Time and Eternity made me feel old. Not because the game reminded me of my childhood, or because I didnât get it - like when my grandma watches stand up comedy and thinks it's just a situation comedy with really poor production values and set design. It made me feel old because even while I was playing it I couldnât figure out if I liked it or not.
When youâre younger, you love certain things passionately (chocolate cake, magic, Vegeta) and have an unbridled hatred of others (Captain Hook, mushrooms, violin lessons.) Kids know exactly what they like, all the time, which is why children are superior to adults in every way, except at bare-knuckle boxing. Theyâre awful at that. Trust me.
Playing this game made me feel old, because with age comes indecision. I played Time and Eternity for hours and still canât decide if the game is a genius, parodic take on the conventions of a JRPG, or if it is the worst thing to happen to civilised culture since Stan Walker. Maybe Iâll have decided by the end of this review, but I wonât make any promises.
You begin the game in fairly typical fashion. You name your character (Zach) and start your first quest, at which point Zach is immediately killed at his wedding by assassins and his soul is transferred to the pet dragon (Drake) of his wife-to-be. She is unaware of this, and travels back in time six months in an effort to stop the assassins striking in the first place, with her dragon-possessing husband in tow as an amusing sidekick.
As you do.
Also, her body is dually-occupied by two different souls, Toki and Towa, which is a fact Zach/Drake is unaware of up until she toggles between the two for the first time. Confused? I think youâre meant to be. Like I said, Iâm not sure.
The story revolves around your attempts to allay the events that lead up to your wedding and imminent death, and follows the traditional formula of main quests to progress story, side quests to unlock extra weapons and items. The side quests quickly get repetitive, especially seeing as they all involve you finding items scattered throughout the world as you go about completing main quests. Unfortunately, these side quests all take place in the same areas as main quests and the location of every item is marked on the mini-map from the moment you arrive in an area; exploration of any part of the area not containing an item yields no rewards and thus limits game time massively.
The at times cloyingly adorable storyline is offset very nicely by some very funny writing, in particular one-liners from your draconic companion (use of the word âdraconicâ courtesy of Harry Potter, Skyrim, or Heroes of Might and Magic 2. Take your pick). One of these lines is as follows:
Random, insignificant NPC: âOh no, our magazine, Assassinâs Monthly, is in trouble!â
Drake: âThatâs the one about the assassins, right?â
I couldnât decide at the time if that was funny because itâs a good joke or because the writing was just bad. I still havenât decided. Maybe I should have decided before I began the review? Oh well, too late now.
In between missions, you get to hang out in Toki/Towaâs kitchen with her three girlfriends (girlfriends like in Clueless, not girlfriends like in Xena: Warrior Princess.) Although Drake/Zach always remains faithful to his one true love, he does fantasise about getting it on with all three of these women - and his fiancĂ© - at the same time, and spends most of the game desperately trying to score a five-way like a horny, pubescent Neopet.
Yeah, so itâs some weird sh*t.
Like many RPGs, Time and Eternity uses the system of quests and side-quests to provide structure to its gameplay, as strangers explore various areas and are attacked by an array of monsters. I use the term âarrayâ pretty loosely, seeing as thereâs about 10 monster models with slightly altered colour schemes and names used for every enemy in the game.
Combat takes place through random encounters with these monsters, and largely consists of the player pressing circle until the enemy is dead. Itâs an adequate enough battle system, as the idea is to alternate between attacking, blocking, and dodging in the correct order to âhit without being hitâ, as Rocky Balboaâs dwarven trainer would put it if he hadnât died in Rocky 3.
If you were bored by that unnecessary film trivia, youâll be even more bored by the levelling system in Time and Eternity, seeing as thereâs only a very few different abilities and upgrades one can earn before Toki/Towa is all but invincible. I got to around level six, unlocked one magic spell, and didnât need to try again for the rest of the time I played because it killed everything in one hit. The gameplay is where Time and Eternity really loses points â it just isnât particularly enjoyable, and feels like an afterthought.
Although not graphically incredible, thereâs still some nice stuff going on in a world full of sexually rabid mythological creatures, assassins, and unnecessarily eroticised females (it is a JRPG, after all.) Everything is cutesy anime, which certainly makes the âseriousâ moments different â the Kill Bill-esque wedding scene involving the death of the primary character comes off like a punch line, which somehow works quite well given the ludicrous nature of every single element of the game.
Aside from the main characters, every NPC looks pretty much identical and it gets hard to tell them apart. The same can be said for the environments, which all look like copy-paste generic meadows with treasure chests in them.
To start with, I found the music in this game to be an endearing call-back to games from the past, in particular Pokemon. It was tinkling and cute and I thought it was alright. Then, when I realised there was only one piece of music per area, and every one of those pieces was almost indistinguishable from the rest of the pieces, it became less endearing. Particularly infuriating is the âKitchen Themeâ that plays throughout the expository sequences between the main characters on a continuous loop, every single time. Itâs lazy.
Alright, I have officially made up my mind, which is more than I ever expected to achieve, so in many ways weâre all winners today. Some very good writing bumps up the score for this one, but the lazy gameplay decisions make finishing the game a chore. If youâre really keen on RPGs you might find something of value here, but odds are youâll regret this purchase. As an alternative, download some episodes of Digimon, create a sexually-charged sub-plot in your own mind, and play the music from Lavender Town really, really loud for nine hours. Itâll be just as good.