Time and Eternity Playstation 3 Review

time-and-eternity-boxLos Angeles based NIS America has been making and importing quirky Japanese RPGs for quite some time now.  Probably best known for their “Disgaea” series, they have plenty of other titles with a respectable U.S. following.  Among those, the “Atelier” and “Hyperdimension” lines are pretty polarizing pieces of entertainment.  Many western sensibilities are assaulted with these decidedly Japanese offerings.  In taking a little bit of time to really digest “Time and Eternity,” I have been afforded the ability to gauge other’s extreme reactions to the game.

Let me start off by saying, many of NISA’s past imports bored me to tears.  Yeah, yeah…twelve year old girls running around in wildly inappropriate outfits, hyper-sexualization, dating sim, etc.  There are cultural differences that in the bigger picture make much of that less creepy, but for me, they were just boring.  Turn based combat and grinding have long been on my list of my pet peeves and unlike the iconic “Final Fantasy” games, there was no epic story to justify this type of self torture.  In my estimation, the only people that could really enjoy this kind of stuff were social outcasts with too much time on their hands.

719se+awFGL._SL1280_In the last year, I have started to come around and actually enjoy playing these games.  You could argue that I’ve become desensitized or otherwise beaten down by the anime onslaught.  You’d be wrong though.  I watched much more anime, 20 years ago than I do now and would probably consider myself out of the loop with modern anime.  In my opinion, the answer is pretty simple.  The games are getting better.  They probably won’t win any innovation awards, but they are finally evolving from the same game we all played 20 years ago with different anime scenes into something new.

“Time and Eternity” revolves around the royal wedding of Toki and Zack.  As the two young lovers are exchanging their vows, the event is broken up by assassins who kill the young prince.  In the crisis, the red haired Toki, changes into the blonde and entirely more capable Towa.  Towa is then able to fight off the attackers and is able to travel back in time to try to undo the tragedy before it ever happens.  As an unintended side effect, the prince is transformed into her little sidekick dragon, giving him a sort of unfiltered view of his fiancée.

As far as narrative goes “Time and Eternity” really breaks some of the self imposed barriers that many JRPGs impose on themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of sexual innuendo, double entendres and there still is a dating sim under the hood.  Where this is game is different is that while the story isn’t about saving the world, saving someone you love could arguably hold the same weight.  Isn’t that why you’d care about saving the world anyway?  Besides this simplification, the narrative is able portray a simple metaphor that is easily relatable.

71y86FwlUwL._SL1280_The game switches the identity and corresponding personality of the main protagonist throughout the game.  In the narrative sense, this allows Zack to appreciate both aspects of his bride to be.  In the gameplay application, players must adapt to the fighting styles of these two different characters.  While they level up simultaneously, their skills are separate. Eventually there is a way to switch the girls on your own terms, but for the most part the game controls the cast.

Speaking of fighting, “Time and Eternity” uses a random encounter, real-time system with cool downs for special abilities.  While this sounds like a bit of comparative freedom, the mechanics are still pretty limited.  Toki/Towa can fight with either a ranged or melee attack and can dodge missile attacks, but she is limited to these three positions.  There is an awful lot of button mashing involved.  This game may very well serve as a stress test for your circle button, but in my opinion it is better than spending 45 minutes in a turn-based battle, only to lose, have to spend three hours grinding and then attempt it again.

71JADdKF7IL._SL1280_“Time and Eternity” forces comparisons with the latest anime inspired RPG from Japan, “Ni no Kuni.”  In my opinion, “Time and Eternity” is better.  There is more voice work in this game, the story is more mature and the combat system isn’t from two decades ago.  While, the animation isn’t the same quality as a Studio Ghibli production, the anime inspired art is stunning.  The implementation of it also hampers the experience slightly, but the adventures of Toki and Towa are certainly more fun than “Ni no Kuni.”  The style will rub some the wrong way and many JRPG purists will reject the evolution, but to me, “Time and Eternity” does much more right than it does wrong.
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