Considering Askiisoft also masterminded the brutally hard Tower of Heaven, the fact that their latest puzzle platformer Pause Ahead is also hard as nails should come as no surprise. The game gets teeth early on, after only a few training wheels stages, and it doesn't ease you into the difficulty so much as it does rip off your swim floaties and toss you into the deep end while laughing. Using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, you have to run and jump to make it to the exit before the time runs out in each stage, thinking and moving fast to avoid the unrelenting hazards that can take you out with a single hit.
The twist? When you pause the game with [C], though time won't pass, your character's momentum is preserved, and even while paused he'll keep moving in the direction you were running or jumping until you unpause the game again. It might sound like an inconvenience, but this nifty trick is on your side, since it renders him invulnerable to damage and can even let him soar across great distances he wouldn't ordinarily be able to jump. He can't go through obstacles like scenery, though, so you'll need to learn to master using the pause ability in tandem with rapid-fire reflexes and platforming if you want to survive.
Pause Ahead is definitely not for everyone. When you combine timed stages with hardcore difficulty, the end result is typically a whole bunch of flipped tables, though I personally found the timer was rarely an issue. If you're up for a challenge, however, and you're looking for some slick beats (that soundtrack is sweeeet), this is something you should check out. While the extremely tight level design does tax your reflexes, most of the challenge comes from figuring out precisely when to hit pause, and at what angle, and when to drop out. It's a game where milliseconds and millimeters make equal difference between success and failure, between soaring across a spike-laden pit like some majestic... kitty ear... eagle thing, and accidentally hitting pause too soon so you soar straight up into the thwomp blocks at the top with nowhere to go but kablooey. The tone gets decidedly odd around level ten when the game really takes the gloves off, and the level design quickly gets downright malicious. Pause Ahead is a beautiful looking, beautiful sounding game that will pound the snot out of you at any given opportunity, and for some people, that's exactly what they're looking for.