Time and Eternity
Most stateside gamers are not strangers to the cultural differences in the themes, storylines and character designs present in Japanese titles and anime. Some of us even find the differences refreshing; a stark contrast to the same old styles present here in America. Time and Eternity is a JRPG which touts itself as anime the player can control, sporting two-dimensional characters in three-dimensional settings. While the concept sounds like a great deal of fun, the game’s rhapsodic execution leaves much to be desired. Is there enough here to satisfy genre hounds and deliver an experience worth the coin? The short answer: no.
The Long Answer:
Our story opens with Princess Toki and her fiancé Zack’s wedding. During the ceremony, some ne’er do well assassins barge into the chapel. Quicker than you can say “Freaky Friday,” Zack is dead and his soul has pulled a “Spock’s Katra” by embedding itself into the Princess’ pet dragon, Drake. Also, as it turns out, Princess Toki has a split personality in the form of an alter ego named Towa. By the way, the whole family shares the secret ability to alter time.
The whole crew embarks on a time-travel journey with a view toward altering the past in such a fashion that it prevents the assassins from showing up, killing Zack, and generally ruining their special day. To add a bit of a sitcom twist to the whole thing, none of the players are aware of the fact that Zack’s soul is now inhabiting the pet dragon, which allows him to eavesdrop on the whole journey while making sexually charged remarks about the ladies. Not only is the entire cast of characters composed of two-dimensional drawings, but their personalities are of equal depth. Each one is a representation of some sort of personality flaw, and all of them seem to be there to offer nothing more than poorly executed humor. Players will also have to travel home quite often and deal with this band of misfits, making a great deal of the time spent playing this game a bit of an annoying chore.
The gameplay elements also get old really quickly. The controls are sluggish to respond during combat, and the design is more like a set of QTE events you have to know ahead of time. Couple that with the fact that nearly every enemy encounter is an exercise in frustration, as players can only do battle with a single enemy at a time. This completely destroys the “party cohesion” mentality most RPG players are looking for in a title like this. The random battles in this game come fast and furious, so having to hack your way through one enemy at a time over and over again becomes far more annoying than it has any right to be. The “chemistry” magical attacks, which combine Toki/Towa’s skills with Drake the dragon’s, are the highlight of the combat system, dishing out major hit point attacks against foes.
The graphical design was supposed to be the game’s main selling point. In the game’s defense, it does feel like something new and different, with the combination of traditional two-dimensional animation and three-dimensional environments. The color palette changes become obvious after a while, however, and recycled animations get more and more frequent as the game goes on. It becomes self evident quickly that the animation and control schemes are fighting with each other a great deal of the time, and players will end up having to plan ahead with what they want their character to do. The split personality aspect of the main character is also a simple color swap, with slightly different skill sets.
The music in the title is the best thing about it, but that’s not saying much. It fits the situations at hand and attempts to invoke an emotional response. The only trouble is that the situation at hand is hackneyed and forgettable. The English voiceover work literally sounds like actors reading a script, most of the lines in the game delivered with about as much conviction as a weather report.
Time and Eternity tries. It really does. Somewhere along the line, however, the ambition to create something new and different clashed with what they were actually creating. Each aspect of this game feels half-baked at best and totally ineffectual at worst. If this title was a digital download with a price tag of about $9.99, most of these flaws could be overlooked. Considering the fact that there are many more JRPG choices out there (of much greater quality) for the same price, it is virtually impossible to recommend anyone spend their gaming dollars on this twenty-some-odd hour game that will only annoy and disappoint them.
Reviewed By: Russell Garbutt
Publisher: NIS America
This review is based on a digital copy of Time and Eternity for the PlayStation 3 provided by NIS America.