I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what really to make of Time and Eternity. It was quite easily one of the RPGs from Japan I was most intrigued by, simply because of the basic premise: the developers went out of their way to make a game that looks like an anime. As both an anime and gaming fan, this could have been my Reese’s cup: a perfect blend of chocolate and peanut butter.
What surprised me most is that they succeeded. I am proud to announce this game is the first that I could truly say embodied the combination of anime and game. What was the cost though?
Time and Eternity is an absolutely absurd game. I don’t quite understand how big this niche market is in Japan, but it seems like the Japanese are all trying to one up each other with this crazy nonsense. Time and Eternity is a game about a woman with multiple personality disorder that travels back in time to save her fiance from being murdered on their wedding day by ninja assassins. Her now dead fiance travels back with her in the form of her pet dragon to unravel the mystery of his unfortunate murder and change the future while growing closer to the woman he loves (and creepily lusts) for.
This is the crazy sorta stuff that didn’t ever have a chance of being localized at any other point in the history of the games industry. It isn’t that Japan hasn’t had this stuff before, it’s just that nobody wanted to bring it over here. NIS America, for some reason, has found a niche to grab onto and they have attacked it with this style of games. Sometimes in a good way and others not so much, but the result is that they have been releasing crazier and crazier games.
Unfortunately, quality wise, Time and Eternity is laughably bad. The animation works about as well as you would expect it to, this being the first true anime game. It is a chopped up game, dependent on constantly reused bits of animation that are spliced together with the hopes and dreams of a team that wanted something that they were never going to get close to on this budget. It is tiresome if you are expecting something grander.
It does buckle down in battle because it has to, otherwise this experiment would have all been for naught. At times it even begins to look really good with somewhat fluid attacks and movement. Then you actually attempt to talk to someone and the animations pop up to be looped at random. It is insane to watch. Better yet is the fact that the dub doesn’t even attempt to match the mouths as they move almost with a comfortable understanding that the English dubbed voices are just going to do their own thing regardless of what the Japanese developers originally programmed to do.
It took me only about 5 minutes to realize exactly what it was that I was playing and it’s something I have honestly not been aware of recently. This is the bad anime that I used to watch on VHS tapes, just integrated with a JRPG system. This legitimately makes me happy and I know plenty of you will laugh at me because of this.
I’ve been waiting for an anime game for at least a decade. Something akin to those old Playstation RPGs that never had a chance in hell to make it across the Pacific. I have that with Time and Eternity. Unfortunately, it seems they’ve replicated the stuff we used to make fun of long before the genre really took off. People do expect some attention to quality these days and Time and Eternity doesn’t live up to those reasonable standards. Still, I honestly was slightly in love with this game initially.
Then it got a bit tedious.
The RPG mechanics in Time and Eternity work off of a parry system. You as our confused heroine Toki stand in front of an opponent and fight as if you were jousting in real time. You have a gun to shoot for ranged attacks and a sword to attack up close. Depending on the opponent, it might just be best to sit back and blast away repeatedly. The system actually is quite interesting, as it works off of simple dodge mechanics. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll get hit. If you are, you can cruise through the game.
It isn’t especially brilliant with enemies following fairly simple patterns, but it does try to work with you by setting up a good pace. Sadly, this all gets a bit wonky when you factor in some controller lag. In any given battle, you can combo and dodge out of the way within milliseconds. Or, you know, be stuck in said combo with out any response from your character. Its not that it is tricky to time, its that it varies randomly. This doesn’t even factor in when the gameplay actually begins to stutter as it loads animations creating even more issues.
Magic works well to change things up as standing back while shooting and dodging 30 or so similar enemies per level would be pretty boring. Since you only control one character, this adds a bit of meter management and forces you to stand open while you charge your attack. Plus it does big damage, so that is always fun. This opens the game up to 3 distinct movements in battle: dodge, attack, and charge. These movements do get you thinking, but that is only if you want to.
Since the game is built around the idea of a Princess with a split personality, you would think more attention would be placed on defining the two women. That doesn’t happen which is a shame because the game basically wants you to choose which personality you want to be dominant. Since the hero has few, if any, redeeming qualities for a leading man, the game relies on Toki and Towa to pick up the ball. The game unfortunately sabotages that.
Toki is passive and kind while Towa is supposed to be tough and aggressive. With this, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to have the two switch roles each time they leveled up if you are going to throw in a dating sim mechanic that pops up in levels at random spots. Essentially you can stumble into liking one or the other more by how you grind. There are items to offset this, but its really an odd choice to incorporate.
Since you are actively changing between girls to play the game, the developers decided to tone down the differences decidedly. It actually feels as if you are having to choose between yellow and red instead of two separate people. Which, I guess, makes sense because they aren’t actually two different people, but there should at least have been some real effort put forth to separate the two personalities more and make something engaging.
They even recycled the victory pose between the two. That’s just not even trying.
Time and Eternity has issues. For those that are sitting around wondering whether or not this game is for you, it probably isn’t. This is for a unique group of people that enjoy something that never tried to take itself seriously. It is for people like me that enjoy seeing lips move out of sync with some spoken words. It is for those that want to witness an absolutely ludicrous plot play out between 2 characters completely unsuited for each other.
It is for those that grew up wanting something absurd from a country that has been producing these types of works for decades. Time and Eternity isn’t a polished product, but for that select few among you that actually are interested in a hilariously bad anime game, it might be perfect.
I enjoyed Time and Eternity despite the many flaws (or perhaps because of them), though I’m sure many of you wouldn’t be as forgiving. This filled an odd little niche for me which is why I awarded it a score of “Good.” There aren’t many who would agree with that and there is plenty of evidence here to back them up.
[+Good English Dub] [+Unique Battle System] [+Crazy Plot] [-Recycled Animations] [-Lag] [-Repetitive]