Originally announced in 2012 in January’s issue of Famitsu, Time and Eternity has finally made its way to American shores. While some early footage of the game wasn’t too flattering, when I was able to demo the game at E3 2013, I was definitely eating my words. For those that have acquired a taste for JRPG’s, the game presents a different kind of story and combat system that actually requires a sense of timing, making for a more exciting experience that can’t be expressed in a turn-based game.
Each character falls under a specific anime trope that will be a treat for anyone who recognizes them. However, Time and Eternity transitions between story segments very abruptly and this stands as one of its faults. Nonetheless, the story begins at the main characters’ Toki and Zach’s house. The entire supporting cast gets an introduction at this point, as everyone gathers to celebrate the wedding of Toki and Zach the next day. Unexpectedly, ninjas show up to crash the wedding in an attempt to assassinate the bride. Zach manages to protect her but makes the ultimate sacrifice in the process. With our unfortunate hero on the verge of life and death, Toki reveals not only that she shares her body with that of another soul named Towa, but that she is able to utilize time magic and goes six months into the past to prevent the assassination.
The direction of the game’s simplistic art style was a questionable choice. On one hand, it frees the game from the annoying gameplay lag that curses other JRPG’s in the current gen but on the other hand, the lack of polish in the visuals look outright lazy. An example of which occurs during cutscenes through the constant reuse of the same character animations that made me feel like I was playing a glorified visual novel. This is a shame because the animation studio that worked on the game, Satelight, has worked on other anime with considerable visual quality. Another facet of the characters that can be hard to digest is the fact that both the original Japanese audio and the English dub are of low quality. It was very hard to believe my ears to hear such subpar voice acting – while almost expected from an English dub – out of such famous actors such as Hanazawa Kana, Kitamura Eri, and Yukana.
The battle system is probably the most unique aspect of the game, staying true to its action-RPG name by giving the player near-complete control over attacks, placement, blocking, and dodging. Even though the player is limited to only two distances – melee and shooting range – this works well to compensate for the one-on-one combat. The dodging mechanic is a crucial part of each fight as it allows the player to avoid attacks that would have done damage or a knock down, which puts Toki or Towa in a position where they are unable to use any abilities with which to retaliate. A well-timed dodge renders the block mechanic useless, unless you are horrible at it.
In the early stages of the game, encounters can become tedious due to the lack of spells to cast. This can lead to several minutes of mashing on the circle button while occasionally tapping the joystick to the side to dodge an incoming attack. When far enough into the game, spells become an integral part of play, as they are the main source of damage towards enemies with high HP as well as breaks up the monotony of combat. On top of this, Toki and Towa – the two playable heroines in the game – play slightly differently. The two deal more damage from long and short ranges, respectively and cast spells of different element types. The girls switch out every time the player gains a level, but certain items allow switching at will. This feature allows more time with your preferred character’s play style and ties in to the affection meter in the game, as the romance sub-plot forces the player to choose between the two girls through upgrading the unique “love” attribute.
Due to the simplistic art style and distinct combat system, the game is definitely not for everyone. Despite this, I found that Time and Eternity is probably one of the more enjoyable titles to have a localization in America. With a unique battle system and a hint of moe while wooing your favorite girl, developer Imagepooch really knew what their target audience wanted and delivered on that well, save for the subpar visuals.
Available on: PS3; Publisher: NIS America; Developer: Imagepooch; Players: 1; Released: July 16, 2013; ESRB: T; MSRP: $49.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.