A truly unique idea in video games, whether it be story or design, has become a rare thing. We’re constantly downed in an onslaught of sequels that utilize the same engines and old tropes. When something new comes out, it has the chance to revolutionize gaming. Or, it can crash and burn in a glorious fireworks display of broken execution. Time and Eternity tries to marry the hand drawn anime style with the three dimensional video game world. Does it work well, or is the idea crushed under the wight of bad writing and dodgy execution?
I’ll save you a bit of reading and let you know that Time and Eternity is not a good game. Whatever ideas and concepts it had going for it is bumbled in a nicely sounding, but ultimately unsatisfying mess.
Anytime a game tries something new and unique, I have to applaud the courage of a developer. But, all things new and unique don’t always work. Time and Eternity is the prime example of a game with an engaging design concept that bumbles the execution. It's a combination of poor writing, bland characters, unforgivable design choices, and boring gameplay.
The marriage of Princess Toki is cruelly interrupted by a team of assassins who break in and murder her fiancé. In a strange turn of events, Princess Toki unleashed her ability to go back in time to six months prior to try and stop the whole event from happening. The soul of her fiancé was transported back with her into the body of her pet. While this may seem like an interesting beginning to a story, it is weighed down by needlessly verbose dialogue that follows little consistency or logic.
The characters in Time and Eternity are mere shells even by the lowest of video game standards. They tend towards hackneyed caricatures that cling to singular traits and motivations that get boring almost as soon as they’re revealed. One character is constantly moaning about class and propriety while another is "loveably quirky". It is the kind of quirky that will make the calmest of players want to hurl a controller through their TV.
The graphics of the game are where the intriguing conceptual ideas finally become evident. The developers tried to make an RPG utilizing the beautiful hand drawn animation used in anime. The problem is that the animation is not quite up to par with what we would expect from a video game. The character moves become repetitive after only a few moments of them speaking. The real problem is when the animation is paired with the three dimensional digital world. The artwork is very beautiful, but as soon as anything moves, the dream is shattered. There is a huge disconnect that makes characters look like they're floating over top of the scenery rather than through it.
Let's tally up the score right now. The story is boring, the characters can be annoying, the aesthetics are an engaging concept poorly executed. All that is left to save this game is the combat. It doesn't. It is just as dull and repetitive as the characters. It isn't turn-based combat, but somehow it feels disconnected. Your button presses don't have immediate effects and moving back and forth in battle sometimes doesn't work. It can be very frustrating.
Sadly, Time and Eternity is a title that could have been enjoyable, but it fails under the weight of poor execution and little thought. Its ideas held promise but it has ended up being a functional game with no redeeming value. If you want a JRPG to enjoy, simply wait for the new Tales game. If you want an RPG with beautiful hand drawn animation, pick up Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
Time and Eternity is simply not worth your time and an eternity with the game is something I wouldn't wish on anyone.
This review is based on a retail copy of Time and Eternity for the PlayStation 3.