Time and Eternity is not your typical role-playing game. On the surface, the game appears to be a dating simulation with high production values. The sprites are actual illustrations; they are animated with great care. There is also an overabundance of high quality voice acting. As the story unfolds, however – you realize that Time and Eternity is an action RPG that places you in the role of a young lady named princess Toki. She must turn back time to prevent tragedy from occurring at her wedding.
As the story unfolds, princess Toki and her fiancee Zack stand at the alter to be married. Before they can finish their vows, a group of thieves enter the church and crash the wedding. In a heroic effort, Zack draws his sword to defend princess Toki, but he is mortally wounded in the process. It’s at this point that princess Toki’s second personality, Towa, emerges to defeat the thieves and rewinds time by six months to prevent her fiancee’s death. Unfortunately for Zack, his soul ends up inside Toki’s pet dragon, Drake. Together they must find the thieves guild responsible for the attack.
Time and Eternity doesn’t play like your typical role-playing game. Your missions are obtained by having conversations with Toki’s friends Reijo, Wedi and Edna. Once a quest is obtained, you can exit the conversation screen and use the world map to travel. Areas related to quests are represented by explanation points. Quest information is displayed as an icon beneath the location’s name. The game world is linear and separated into zones like an MMORPG. While the zones are fairly large, they do not allow you to exit into different areas. Creature encounters are random and the boss is typically at the far end of the zone. The occasional side quest is available to add some variety to the gameplay. Basically, the game follows the same formula for every quest and it doesn’t deviate from it often.
As you explore each zone, you will encounter Magic Crystals with different properties that are important to your survival. The Blue Crystals are used to save your in-game progress, but they’re typically found before a boss battle or story event; Green Crystals are wav points that allow you to teleport to different areas inside a zone, but they must be activated before they can be used; Yellow Crystals are exits from the current zone you’re exploring; and Red Crystals can only be activated with special items. When these crystals are activated, you can teleport to any activated wav point in the game world. The red crystals are quite useful as they eliminate travel on the world map.
A compass keeps track of your mission objectives, wav points and any available treasure; it is located in the top left-hand corner of the screen. Green Crystals are represented by green circular markers on the map. Characters that are related to the story are seen as red circular markers with exclamation points. Crystals and exits are clearly marked in the compass. Some zones also contain what are called ‘Memory Sites’. Investigating these locations will start a special event where Toki or Towa will rest, eat lunch or converse with Drake. The choices you make during this event will determine how your stats will increase. On rare occasions, something ‘special’ will happen.
Combat is a combination of action and turn-based mechanics that work surprisingly well together. When Toki encounters an enemy, you are immediately sent to a relatively small battlefield that only shows one creature at a time. Toki uses a long-range rifle that can be used by rapidly pressing Circle button. Drake, Toki’s companion, is controlled by the CPU and attacks automatically. He will also heal you during battle when your HP is dangerously low. Since the battlefield is fairly small, it limits the player to dodging, advancing and retreating to your original starting position.
By pressing up on the Left Analog Stick, you will advance toward your enemy allowing Toki/Towa to attack with a melee weapon. Pushing down on the Analog Stick will make Toki/Towa retreat to the foreground. While some creatures like the Frozen Manta Ray will attack in real-time, others such as the magician will cast magic that works on a spell timer. Once the spell timer reaches zero, the creature in question will cast its magic and the player will have to dodge the attack by pressing left or right on the analog stick. It is possible to ‘guard’ against attacks by pressing L1, but it is not affective against magic.
You can string together close-range attacks when battling a foe. If enough hits connect while the monster is guarding, it will enter what is called ‘Guard Break’ status. This will eliminate the creature’s ability to block and it will become vulnerable to attack. The same can also happen to Toki and Towa if they block too often.
Both Toki and Towa can execute special attacks or ‘magic’ when their SP (Spell Point) gauge reaches a certain capacity. Depending on the weapons equipped, Toki will kneel to the ground and fire a multitude of shots from her rifle. Most of Towa’s special attacks are based on close-range encounters with her secondary weapon, which is usually melee-based. When battling certain enemies, you can activate a FAC (Final Attack Chance) by accomplishing certain feats. When a FAC is activated, you are treated to an incredibly beautiful, hand drawn cinema of Toki/Towa executing the move. It’s worth mentioning that activating an FAC varies from enemy to enemy.
The controls are responsive during combat and easy to understand. For example – items from your inventory can be selected by pressing and holding the R2 button. Once the menu appears, you can highlight the appropriate item and press the X button to use it. This allows the player to stay focused on the battle instead of wadding through a bloated menu system.
One feature that helps Time and Eternity stand out from other role-playing games is the Affection Balance system. The Affection screen, which is located in the Main Menu, displays the balance of affection between Toki and Towa. Depending on the choices you make during combat, the Affection Balance will never decrease and can only increase for one girl at a time. During the course of the game, there may be unique conversations waiting for Toki/Towa at home depending on the Affection Balance. The decisions you make during these conversations can change the overall balance. Additionally, the Affection Balance system determines the type of ending the game will have.
Time and Eternity is a charming role-playing game that relies on its story and character development to produce a rich, robust experience. There is plenty of character dialog that is full of charismatic, whimsical innuendos about taking bubble baths with Drake and Edna’s obsession with Ricardo – the eccentric and annoyingly obtuse leader of the Assassin Guild fan club. While it may not be for everyone, Time and Eternity is a memorable role-playing experience that will captive any gamer who plays it.
Platform: Playstation 3 (Available via PSN/Retail)
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB: T (Teen)
|Incredibly beautiful 2D character art.|
|High quality voice acting and sound effects.|
|Challenging combat and plenty of side quests.|
|While the subject matter may not be for everyone (i.e. a young women getting married), the story is compelling and the gameplay is rock-solid.|