A Thug in Time Android Review

A thug in time is action packed top down shooter that involves time travel and saving the world, by no other than a former gang member that was miraculously saved and got a second chance. 3D graphics, tons of bullets, tons of weapons, boss fights and all that for free-ish.

The plot

Kai was a former gang member that grew up on the streets surrounded by drugs and violence. He was one of the toughest thugs around, until one day he crossed the line. Fortunately he was found by Jay. She gave him new life free of drugs and violence, far away from the street gangs. Kai doesn’t remember how they met or pretty much anything about his violent past.

One day while walking home, Jay and Kai witnessed an energy explosion out of which strange being appeared. He claimed to be from this world, but not from this time, explaining that the existence of the world Kai and Jay live in is at stake. That world, and many other, were created by beings from the unknown, the Originators, almighty controlers of space and time. One prophecy fortold that the humanity greed will prevail resulting in destruction of the world by the Originators, but there is hope! When the Originators created the world, they left behind a device, now called the Time Dial, that operates on crystals scattered across different time periods. Kai’s job is to gather all those crystals and prevent the destruction of humanity.

The Freemium

Being freemium game and all, A thug in time offers two different currencies for you to gather or buy. The gold coins, used to buy new weapons or upgrade the existing and the green cash used for personal upgrades, level unlocks and some weapons. Diamonds are special type of currency. They can neither be gathered nor bought, instead you get them by completing bonus objectives on each level and you can use them to unlock the next set of stages.

Speaking of stages, there are 65 levels divided in 12 stages across 4 time periods, plus 8 boss fights.  Each levels offers one main objective and couple of secondary. Completing each of them will grant you the ever so needed diamonds, so completing all of them is more or less mandatory if you don’t intend to dip in your pockets and unlock the next set of levels by spending green cash.

The game

As mentioned above, A Thug In Time is top down shooter. Levels are mazed with white fences and your job is to find your way through and reach the goal while constantly killing everything that moves. In order to do that, you have a full arsenal at your disposal to kill, burn or freeze your enemies and number of power ups in form of boosts and bombs. Objectives vary per level, but they usually include finding the exit portal, surviving xx minutes or protecting the portals from enemies.

Great, just great

This game is probably one of the hardest I ever played on Android, not because it’s cleverly designed, but because enemies are stupid. They completely lack any sense of direction. You act as a moving magnet attracting all of them, all the time, and they never stop popping out. They will often try to walk through walls and various obstacles, constantly trying to shoot you, so being creative or developing tactics won’t help you at all. Quickly going from objective A to objective B seems to be the best approach. The one advantage of having this kind of AI is that you can farm them for gold coins all day long. Just find some isolated spot that has only  one side open, get a decent gun and shoot away.

Especially hard was the first escort level. I had to keep some specter alive, while he was chanting on the portals. I kept telling myself that I might be doing something wrong. I remembered seeing the screenshot with the Chicago level in play, so I thought, surely the developers tested the game if its completable without involving the IAP, but upon closer inspection I noticed this:

From the play store

Level 2 on stage 40 and 2M coins, while I was hitting Level 17 on stage 9 and barely scraping enough coins for the first couple of upgrades. This doesn’t necessarily prove that the developers did no testing, but it certainly makes you wonder…

Graphics and Controls

Graphics are decent. Scenery varies per time period, from the snowy villages in Viking-Age, to the urban style of modern-day New York. Enemies are 3D modeled as well and the developers incorporated the ragdoll physics effect instead of specific death animations. Texture resolution could be better. It looks nice on smaller screen phones, but on large screen tablets it starts to show signs of stretching.

You control your character by using the two d-pads placed on the bottom of the screen on each side. The left d-pad controls Kai’s movement and direction, while the right one turns you around the axle and shoots. This kind of scheme works pretty well once you get a hold of it, since running in one direction while shooting in other is necessary all the time. Sadly the game does not appear to support 3rd party external controllers.


I can’t say that “A Thug In Time” is bad game. It definitely is fun and action packed shooter that delivers quite a lot of content for free… if you can unlock it. The problem lies in the difficulty. The developers intentionally made it stupidly hard  to get more cash from impatient players. If you consider yourself good at arcade games and have plenty of time to spend, you can try the game for free. After all, we all have different tastes and skills, who knows you may find the game easier than I did. Only one way to find out.

Update: After shortly being offline, A Thug in Time is back on the Google Play Store with adjusted difficulty, free continues on the first 4 levels and some bug fixes!

Fun to play with The irritating AI…
Action packed …makes the game stupidly hard
Decent graphics

Removed from the Play Store. Download A Thug in Time APK here and here.