[Video Game Review]: Time and Eternity (Toki to Eien ~Toki Towa~)

Time and Eternity2

Developer – Imageepoch, Satelight

Publisher –Namco Bandai Games, NIS America

Platforms – PS3

Voice Track Played – Subbed

[Disclaimer: I did not finish Time and Eternity, so this review does not cover the entire game.]

Looking back through some of my previous reviews, I often see the phrase “different is good” popping up, and I have to agree with myself on that one. Novelty is enough to grip people when it comes to a new game or story and immediately interest them in what’s going to happen next. However, new or altered features can only carry a title so far and Time and Eternity is a stunning example of this. While its art style and combat are more or less unique in the field of video games, and begin to take it in the right direction, its horrific production quality, poor writing and sheer repetitiveness render it not worth your time.

On the day of his wedding to Princess Toki, the knight Zack is killed protecting his wife-to-be from an assassination attempt. To his complete surprise, Toki then casts a spell to take the two of them back in time to before the attack, with Zack’s current personality being deposited into her pet dragon, Drake. On top of that all, it turns out that Toki shares her body with an alternate personality called Towa, which Zack had never been aware of. Completely unaware of their fiancé’s current situation, Toki and Towa set out to discover who orchestrated the attack on the wedding and stop it, while Zack learns more than ever before about the two women he was set to marry.

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Because of the limited time I spent with the game, the story is the feature I am least qualified to comment on. The game starts off with an interesting concept that could have a lot of potential, choosing to go for a more comedic than serious approach. That’s absolutely fine, of course, but most of the jokes and characters are the same old fare you get from anime and the storyline itself isn’t particularly compelling either. The inclusion of two main characters to control, each with different personalities, spices things up a little, though it doesn’t make up for the rest of the writing. While it may be a localisation thing most of the content, whether it be humor or plot, never really interested me without quite falling into the category of “bad”. Still, I only played through two of the five-ish chapters, so it’s entirely possible that things pick up further down the line.

So what about that novelty I mentioned earlier? Time and Eternity utilises a play system that I haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s unique, and it was one of the sole reasons I played the game for as long as I did. Your character, being completely hand-drawn (as are your enemies), is controlled via an over-the-shoulder camera as you run around 3D environments. It’s really quite cool. The 2D art itself is great and I really enjoyed the designs used for both enemies and friendly individuals. Unfortunately the animation is jerky in some non-combat scenes, with some characters’ actions even cutting and restarting part-way through their sequence. Additionally, the number of animations each character has is very limited, with each one being repeated often and sometimes unnecessarily (i.e. where a separate animation would have been more appropriate). The feeling that the studio had only done the bare minimum amount of work needed to ship the game was hard to shake.

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When it came to the combat, at least, the animations were smooth and complete. Being either Toki or Towa (with each having their own combat style), and switching each time you level up, each fight consists of timing your attacks to hit between your enemies’ own attack sequences and dodging anything harmful coming your way. Each fight is one-on-one and for the first chapter or so the experience is very enjoyable because of how novel it is. After that, however, the repetitiveness kicks in and that’s about where the game as a whole stops being fun. Each enemy has a scripted sequence of attacks that does not change from encounter to encounter, meaning that once you’ve learned it you end up doing the exact same thing in every single fight and that gets old, fast. That wouldn’t be a problem if the types of enemies changed but as soon as you hit chapter two you’re in for recolors galore and only minute attack pattern changes. The other issue is that the only way to raise the difficulty of the combat system was to make attacks undodgeable, transforming boss fights into checks to see how many health potions you have. As a final note, while you have a choice between both melee and ranged attacks, magic blows them both out of the water, so that’s just one more thing you’ll be doing over and over again for each fight.

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To cover some of the features I’ve missed, I should mention that the environments themselves are quite basic, using visuals that wouldn’t look out of place on the PS2. There are side quests available which seem somewhat half-hearted, falling into the MMO trap of “collect xx of yy” and only sending you to places you’ve already been without exception. If you go back to locations you’ve visited previously you can find extra items and areas unlocked, though it’s hardly worthwhile. I ended up playing with the Japanese voice actors because I simply couldn’t stand the English ones; the English voices chosen grated on my nerves and the performances were pretty poor as well, whereas the Japanese voices were simply adequate. Still, it’s nice that the option to switch between the two was included. As a final note that probably should have been included earlier, I appreciated the attempt to include conversations between characters in the field. Unfortunately, they’re so short and few in number that they only serve to highlight another feature that needed more work.

Summary – Time and Eternity is an example of massively squandered potential. While it can hold attention for a while with its sheer uniqueness, poor design and a lack of basic polishing make this a game I simply can’t recommend. Taking an interesting concept and novel mechanics and producing this borderline-unfinished product takes some real skill, albeit not the kind I’m willing to praise. However, if someone were to create a similar game with a great deal more effort put into it I’d been keen to give it a try.

Score: 4/10 – Bad

 Time and Eternity

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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8 Responses to [Video Game Review]: Time and Eternity (Toki to Eien ~Toki Towa~)

  1. lifesongsoa says:

    I have this game on my shelf taunting me. Everyone has told me it’s a bad game so it will probably just sit there forever… A shame too. I was pretty hyped back before it came out.

    • Silvachief says:

      I was in much the same boat. I’d seen plenty of bad press but figured at least some of it had to be the usual “Japanese games are weird and make me uncomfortable” stuff. And how could those unique features be all that bad?

      I was wrong. So very wrong…

  2. Lazarinth says:

    I love bad game reviews, they help with the cognitive dissonance of not being a gamer.

  3. This is one of my go to games for how they use the environment and how the character moves through it. It kinda feels like an anime the length through. This game constantly gets brought up for that part of it with my design team. Although we are leaning towards more use of this through interiors or urban area’s.
    Although animated characters like this are of course a much greater expense then a standard visual novel or 2D game.

    • Silvachief says:

      I think the use of animated characters in 3D environment was unique and interesting, given the lack of that technique in the video game market currently. In fact, i’d say it was one of the reasons I decided to play the game in the first place.
      The combat animations were especially well done and may have even been the most polished component of the game. Certainly, if a game with more effort put into it was released with that sort of visual style in the future i’d be keen to give it a try.

  4. Kai says:

    I saw this sometime ago and was pretty hyped for it. I was actually looking for a deal, and couldn’t find a good one, and after a while, I realized it’s been getting bad reception.. and yeah, one of the very rare things in life which I’m glad I didn’t rush and waste my money on :p

    • Silvachief says:

      Thankfully I was able to grab it fairly cheap during a sale after all the bad rep had caused the price to drop, so I wasn’t too out of pocket. I’ll probably see if I can sell it on if my conscience will allow it XD

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