichev, not "Demechev." You can see it in the documents in the Mir-12 video.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: We don't really get to see what the rest of the world is like after history is changed, but life for the poor Russian scientists and faculty on the island sure was horrible.
  • Screw Destiny / You Can't Fight Fate: Mixed together and played with a lot. Obviously, you can change the past, since that's how things start out, but every opportunity you have to change things subsequently doesn't change much.
  • Second-Hour Superpower: The all powerful Time Manipulation Device, part gravity gun, part repair tool, part WMD, becomes available pretty early into the game.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: You try! You try so hard! One of the endings features you traveling back in time to kill yourself, preventing you from creating the initial time paradox which set the whole game in motion. Subverted, however, in the sense that doing so creates a whole new timeline in which Barisov takes over the world with the TMD.
  • Sequel Hook: While either Renko or Kathryn could be the one responsible for the messages scrawled on the walls, neither fits completely, and it could be someone we have yet to meet.
    • While the Mir-12 ARG has little to do with the game as it is, the confirmation of a sequel in the works means that they might re-introduce the issues of the possible collapse of time and other, unforseen effects of the Katorga 12 experiments.
  • Shout-Out: The important year in the past you time-travel to is 1955. One of the wall scrawls is an illustration of the timeline, drawn as an actual line, with labeled tangents showing where the alterations occur like the one Doc Brown draws in Back to the Future 2.
  • Spawn Broodling: A double-blast from the TMD will turn a human soldier into a ghoul-like Revert who attacks anything noisy nearby. This will usually mean they'll go straight for any of the other soldiers gunning for you as long as you don't jump or run around. You can also hit the Revert with yet another blast to turn it into a walking bomb; you get an Achievement for pulling this off several times.
  • Spotting the Thread: A perceptive gamer will notice a few clues that taking Barisov's side didn't restore the initial timeline. Like, why the hell is Mission Control calling itself Hammer-12 instead of Titan-One? Also, why is there Russian all over the opening credits all of a sudden?
    • Also, look at the Singularity reactor apex before, during and after you set up the bomb: first, the reactor has a dodecahedral cage around the main chamber (which is filled with blue light as you travel to the past), and there's a recharge port in front of it; back in 1955, the cage is no longer present, but the recharge station is still there; then, when you return to 2010, the cage is not there either, and the entire floor is changed (it's sealed, like it was in 1955). Then, when (if) you travel back in time again, to kill yourself, the singularity chamber is again covered in a field of blue light that mimics the old cage (probably indicating that the reactor is again changing shape?).
  • Stable Time Loop: It turns out that the book that Mir-12 uses to know that Captain Renko is the one to supposedly fix everything is put into place by Kathryn, a Mir-12 operative who, during the course of the game, ends up dragged back to the 1950s, where she writes the book, that eventually sets the game into motion, causing her to...well, you get the idea.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability Demichev when you go back in time to stop yourself, You may realise that when you see yourself carrying Demichev at the end, you have a perfectly clear shot at him, but no apparently the devs couldn't even be bothered to stick in a hidden ending for the players who think outside the box, you just fail instead, since it leaves Renko alive.
  • Soviet Superscience: But of course. Generally the only main detectable difference between our reality and the main timeline as presented in Singularity is that all the guys doing the superscience died on the island; or at least they did, until you helpfully yanked a man out of a fire... resulting in most of the horrors you see throughout the rest of the game.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Towards the end of the first level, you find a room with a truckload of ammo and supplies. As soon as you walk in, Renko and Devlin are swarmed by Spetznaz.
  • Take a Third Option: The ending features Barisov and Demichev, the two lead scientists of the island, offering you conflicting ending choices, to either go back in time and kill yourself to stop the whole game from happening, or kill Barisov, and rule the world with Demichev. If you shoot BOTH of them, however, a third ending occurs, in which you end up remaining in the altered present and eventually becoming supreme dictator of the former United States, while the Soviet Union collapses in the wake of Demichev's death.
    • There is also a fourth option: take too long to choose who dies, Demichev shoots BOTH you and Barisov.
  • Take Your Time: both played straight and averted. When Kathryn is taken by the army, not hurrying after her will fail the game. But when the doctor tells you the freighter is about to sink, you can take all the time in the world. Except in the end, when it does in fact start sinking, and the water inside starts to rise.
  • Tech Points: Spend your E99 wisely.
  • Temporal Paradox: Played straight as Renko going back in time to kill himself so that Demichev dies in the fire like he should does not restore the timeline, admittedly minus Renko being alive. Instead it puts Renko in an alternative timeline where Barisov took over the world using the TMD. It's implied that Barisov found the TMD on the Renko that went back in time to kill himself as he was trying to save Demichev.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Try to snipe a Zek. Just try. They teleport out of the way of the bullet every time, even if you're behind them and halfway across the stage. They'll actually do this with ANYTHING at long range, but it's most obvious with the sniper rifle.
  • Time Crash: The area around the Singularity itself is very warped, with frozen images from the past that may come back to life to kill you.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Its hard to make sense of some of the time changes in the differnet parts of the story.
  • Title Drop: The Barisov Demichev Reactor in the tower at the north end of the island is made to create a Singularity.
  • Too Awesome to Use: There a couple dozen Weapon Upgrade cases strewn throughout the game that can be spent to upgrade a characteristic of one of your guns. It's possible to go through the entire game having never used them due to having saved them to upgrade 'the next awesome gun' or hoping that you get extra upgrade options later in the game. You can never increase the maximum ammo carrying capacity for a weapon, and you can never increase the limit of the Dialation gauge in the sniper scope, so go nuts.
  • Transformation Ray: The TMD can turn a soldier into a dusty skeleton, or create a horrific alternate timeline where he never got past month four of gestation, and therefore never developed eyes or skin.
  • Translation Convention: Sort of. We see lots of signs that are posted in both Russian and English, something that would be odd for 1950s Russia to do, and most of the characters (except soldiers gunning for you) speak in Russian-accented English. Given that "Renko" is a Russian name, he's probably Russian-American at least some understanding of Russian.
    • If you were going to send commandos to investigate the site of a possible nuclear accident probably associated with an old secret Soviet lab, it makes sense that you would pick men who can read Russian. It would be a terrible shame for somebody to get killed or make the problem worse because they couldn't understand the signs that read DANGER, after all.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The hidden notes written in E99 dust that only you can find by using the TMD on them are oddly contradictory. Sometimes they're comments on the area or enemies you're about to encounter. Sometimes they're helpful tips. And sometimes they're paranoid warnings about how not to trust anyone you meet. "Don't trust Barisov!" "Don't trust the girl!" It goes off the rails when you find one that says "DON'T TRUST ME!"
  • We Can Rule Together: Demichev makes this offer to Barisov in 1955 after the creation of the TMD; Barisov instead opts for Honor Before Reason, prompting Demichev to attempt to kill him. Demichev makes the same offer to Renko at the end of the game; it's up to the player whether or not to accept.
  • What Could Have Been: The story and pacing changed significantly between initial trailers and release; originally, Renko wasn't a silent protagonist and exposition was delivered in cutscenes instead of the final Half Life style where we never leave Renko's perspective. Renko was an Air Force pilot instead of a Marine, and the recon flight to Katorga-12 was just him, in a plane, so he crashed alone and woke up wearing the TMD from the start without any idea where it came from. The original plot also seemed more focused on the Singularity as a ticking time bomb; there was no indication the Soviet Union conquered the world.
    • There is also the matter of the Viral Marketing campaign with the Mir-12 videos. These were actually very well-done live action sequences and were meant as a tie-in with the game. Unfortunately they are no longer compatible with the current storyline (they depict Mir-12 existing in the original timeline, with Katorga-12 still operational in the present) and the blog that held them is no longer functional, but the videos can be found on Youtube here.
    • The whole storyline moved from a "The fabric of time is collapsing!!" premise to a more classic "You F* cked history up, asshole! Go fix it!" direction, probably because this Time Travel game didn't involve enough voluntary Time Travel. The original taglines[1] don't really apply anymore, even though they (and the original premise) were really cool themselves.
      • Not necessarily. We've only seen one game- albiet one that was heavily altered from the original vision- and the developers more or less had been planning more from the get-go, with a sequel being recently confirmed. We don't really know the long-term effects of the Soviet meddling in this area and for all we know it we may well see the "collapse of time" issue come into play later.
    • The concept art shown during the credits features a number of enemies that never made it into the final game, including several different types of mutants and a sweet-lookin' suit of Powered Armor.
  • With My Hands Tied: Happens to Renko after being captured by the Spetznaz.
  • Written by the Winners: Invoked.
  • X Meets Y: meets Z meets W meets A. As far as gameplay goes, it's sort of a greatest-hits compilation of the best shooters of the previous several years, with elements from everything from Bioshock to Left 4 Dead. Thematically, it's Bioshock plus Red Alert with a bit of STALKER thrown in.
  • You Already Changed the Past: Twice.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Barisov's plan is to destroy the Singularity in the past before the Soviet Union's research goes far enough to make a difference. You accomplish this objective...except Demichev just rebuilds it in the intervening time.
  1. ("'Time is your weapon. Time is your enemy. Time is collapsing.)