By David Fernandes / July 22nd, 2013
Even when you get hit with a game over, the game allows you to retry the battle as many times as you want without penalty. So even when the game throws roadblocks at you, they don’t make them too frustrating, though it makes the game lean towards the easy side with very little risk taking. You have two difficulty options, easy and normal, though after much experimentation, I saw little to no differences, as damage to you and the enemies were the same, the enemies health remained the same, items were still expensive at the store, you got the same amount of exp, money, and gift points from battle and through quests, etc.
In their attempt to break repetition and spice things up, certain bosses (i.e. the really big bosses) are not fought in the traditional sense, and it turns into a makeshift third-person shooting segment. You have four commands: normal attacks, special attack, defense, and heal. Not much to say, as it’s dull and nothing special. All it amounts to is spamming the normal attacks, moving side to side to avoid enemy attacks (which is incredibly easy, by the way) until it eventually loses all health. In the end, what they give us is a unique system that ends up being shallow and very exploitative, and never evolves outside the first few hours. Not gonna lie, it makes for some fun in the beginning to the half way point, but quickly turns into one giant monotonous process of getting from point A to point B in the main story, with the side quests being nothing but a small diversion.
Besides the battle system, the game’s biggest attraction is its hand drawn 2D graphics… or at least it should have been – quite frankly the game’s presentation is all over the place. While the 2D sprites themselves look good when static, you can tell they cut corners when they start moving. While the animations in battle indeed look impressive and fluid, during dialogue scenes, it’s a disaster. Instead of doing full animations, they decided to make a set amount of animations that repeat, sometimes in a loop to a character’s mood. In certain shots, they look fine, but in others, they look like they’re floating in mid air, and even clipping issues can be seen.
To cut down on making animations, they decided to use jump cuts, fade-in effects, zoom in on character’s faces, and other tricks to have dialogue scenes appear less awkward looking in a 3D environment when shifting perspectives or scenes. However, it makes the experience jarring, and assets are re-used constantly, even with cutscenes. There’s no lip sync to be had here, as the mouths don’t move according to the words, and character movements/actions rarely correspond with the situation. It screams lazy and further cements the game’s unpolished feeling. Oh, and pallet swap galore, and not just enemies, but also with NPCs. One minute you’re talking with a supposed kid genius, only for you to meet a child a few minutes later with the exact same character model, but with green hair. Just fabulous. Nothing says immersion more than seeing the same 7 character models in one giant city or throughout the game’s world.
The game’s sound design is also a mixed bag. With the dub voice overs, like most NIS America games, they did a fantastic job, capturing the humor in all the right spots with sound delivery. With the cast comprised of Lucien Dodge, Kira Buckland, and Cristina Valenzuela as main leads, among other well known voice actors, you can be sure you will be getting a good quality performance all around. However, when it comes to sound design in battle, things start to get on the irritating side. The actual sounds effects are good and not because of the performances either. However, Toki and Towa just love to spout out lines after every single attack. What’s worse is when certain enemies are constantly shouting out their own lines and grunts. Add two and two together and you get a combination of voices that make for the most annoying batch of sounds in the game.
The game’s soundtrack is decent at best, comparable to stock music, not terrible, but only there to fit with the environment and to at least have some music going on that makes sense and nothing more. Some, like the battle theme, is a joy, and just never seems to gets old. It was easily the best track in the game. The game’s theme song ‘Rewind’ by Japanese pop singer May J is alright, but a bit corny.
With all that said and done, do I think Time and Eternity is a bad game? Actually, quite the contrary. To me, it is just a shallow, mediocre title. While a number of flaws can be found here, the game does have some merit. The characters are likable and humorous, and the story has a decent narrative, what with the whole time traveling aspect. The game’s combat system is a breath of fresh air that can provide a bit of fun, especially when you start to get more skills. The game will take you about 20 or more hours to complete, depending on how many side quests you tackle in your first playthrough, and trust me, there’s a lot of them. With three endings, and a new game plus option, it has some replay value.
Time and Eternity is something that Imageepoch should look back and reflect on. I feel that the game’s framework is already in place, and just needs some adjustments with the gameplay structure, and maybe a less ambitious nature towards the 2D graphics. I believe they could do better. The way it is, it’s a game I can only recommend to those who are desperate for something new and love NIS America’s other offerings with the same anime aesthetics.
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