(PlayStation 3)

Time and Eternity (PlayStation 3)

Game Review

Time and Eternity Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Katy Ellis

Love will tear us apart

Naughty bubble-baths and tongue-in-cheek dirty jokes are often commonplace in the JRPG genre, but they don't typically accompany an array of mature issues, such as the death of a loved one and secrecy. This is because contrasting potty humour with a deep storyline rarely works, as it’s difficult to empathise with any character while they are simultaneously making obnoxious references to a girl's nether regions and staring at every female character’s anime assets. Unfortunately, this is Time and Eternity all over: strange, niche, slightly demoralising, and ultimately broken.

Set in the colourful, albeit rather barren, world of Kamza, the game's story begins at the celebration of Princess Toki’s marriage to her anonymous and perverted knight in shining armour. Things start getting a little strange when the wedding is hijacked by a group of ninjas who murder Toki’s groom, causing her to reveal her secret parallel soul Towa, and the two use their powers to rewind time to six months before the wedding to change the course of history in order for them to say their “I dos”. Bizarrely, the husband-to-be awakes to find himself unable to talk, and trapped inside the body of Toki’s cute blue dragon named Drake.

You take on the persona of the devious Drake during the story elements of the game, yet switch to Toki and Towa during the combat segments. Drake is one of the most shallow, sexist, and completely intolerable characters that you will ever have the displeasure of controlling. The majority of the time that you spend playing as Drake you will be forced to listen to his dirty thoughts about bathing with Toki, Towa, and their friends, and how awesome it will be now that he is marrying two ladies, rather than one. The gameplay predominantly consists of mild exploration of a variety of different locations and random encounter combat. However, these elements aren't handled particularly well, and the gameplay is often messy, repetitive, and dull.

Toki and Towa must find out where the assassins that attacked her wedding are based by venturing to different islands located on the world map and completing seemingly disconnected fetch quests in order to stop her fiancé’s murder. Of course each island is littered with monsters to defeat, which would have been an excellent distraction from the astoundingly sexist dialogue, had the combat not been dull, tedious in nature, and lazy in design. You start playing as Toki, and switch back and forth to Towa every time that you level up, which isn’t very often. The battles consist of three fighting styles: long-range rifle attacks, melee, and magic. Toki is slightly better at long-range attacks, whereas Towa prefers melee fighting.

Random encounters with enemies lead to a one-on-one battle screen, excluding Drake, who acts as a sporadic healer and every so often deals out minuscule amounts of damage. You fight in real-time, with movement restricted to jumping forward, back, and dodging to one side. Most monsters perform repetitive, patterned attacks that you can memorise quickly, allowing you to win any battle by spamming the circle button to attack and either dodging using the left stick or occasionally holding down L1 to guard. Being careful generally leads to an even slower and painful combat experience – and in many cases a game over screen, as the guard and dodge animations are often slow and unresponsive when you are most in need.

This is all made worse by Toki’s continuous battle cries every single time that she deals out damage. The random encounters are few and far between, meaning that it's difficult to properly level grind, and the sparse and uninviting maps won’t tempt you back any time soon. There are fewer than fifteen enemy designs in the whole game, with every ‘new’ version of the creature simply rebranded with a fresh name and a colour palette swap, and most possessing identical attacks. Environments are also extremely similar, each location recycling countless elements from the previous one, making it nearly impossible to differentiate one island from the other. Fighting the exact same monsters over and over in practically the same location every time is not only soul destroying, but is also simply lazy on developer Imageepoch’s behalf.

But palette swaps and desolate environments aren’t the game’s only problem, as it's also plagued by clunky character animations, and a disappointingly broken ‘love meter’ dating system. Throughout the story, the husband-to-be is faced with a bit of a conundrum – who should he marry: the red-headed, shy Toki or the blonde and ballsy Towa? Hiding in the menu screen is a relationship meter that shows you which girl you're closer to, and this changes during fights and special events, unlocking slightly questionable ‘fan-service’ images of both of the title's heroines which become progressively more sexual the further that you progress. The love mechanic would be interesting, had the whole system not been totally overridden and made purposeless by one final decision at the end of the game which forces you to pick either Toki or Towa (or a secret third option), resulting in one of three possible endings. It’s worth saving shortly before the game’s conclusion so that you can unlock each finale without having to play through the title a second or third time in the New Game + mode, which carries over money, skills, unlocked gifts, and more.

Visually, the adventure is at times really rather beautiful, complemented by gorgeous 2D hand-drawn anime characters and bright and colourful cut-scenes, which at times make you feel like you have been sucked into a real-life anime episode. However, as soon as you are transported to any islands or combat areas you are confronted by a strange and jarring juxtaposition of 2D anime sprites offset on a drab and grainy 3D landscape. It’s a bold yet strange move on Imageepoch’s behalf, and sadly doesn’t pay off, as the 3D backgrounds only help to further highlight the awkward 2D movement animations and give the impression of an early PS3 game which has graphically not aged well.

Sadly, the release is also victim to a case of bad voice-acting and ill-fitting lip-syncing. While some characters are voiced better than others, Drake’s smug and chauvinistic voice only amplifies the vulgarity of his script, and makes you crave the large chunks of gameplay where you simply have to scroll through text rather than listen to his rude musings. During spoken dialogue there are often long, awkward pauses in speech, butchering the flow of in-game conversations and causing on-screen characters to finish moving their lips long before the dialogue is over. The soundtrack is mostly atmospheric, and not overly memorable, aside from a certain jazzy track which plays during enemy encounters and will be sure to see you bobbing up and down in your seat.

Conclusion

Graphical issues, lazy design, broken mechanics, dull combat, vulgar dialogue, and a loathsome main character are all bundled together in Time and Eternity, resulting in a particularly uncomfortable and unenjoyable JRPG. If you're looking for dynamic battles, gorgeous visuals, and a decent yarn, pick up Tales of Xillia or Ni No Kuni instead. Just trust us on this one.

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User Comments (23)

Faustek

#6

Faustek said:

Remember looking forward to this game just a few months back...now I'm just sad.

Such a neat idea turned to crap.

Cloud7794

#7

Cloud7794 said:

I feel sorry for you Katy, having to ride through this game after having reviewed Xillia. I would compare it to going to a nice restaurant and having fantastic bread sticks, only to eat burnt, soggy bread sticks the next day as leftovers. I guess it would come with the job though, thanks for jumping on this grenade for the rest of us ^_^

odd69

#8

odd69 said:

well it looks wonderful, the artstyle would be the only thing going for it. but it does look amazing to the eyes

AVahne

#9

AVahne said:

I was actually looking forward to this back when I still had a PS3. The concept was interesting and I was hoping the dev would be able to pull it off. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case...

heero2001

#10

heero2001 said:

I had hoped PushSquare wouldn't jump on the hate-wagon for this game... I think Anime and JRPG fans will enjoy this game a lot.

belmont

#11

belmont said:

I actually enjoy this game... I got it sometime ago and now I am now playing it. I bet this targets only the very hardcore jrpg fans. The facts pointed out in the review are real but I can forgive them.

Cirno

#12

Cirno said:

The hard thing about JRPG reviews is that I can never trust them.

There are bad JRPGs but most reviews from people who don't know that well or outright hate the genre often give off poor reviews.

Superconsole

#14

Superconsole said:

@Cloud7794 Not gonna lie, the combat was soul-destroying after playing Tales, but the art-style was quirky in its own right.

@belmont @Cirno I'm sure plenty of gamers will, and already do, enjoy this game. It all comes down to whether or not the plus sides are enough for you to overlook the negatives. I'm lucky enough to have played plenty of great J-RPGs in my time, so am inclined to recommend other J-RPGs over this, but really only you - the readers - can decide whether this appeals to you or not - I'm only here to advise :)

>Feel free to shoot me over any questions have you about it if you are seriously considering buying it, I'd be happy to help out.

Cirno

#15

Cirno said:

@get2sammyb Hmm...

That's good then. I see a lot of decent to good JRPGs get short shrift from reviewers purely because it's a JRPG or something. (Hell, sometimes I've seen non J-RPG games be given poor reviews purely because the reviewer doesn't like Anime. Well, of bloody course it's going to be fairly niche outside of it's native country so you might as well get someone who likes that niche so that other people in the niche can get a better understanding of the game's quality.

Although bizarrely until the release of Rayman Origins the Rayman games got a similar treatment from a lot of reviewers. Which I find a bit odd, as most people would agree that it's a decently solid series and isn't in a niche genre. (Maybe "Non Nintendo platformer" counts as a niche thing I dunno.)

MadchesterManc

#16

MadchesterManc said:

Im still going to buy this game. I tend to take reviews for JRPG's with a pinch of salt as theres been a few Ive played, like Hyperdimension Neptunia series, that have been lambasted but Ive thuroughly enjoyed. JRPG's are probably the most subjective genre you'll find in gaming as opinions can vastly vary between just a few people, so you should't really rely on reviews for whether you decide to try or not. With me if I like the art style and the sound of the story, Ill at least give it a go. Hence why Im still gonna give this a try :)

Are you guys at PushSquare gonna start hyping Xillia too (noticed it at the end)? I keep seeing it cropping up in all manner of articles on numerous sites lately like its the second coming of Jesus or something lol

Superconsole

#17

Superconsole said:

@MadchesterManc I hype Ni No Kuni far more ;D

I genuinely enjoyed Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, despite the criticisms mentioned in the review - it was so loveable in an utterly bizarre kind of way!

MadchesterManc

#18

MadchesterManc said:

@Superconsole Ive still yet to play Ni No Kuni. It got hyped so much that I just ignored it (Ive still yet to play The Last of Us too lol) I almost picked it up this weekend to be honest but my friend gave me a copy of Agarest 2 so Im playing that instead for now. Im already playing thru way too many JRPG's at the minute (5 including the ones on Vita lol) so I cant add another just yet. At least Im not getting a Ps4 till new year so Ive got enough time to catch up on a few JRPG's Ive missed so far :P

+1 for the Hyperdimension Neptunia love :) I honestly dont understand why the mainstream JRPG culture hate on these more niche series myself

kanade2

#19

kanade2 said:

@MadchesterManc

Games like HDN,Agarest War,and Time,and Eternity just don't appeal enough to the mainstream JRPG community.Not surprising either considering they were made to only target a certain niche crowd in the first place. Elements like over abundant fan service can also be a huge turn off for the people in the main stream crowd.

MadchesterManc

#20

MadchesterManc said:

@kanade2 I never stated that niche JRPG's should appeal to the mainstream culture, I merely pointed out that I dont understand the hate that gets directed towards them. If it deos't interest you, fine, dont play it. Theres no need for the mainstream community to be as pretentious as it is though is there? As a person who will give a JRPG a chance regardless of developer/publisher etc I find their pretentious attitude quite distatseful.

ah. The fan-service. To be honest I havent yet played a JRPG that I would consider to have 'over abundant usage of it. Its another subjective topic when it comes to JRPG's tho If im honest. If we take Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 as an example there was about 5 minutes worth of content id consider 'fan service' in a 30+ hour long game. Over abundant? Hardly. Then again some people would think character design n the like is sexualised. Personally I dont. A little quirky, but then again when a character transforms it deos get a little sexualised without a doubt. Is it enough to make me stop playing? Not really. I guess im just pretty tolerant when it comes to this stuff lol Have you ever watched an anime called High School DxD? I was unfortunate enough to give it a go a while back n there was more ecchi n fan service in just half an episode of that than there is in the whole HN series lol I implore you to watch some of it if you haven't so you can see what over abundant fan service really means lol

I tend to dabble on both sides. Niche titles I tend to like due to there Fun& Humurous nature while the more mainstream ones I play when Im looking for more story or artistic flair. A JRPG is just a JRPG to me. Im not having a rant at you, just so you know lol Im just a little fed up of the divide when it comes to JRPG's

kanade2

#21

kanade2 said:

@MadchesterManc
There is a lack of JRPG,or Japanese games in general that get localized over here so the mainstream crowd can be a bit desperate on wanting their type of games localized over what they consider as crappy niche games. Having to petition,and fight for the localization of The Last Story,and Xenoblade while CH's games easily get localized probably has created some resentment.

When it comes to the reviewers well most of them are just doing their job,and giving their opinion about the game. People may want a different kind of reviewer for theses types of games,but you have to remember that there really isn't enough of those types out there so you're kinda stuck with those people that have a general interest in JRPGs,and Japanese culture in general. Of course there are still some instances where a reviewer that has no interest,or knowledge with those things ends up reviewing a JRPG game,but I'd be willing to go out on a limb,and say that is a rare occurrence.

I'd also like to point out that the hatred goes both ways as main stream JRPG games ,and even games that belong to different genres like COD,Dragon Crown ,or The Last Of Us have been hated on by the people who like the lowbudgeted niche games.

Keep in mind fan service is just one thing that can hinder someone's experience as the story,characters,battle system,music,and graphics can also contribute to that ruined experience. Going back to the fan service even if you don't consider it overabundant the fan service still doesn't work for everyone which is why it's rare to see it being praised by the critics out there. I'm not saying fan service doesn't work in the west,but there has to be enough substance,balance,and well designed mechanics with the game itself to where people in general can ignore the fan service. Kinda why games like Dead,or Alive can get away with it over here as the whole combat system is designed well enough that people enjoy it,and forget that they are fighting against a busty woman in a swimsuit.

When it comes to games like HDN you have to remember that there is a negative stigma against underaged characters being sexulized so it's going to panned regardless of how tame the fan service really is compared to something else.

MadchesterManc

#22

MadchesterManc said:

@kanade2 Good post. Actually worth reading through :) Although Id have to disagree with your final paragraph. I honestly don't see the sexualisation of the characters in HN, especially when they haven't transformed.
Untitled
Just looking at the main character Neptune here I dont see it. To me its quirky, maybe even a little moe if push comes to shove lol Its subjective tho and the next person that comes along will have a totally different view. Hell on other forums people have actually been labelled a 'loli loving pedo' JUST for playing Hyperdimension Neptunia.

I fully understand your point on localisation of Japanese games here. As someone who just loves JRPG's regardless, I find we dont get enough. The reason Compile Hearts more niche titles tend to make there way here tho is due to thier partnership with NISA in the US who handle said localisation and in turn themselves partnered with Tecmo Koei in the UK for distribution here in the EU. This is pretty much the reason we have quite a few niche releases. Id love a more balanced release between niche n mainstream too, but I dont know of any developers in Japan who have an overseas partnership like Compile Heart which would make it difficult for them. Its a shame as I could just import titles if my Japanese wasn't so rusty, but not everyone would like to take up another language just to play these games

kanade2

#23

kanade2 said:

@MadchesterManc
People in general are very opinionated,and will express their view about someone,or something openly regardless of if it's right,or wrong . This world isn't rainbows,and ponies so you have to expect some opinions to be down right nasty,or mean especially on the internet.

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