As you may already know I get huge enjoyment from RPG and JRPG games, and so I was happy to hear that NIS America has released another JRPG called Time and Eternity. The whole story is based around the main characters wedding day, where the princess Toki is getting married to The Hero. Just as they were about to have their first kiss however, the wedding is attacked and The Hero is stabbed protecting Toki. As he fades in and out of conciseness he sees someone beating the living daylights out of the attackers, someone who looks a lot like his wife to be Toki. With The Hero fading again Toki decides that she has to stop the attack from ever happening and so travels 6 months in the past to the point when she had her fortune told and was told that someone would die at her wedding. The hero however travels with her and somehow ends up in the body of her mini-dragon Drake. Here he finds out that Toki is a duel soul, who shares her body with another soul called Towa.
Ok so that all sounds pretty complicated but you know what? It really isn’t. Toki and Towa may inhabit the same body but there is quite a big difference in them. Firstly Toki has red eyes and hair, while Towa has blonde hair and yellow eyes. In addition to that they each have different personalities. An example is that Toki is kind and timid, while Towa will cut you up if you get in her way. This difference in personality can be very easy to see, both in the way that they fight and in the way that they behave.
Toki and Towa have some friends who not only help them through their problems, but also give them some stuff to do. These friends are Wedi, Edna and Reijo. They play a big part in the storyline but in the name of spoiler avoiding that is all I will say. There are also quite a lot of characters throughout the game that help as part of the mini quests. These mini quests are playable throughout the whole game. Some of these mini quests are optional, whereas others are really smaller quests that help you progress further into the game. These quests can be anything from finding a number of items for a character, or maybe even to kill a monster that’s terrorising someone. These quests can be fun to do at first, but over time they can end being samey with the same kind of quests repeated for a different person in a different place, with the only difference being what you are collecting, killing or finding.
Graphically the game has a very interesting look. Let me start with what I think is the most intriguing thing. Toki and Towa (plus all of the NPC’s) are drawn in the classic Japanese animation style where every woman is stunning and the blokes aren’t too bad either. The actual levels however are created with computer animation with each location having a very modern feeling. What this means is that you have a 2D character against a 3D world. Though this looked very out of place at first, after playing the game for a while I started to see this odd graphic styling as a very unique feature are there are not many games that mix the two different styles together. In addition to this there are some very obvious influences from other games and animations. This can be seen in the creatures you battle, the people you meet and sometimes in the very levels themselves.
Despite getting used to the graphics there are a few things that still nag at me whilst I play the game, the major two being the cut scenes and talking sequences, as well as the in game captions. The problem is that during these sequences where someone is talking, the drawn animation keeps repeating the same moving actions over and over again. Now this wouldn’t be too bad if the movements were at least similar to what was being said, but sometimes they are completely of place and it just doesn’t look right. The other problem is that if you have a sequence where there are no vocals and just subtitles it can be very difficult to read. You are presented with white writing, sometimes on a light background or in the worst cases even under someone when they are talking. In these cases if you had any sort of eye issues or even sit to far away from the Tv you would have trouble reading it. The last thing that is frustrating is the in game monologues between Toki/Towa, Drake and the enemies they are fighting. The thing is that during the battle you are trying to hear what is being said, but you can’t read it as you are too busy battling. This means that its is easy to miss what is being said and this missed dialogue it might have held some importance to the game. Yes you can hear what they are saying, but you also need to concentrate on not getting hit in order not to lose the battle. When it comes to the solo monologues for Toki/Towa and Drake they start talking whilst you are navigating a level, but if at any point during what is being said you get in a random battle you lose the entire conversation. This was annoying as most of the time it was part of the story to know what they are thinking.
The Background music and sound effects are very well done throughout the levels and in the battles. The music is very well placed and works extremely well with the action that is happening. In addition to this the music played in the battles when you play as Toki is different from the music that is played when you play as Towa. This really helped to show that there is a difference between both the characters despite them sharing a body as when they talk, travel or fight the difference in the music really separates them out. Then there are the sound effects. Once again I feel that these are very well done, as the sound of the scary forest or even the shots from your gun all work well with the feel of the game. I would say that sometimes you can see that the sounds or slightly out of sync with the actions, but that’s not that often from what I can tell.
As I mentioned earlier Toki and Towa have different style of fighting and with that comes with a set of different abilities or ‘gifts’ as they are called in the game. Before I go into that lets talk about the Toki/Towa differences are found throughout the game. The biggest example of this is in the menu screen where you can choose what to equip, manage your items and look through the quests you have to complete and so on. Both Toki and Towa have an individual equipment page just as if they were two different characters, so you can equip one item to one and a completely different one to the other. Usefully however you can purchase an item only once, and then equip it to both characters. With the gifts you have some that are available to both Toki and Towa, but others that are their own. The best example is that both will learn gifts that will improve health or attack power, but while one will learn to use rifle attacks the other will learn close combat moves. Then there is the affection bar which is used to determine which one the hero is in love with more. This bar can be affected for various different reasons ranging from battles, to special sequences designed for the very purpose of swaying the Hero’s affections towards either Toki or Towa. Now I am not quite sure what effect the affection bar will have on the games end result, but it is clear that it can influence the relationship between Toki or Towa and The Hero.
When it comes to the actual battles in game there is a huge difference between this title and other JRPG’s or even RPG’s. In Time and Eternity are up against one foe at a time, so even if you are going up against four enemies you will always fight them one on one. You have two primary attacks which are your long range rifle attacks and your short range knife and Kamza (Martial art) attacks. You can switch between long range and short range at any point by just pressing forward or backwards on the control. You also have your gifts that can consist of magic attacks, healing, buffs, debuffs, rifle and close quarters attacks, plus there are some gifts that can allow you to ask Drake you help you to either strengthen your attack or defence or just to keep attacking the enemy.
Then there is one of my favourite features when it comes to fighting, the ability to either block or dodge your enemies attacks. This isn’t an menu option, you simple press across to dodge or L1 to block so you can dodge an attack have one of your own right before dodging another attack. This is more of a focused battle system that allows you to not only mix up what types of attacks you can do, but also to vary your timing as the enemy can attack at anytime. This is a style I haven’t seen before in an JRPG where you have two set positions and you can choose at anytime to change that. Overall I felt more involved in these battles as I had dodge or block attacks while trying to attack. You will also notice the difference in fighting styles between Toki and Towa as you progress. The greatest thing about this battle system is that it allows you to exploit their strengths and see their weaknesses, and by doing this you will be able to become a formidable foe against your enemies.
+Unique style of animation
+Entertaining battle system
+Fun to play
-Repetitive movement/out of place movement
-Difficult to read subtitles/written material
-Loss of talking if put in random battle
Time and Eternity has some very unique and good features, but the graphical issues are something that works against this decent game. The game itself is very entertaining, and I really enjoyed playing the battle sequences. You can also really relate to the characters and if you are like me you will want them to succeed in stopping the wedding from being attacked. There were however several issues that quickly became annoying and slightly ruined the gaming experience for me. Now I’m not saying that these are things that everyone will have an issue with, I am just saying that I personally did. There is a lot to this game, from the mini quests to the little anime and gaming nostalgia. All in all I really enjoyed playing Time and Eternity and I have every intention to keep playing until it has been completed.
- Random Man 5000